Prepared, Brimmer Immediately Gets On With The Job At Hand

Prepared, Brimmer

Immediately Gets On

With The Job At Hand

26-Year Veteran New County Roads Chief
His first day on the job, county Highway Superintendent Rich Brimmer, left, touches bases with Shop Supervisor Jason Hornbeck, Decatur, at right, and mechanic Shawn Neuschel, Richfield Springs, in the county Highway Garage on Linden Avenue, Cooperstown. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Brimmer pauses in front of a Peterburg plow truck, one of 16 acquired during the just-completed tenure of his predecessor, Bill Mason.

COOPERSTOWN – Rich Brimmer believes he’s part of a success story, and as the newly appointed Otsego County highway superintendent, he intends to extend it.

Selected yesterday by the county Board of Representatives, he was at the superintendent’s desk this morning, as he’s been as deputy superintendent since Bill Mason – “a great mentor” – retired last November after three years on the job.

Brimmer was asked to cite three major accomplishments since Mason promoted him from construction supervisor to deputy in 2016, and he said:

  • Morale: As someone who’s worked in the department since 1996, the new boss said it’s never been better.
  • Equipment: The county board decided, at Mason and Public Works Committee Chairman Peter Oberacker’s recommendation, to lease-buy 16 new trucks over five years, a $3 million purchase, replacing trucks that had been bought, generally one by one with state CHIPS money. The oldest dated back to 2004.
  • Paving: In the last two years, annual roadwork has accelerated, including two major jobs: Route 14 from Hartwick to New Lisbon, and Route 13 from Morris to New Berlin.

Asked about Brimmer’s appointment, Oberacker, R-Schenevus, said it “reaffirms where we’re going, where somebody who started 20-some years ago, through hard work, can become a department head.”

He said the county board has been encouraging managers who are considering retiring to develop a plan of succession – Mason did so.“Bill did a great job” in preparing Brimmer, said the county rep.

The new department head, a Garrattsville resident, graduated from New Berlin High School in 1991, then worked for a local paving company that’s now part of Cobleskill Stone, before joining the county Highway Department in 1996.

Since 2005, he’s run his own excavating company on the side, and hopes to continue it, “if I have the time.”He isn’t sure he will, typically rising at 4:30 a.m., and rarely getting home before 5:30-6 p.m.

Looking ahead, he said some interesting collaborations to be specified later are coming up with the county’s Soil & Water Conservation Office, and he also sees maintaining good relations with town highway departments as a big priority.

On hearing Brimmer’s list of achievements, Oberacker turned them around, saying improvements in equipment was a big part of better morale.

“Put yourself in the mindset of getting a new car,” he said.“We were asking guys to get up at 2:30 in the morning, going out in the worst weather, and on top of trying to do the best job you can – then you have a breakdown.”

He also said the strategic paving jobs were made possible by the road-condition survey completed in 2017.“How do you know where to start if you don’t know where to start?” he asked.

One strategy that came out of the Mason-Brimmer combination was not necessarily to fix the worst roads first, but to ensure the good roads stay good.  Over time, this allows county crews to elevate the overall quality of county roads.

While retired, Mason is still available for advice, and Brimmer intends to seek it whenever he needs it.  “Bill’s been great,” he said.  “He’s just a phone call away – or a text.”

One thought on “Prepared, Brimmer Immediately Gets On With The Job At Hand

  1. Edward C Schneegas

    Worked for Otsego County for almost 31 years. Retired there now work for Middlefield Vol. fire Dept started there in 2002 with the Red Knights Chapter 44 motorcycle club we help out people that need our help and raise money for them give to toy for toddlers we ride bikes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Prove you're not a robot: *