Morgan County Highway Superintendent retires
by Jazz Clark
Serving the Department of Highways of West Virginia for 18 years, John Coleman retired on June 30.
Highway Superintendent for Morgan County, Coleman oversaw highway operations for the entire county, as well as answering complaints from frustrated citizens and maintaining 400 miles of road.
Greg Hott, who is serving temporarily as superintendent and worked with Coleman, says that things are running smoothly.
“We’re just trying to keep the day-to-day operations running smoothly,” said Hott. “Things are settling pretty well, all things considered, and we had temporary measures in place already.”
Department of Highways was put under the crunch since Mineral County supervisor Wayne Staggs retired around the same time as Coleman.
Hott said that postings for the position should come further down the line, but nothing is needed at the moment.
Postings for the vacancy will be handled at highway headquarters in Charleston, confirms Maintenance Engineer Barry Knotts. All qualified applicants will be interviewed and considered.
Still, Coleman was well liked by his colleagues and filled the position well.
“John was very good at keeping internal control, and losing him was a very big step,” said Hott.
Coleman worked with the state a total of 31 years, including his time with the state police.
“The job of superintendent was trying but rewarding,” said Coleman. “When we got a bad storm or a blizzard, that was when things were the worst.”
Though he spent a good portion of his career behind a desk answering calls, the position also afforded him a chance to travel on the very roads he maintained.
“It’s about 60/40,” Coleman said.
He says that roads have come a long way in his time there, but still have a long way to come.
The only way for highways to survive is by finding alternate sources of revenue.
“Fuel tax is down from higher miles-per-gallon, people aren’t traveling or buying cars as much because of the economy,” Coleman said. “Even the federal bill is being cut back at this point.”
Even on a reduced budget they managed to do a blacktopping every year, from major routes like 522 to smaller thoroughfares like River Road.
He would have liked to do more, but did what he could with limited revenue.
The most important part of the job is just listening, to both coworkers and the public alike.
Coleman plans on using his retirement to travel with his wife, as well as devote more time to his grandfather clock business he’s run for the past 25 years.