This story by Corey McDonald first appeared in The Citizen on March 23.
Hinesburg’s highway foreman of more than 30 years abruptly resigned this month, just days before a winter storm walloped much of Vermont and left roads in disarray.
Michael Anthony, the town’s highway foreman since 1992, submitted his resignation to the town the night of March 9. He had been with the town’s highway department for 40 years; the town garage was named after him when it opened in 2018.
“Mike did a great job on our roads for over 40 years, and our roads are in very good shape thanks to all of the work that Mike did,” Merrily Lovell, chair of the town’s selectboard, said. “He was a real perfectionist, and he did a really good job — nobody disputes that.”
In a lengthy, 1,700-word email to town selectboard members, Anthony said he “could no longer work under the current management team” and had “had enough of the badgering and harassment, changes (to) how and when the highway department works, and now, on-call pay cut.”
He made several claims, including that he was confronted by town manager Todd Odit about his treatment of a former employee; that the town violated a labor agreement between the town and highway employees; and that highway employees were not informed of the drinking water contamination at the town garage.
He also pointed to a conflict with town management over overtime work.
Anthony’s resignation email “contains many allegations, accusations, inaccuracies, and incomplete stories that I dispute,” Odit said in an email to The Citizen.
“Had Mike brought these to the selectboard prior to resigning I would have gladly addressed them all with the selectboard. I still will if the selectboard wants me to,” he said. “However, it would be inappropriate for me to do so in a newspaper article.”
His departure came days before a major snowstorm dumped more than 12 inches throughout the Champlain Valley, causing power outages and major traffic disruptions.
Joy Dubin Grossman, Hinesburg’s assistant town manager, reached out to several neighboring towns for assistance in the days leading up to the storm.
“We had the help of Monkton, Starksboro, Shelburne and Richmond — basically each of those towns took a road that leads into Hinesburg and continued on to Route 116 instead of stopping at town line and turning around,” Odit said. “That was a huge help.”
Anthony’s resignation leaves the highway department with two people — Dominic Musumeci and Nicholas Race. John Alexander, an assistant foreman on the wastewater department, has helped with plowing efforts when the town needs them and helped with the last week’s storm.
The town has advertisements out for both a highway foreman and an additional highway worker and has been looking for a public works manager who would oversee both the water and highway departments with the town.
As part of its fiscal year 2024 budget, the town transitioned the director of buildings and facilities position, which oversaw infrastructure and water and sewer, into a director of public works, who will now also oversee the highway and road operations.
But “obviously, when the budget was put together, it wasn’t known or expected that there’d be this change,” Odit said.
Anthony in his email thanked the town “for allowing me the opportunity of four decades of serving them. I have loved doing what I have done for the town,” he said. “Thank you to everyone that has supported me and encouraged me to continue doing all I have ever known to do.”