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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Staff Writer
Starting Sept. 8, the Washington County Road Department will start a 30-day test program, working four 10-hour days a week instead of the traditional five eight-hour days.
Road department supervisor Albert Wimsatt says he's received positive feedback from his employees about the shorter work week.
“I have eight men working under me,” said Wimsatt. “I asked them for a show of hands, to see how many of them really want to work four days a week, and everybody raised their hand.”
Wimsatt believes if a crew can complete a single job in one ten-hour day, instead of working eight hours one day and having to travel back to the site for two hours on a second day, it would save on fuel, not only for the county vehicles but also for the employees, with some traveling between 12 and 18 miles one-way to work.
Crews would still be called out on emergencies during storms if needed, something they would also have to do working five eight-hour days.
The county road department maintains approximately 225 miles of roads in the county. That maintenance includes snow and ice removal in the winter, paving, sign placement and repair, mowing grass in county right of ways and trimming trees along roadsides.
Not everybody is convinced about working longer days. When the idea was brought up at the fiscal court meeting on Aug. 22, two county magistrates voted against the proposal. Concerns were raised about employees becoming fatigued on the job, which could lead to problems when operating heavy equipment.
Magistrates Billy Riney and Greg Simms were the two who voted against the issue. Simms said he is not adamantly opposed to the idea, but he thinks the five-day week is safer and more productive.
"I like the part about saving fuel for the county. I just think you get better coverage during the week if you work five days during the week instead of just four," Simms said. "Also, when you work longer days, there tend to be more accidents."