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Employee challenges boss for top spot at Madrid Highway Department

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MADRID - The race for highway superintendent in the town of Madrid features an incumbent seeking a second term and a long-time employee from the highway crew.

William R. Barkley Jr. is seeking re-election to a second four-year term as town highway superintendent.

Mr. Barkley, 52, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from Republican Steven G. Rookey, a highway department employee.

“The opportunity of being Madrid’s highway superintendent has been very satisfying,” Mr. Barkley said, “Every day is a new challenge. I work with a group of men who take great pride in their work and do a very good job for the town. I guess you could say that I am a people person so I like the interaction with the town board, town clerk, highway department employees and the townspeople themselves.”

Mr. Barkley currently has five men on his highway crew, losing one position last year due to budget cuts.

It is a busy department.

“Projects that we have pending are (repairing) the north side of the Mill Dam,” Mr. Barkley said. “It was supposed to be completed this year, but Mother Nature was not very cooperative. We are also in the process of installing new ‘Welcome to Madrid’ signs on various roads around town.”

The highway department currently has 21 pieces of equipment, not including a 2008 Freightliner truck recently acquired from Fort Drum through the U.S. Army surplus program that will be converted into a snow removal truck.

“This will be our winter project keeping both of my shifts busy during down time,” Mr. Barkley said.

The highway department budget is $742,650. The water budget is $83,134 and the budget for sewer is $124,846.

“I am responsible for 50.55 miles of road for the town and for 26.58 miles that we contract with St. Lawrence County to maintain for winter snow and ice removal,” Mr. Barkley said.

Mr. Barkley lives at 25 School St. with his wife, Sherry. They have two children, Allison and Joshua.

Mr. Rookey, a lifetime resident of Madrid, is a 23-year veteran of the Madrid Highway Department.

The town highway superintendent’s annual salary is $42,250.

Mr. Rookey signed on with the highway department in 1990 when he was hired by the late John McCall, then the town’s highway superintendent.

“Twenty-three years ago, I was given the opportunity by Jack McCall to work for the highway department,” Mr. Rookey said. “Since that time I have worked in the sewer department, water department, worked on road maintenance and repair as well as I have put in countless hours of snow removal.”

Mr. Rookey believes that his length of service in his job and to the town qualifies him for the position.

“I feel working together with a strong board combined with my 23 years of experience already in the highway department makes me the perfect candidate for Madrid highway superintendent,” he said.

Mr. Rookey is the son of Gary and Helen Rookey.

He resides at 43 Caroline St.

The town highway superintendent’s annual salary is $42,250.

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