Sam Reeves' office encompasses the back roads of Clatsop County.

His office is ever changing: One day he might be outdoor in the sun with pristine views of the river and mountains. The next day he's inside a truck, plowing snow and trying to stay warm and dry. But every day, his office window provides daily views of elk, eagle and other wildlife.

"I love the solitude," says Reeves, who recently marked his 16th anniversary as a road maintenance worker with the Clatsop County Public Works Department. He's also president of AFSCME Local 2746, the labor union that represents most of the county employees.

National County Government Weeks runs through Saturday. This year's theme is " Transportation: Counties Move America's People and Products." County governments build and maintain about 45 percent of the nation's roads and 44 percent of bridges nationwide.

"The health of our rural economy resets on the quality of our transportation system. Clatsop County's transportation program not only enables people to get to work and recreation but also allows for the movement of products and goods that sustain our community and attract investments that creates jobs," Clatsop County Administrator Scott Derickson said.

"I can vouch firsthand for the dedication our Public Works crews have for this community and their jobs. Often I feel their efforts go unnoticed, but if not for their commitment, we could not keep our roads open for business."

Reeves is part of the four-man crew working out of Knappa. The road department has split the county into three districts, each with its own crew, to be more efficient. Of the 250 miles of county roads, 200 miles are paved and 50 miles are compacted gravel and oil. The road crews also responsible for maintaining 68 bridges and three ocean beach approaches.

One day, Reeves could be shoveling out a culvert in Brownsmead, the next day, patching a pothole in Svensen, and the next, spreading and grading rock on a road in Knappa. Reeves loves the variety of but it's not easy work. Reeves, a heavy machinery operator, often must maneuver bulky, hefty machinery in tight spaces. From his seat in the cab of a 50,000-pound Badger excavator, he uses levers to delicately move a cubic-yard bucket around a mailbox to clean litter, muck and vegetation from a roadside ditch.

It's this kind of routine maintenance that can make a big difference in the life of a road and taxpayers' wallets, Reeves says.

Keeping ditches and culverts open helps keep rainwater from washing across the road and causing hazardous conditions for motorists. It also helps reduce water seeping underneath and weakening the road. Cutting brush and trees alongside the shoulders improves visibility for drivers, reduces storm debris and exposes the road to the sun to melt ice and to dry wet spots.

Another essential task is oiling those roads that are surfaced with compacted gravel. Sometimes to the untrained eye, the surface seems smooth enough, but Reeves can see the tiny "alligator" cracks that would allow rainwater to seep in and erode the road. "It's these unseen maintenance work that we do that makes the roads last longer," he says.

When not out on the road for Clatsop County, Reeves enjoys riding his Harley-Davidson cross country or spending time with his seven grandchildren.

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