‘Big shoes to fill’: Montague DPW superintendent to retire after 20 years at the helm

Montague Department of Public Works Superintendent Tom Bergeron is retiring in June.

Montague Department of Public Works Superintendent Tom Bergeron is retiring in June. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Montague Department of Public Works Superintendent Tom Bergeron is retiring in June.

Montague Department of Public Works Superintendent Tom Bergeron is retiring in June. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-12-2024 5:01 PM

MONTAGUE — Department of Public Works Superintendent Tom Bergeron will retire on June 27, laying down his tools after more than 20 years at the helm of the DPW.

Bergeron announced his retirement at last week’s Selectboard meeting, where he thanked the town for its support of the DPW over the years and offered his hand in selecting his successor.

In response, Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz said the DPW will have “big shoes to fill” in his absence and made a motion to accept Bergeron’s letter of resignation “with regret.”

Montague first hired Bergeron to work as a foreman in 2004. He climbed the ladder from foreman to superintendent in only six months, and helped transform the department, bringing in new, multi-skilled workers and expanding the department’s range of services.

Included in the department’s expansion of services under Bergeron’s leadership was the creation of a sewer maintenance team within the DPW, tasked with maintaining, cleaning and replacing sewer lines throughout town.

“When I started in ’04 it was so difficult to get things done because they were so set in their own ways,” Bergeron said, “but as I came through and older employees retired and younger guys came in, we were able to do more progressive work, doing our own sidewalks, build walls, we fixed bridges, things like that that the older guys found difficult or were not able to do.”

Before working in Montague, Bergeron served as a foreman and later an acting superintendent in Northfield for a combined eight years. With a combined total of 28 years in his line of work, Bergeron said he will still mow lawns every now and then to keep busy during his retirement, but that it’s time for him to step away.

“It’s just time to go. I’ve had enough of the work and I’m tired. I’m tired of being on call all the time — I’m not going to miss that,” Bergeron said.

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With Bergeron holding the reins at the DPW, the town funded significant upgrades to the department’s equipment, including the purchase of new trucks, snow plows and, most recently, the purchase of a $90,000 skid steer approved at last month’s Special Town Meeting.

Thanking the town for keeping his department “well equipped to do more and more every day,” Bergeron noted that completion of the department’s new, roughly $10 million building during the pandemic was one of the highlights of his tenure in Montague.

Bergeron said the town is forming a committee to find a new superintendent, which will likely occur after the town hires a new assistant town administrator. The town’s new DPW superintendent, Bergeron said, will likely oversee the installation of new culverts and the expansion of the department’s sewer maintenance division, as well as assist with the state Department of Transportation’s replacement of three bridges in Turners Falls, which Bergeron said is slated to begin in about five years.

“I wish to express my gratitude for the opportunities I have had to work with so many great town employees, boards and committees, which allowed me to help bring the DPW to higher standards,” Bergeron said. “I was born at the Farren and I grew up in Turners, so that’s one of the reasons I’m glad I worked here for 20-plus years. It was a pleasure to work in Montague and I loved my job.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.