There is no Routine Day

Lewis Long finished checking for icy conditions on county roads about mid morning on Jan. 22.
Only then was he satisfied that dangerous spots had been identified and the roads made as safe as possible for travelers.
Long, as Tulsa County District Two superintendent, then turned attention to other district needs, notably continuing to have crews collect tree branches piled alongside the roadway as a result of the Dec. 9, 2007, ice storm.
Nothing is routine for Long or his 25 person staff at the district headquarters at 5300 West 31st St. Each day they go to work expecting the unexpected.
Long is one of the county’s ‘‘Hidden Heroes’’ just doing his job that makes it possible for others to go about their daily activities.
Long, a 1956 Daniel Webster High School graduate now residing in Glenpool, enjoys his work even more than the 12 years he spent as a State Senator.
‘‘I get to talk to people, get to know them better,’’ he said. This is more personal.
Long admits that he wishes he had understood more about county government while in the Oklahoma State Senate.
He said he would have worked harder to secure more operating funds for counties.
There is more to the job than supervising employees as they do road overlays, patch potholes and make certain that traffic control signs are in place. Bridges regularly are checked and maintained. Grass along the roadway must be mowed as needed. A few stoplights also are maintained.
When ice and snowstorms hit the area, crews are out making certain roads are open and passable. That includes, if asked, helping schools maintain and grade parking lots.
All efforts can be difficult along the rugged terrain because District Two has the most rugged landscape in Tulsa County, he said. ‘‘I personally have taken time — often on weekends — to drive roads in the three districts to see the various conditions.’’
There are challenges when dealing with the rough terrain.
Since the district has about 200 miles of roadway to mow and maintain — 400 miles when both sides of the road are included — everyone is kept busy keeping them in the
best condition possible.
Asphalt cannot be put down on roads when temperatures drop below 40 degrees, he said. Generally repairs stop in the district when the temperature is below 50 degrees.
Crews, which have been cross-trained so they can fill various jobs and when working on roads are alert to various hazards including snakes and scorpions that are found in ditches and under culverts.
Wildlife abounds in the area and deer frequently is seen. Flocks of wild turkeys also have been sighted.
Long said he once counted 53 birds in one flock.
The superintendent smiled as he was asked to define the ‘‘routine day.’’
He thought it might be in mid-summer when it was hot.
Weather conditions change work plans. A call might be received from one part of the district to fix a pothole and another call is received in still another that a tree is down. When it rains there might be reports of flooding and barricades must be put up to keep people out of the area.
In the midst of maintaining roads, and other duties visible to people, there also is the challenge of keeping machinery operating.
Fortunately, Long continued, there have been equipment upgrades during the past five years and this has helped a great deal.
Long is familiar with what is needed on the job, learning firsthand with the Army Corps of Engineers during the 1950s, following with his own construction company where he worked on a variety of projects.
Couple good equipment with dedicated, hardworking people and he feels confident that people in the district will be well served.
When personnel see apparently stalled cars alongside the road, they check to see if people need help, Long said. Many times the staff has called for assistance.
Long, his foremen and indeed, each employee knows the district and many residents, especially senior citizens and those with medical conditions requiring special treatment.
‘‘We check on people,’’ the superintendent continued. ‘‘No one told us to do it. It’s just part of the job. These people are on the top of the priority list.’’
That help was especially needed during the weeklong power outage due to the ice storm.
New subdivisions have been added in District Two during the past five years, roadways that have added to the division’s work.
While the roads are good, grass still must be mowed and other details attended to.
Commissioner Randi Miller has been assisting in her efforts to upgrade equipment, something that will help when road overlay projects begin again, he said. Most people — but not all — have been very patient with crews as they do their work.
That patience is especially needed at this time as the debris from the ice storm is picked up.
Picking up the branches is a task that will be completed, but it will take time, Long

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