By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL - Timmy Lentz traveled the 42 miles of roads in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District in just a few weeks.
As the newly hired foreman for the district, Lentz spends his time checking on trouble spots in the sprawling neighborhood that includes hundreds of homes and residents, and thousands of culverts and miles of ditches.
On Thursday, Lentz took a shovel to a culvert on Old Oak Road, buried under dirt by rock and gravel washed down from an adjacent driveway. Lentz took a few minutes to dig out an opening in the culvert necessary to allow water to drain under, rather than over the unpaved road.
Lentz noted that many of the culverts around the district need cleaning out, especially after recent heavy storms. Many culverts aren't big enough to handle the drainage and are susceptible to clogging, Lentz said.
Warren County hired Lentz about a month ago to help oversee daily maintenance of the district roads and drainage points. Prior to joining Warren County Lentz worked in maintenance at Boyce School in Clarke County. Lentz said his background is in roadwork and he used to work for Rappawan Inc., a road construction contractor based in Front Royal. Lentz said he used to help his stepfather build roads.
"I like this kind of work," Lentz said.
Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress said district residents should continue to call the county to report road problems such as clogged culverts and overflowing ditches, washouts and flooding.
"Tim's new to the county, new to the position," Childress said. "He's just learning the road system and getting a feel for it. That's not to say that he doesn't have contact with the residents and they can certainly stop him, flag him down to communicate with him through the course of the day and, long-term, that's what our goal is."
Childress noted the residents need someone available in the Farms on a daily basis.
"He's going to be the face and the primary contact person out here for the residents," Childress added. "He's going to know better than I sitting in the office what the maintenance needs of the road system is."
As foreman, Lentz said he anticipates responding to calls from residents about any problems with roads and drainage.
The county has on-call contractors to perform major work in the district. Childress explained that contractors are put on notice to respond to road and drainage issues in the event of major storms.
Lentz's daily duties come in addition to the county's ongoing effort to improve the district's road and drainage systems. A capital improvement projects list approved by the Board of Supervisors and endorsed by the Property Owners Association of Shenandoah Farms outlines the first of many large- and small-scale initiatives aimed fixing some trouble spots.
The county still has yet to hire a sanitary district manager. The previous manager, Chris Fisher, left the position more than a year ago. Childress took over Fisher's management duties as the county began to finalize a road and drainage improvement plan. In the months after Fisher's departure, residents began to complain about a lack of consistent road maintenance or at least the presence of a county official in the district who could perform the work as the manager had done in the past.
Lentz helps the county keep an eye on the district roads and to more quickly address problems while the search continues for a new manager. However, as Childress noted, that search remains challenging. The county has advertised the manager position three times and officials interviewed numerous applicants for the job that comes with a salary range of about $47,000 to $66,000.
Such a manager would oversee a crew of more than a dozen workers and contractors, Childress said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or email@example.com