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Highway Superintendent Sherman won’t seek another term — retiring after 35 years in department

After five years as Highway Superintendent and Public Works Commissioner, Brian Sherman will leave the post at the end of the year. September will mark 35 years since he first went to work for the Highway Department.

“I’m going to miss the guys,” he said about his fellow town employees, who are pressed into service at irregular hours to respond to foul weather and emergencies that don’t occur on anyone’s schedule. But he’s not complaining. He’s grateful for the relationships he’s been able to establish with Police Chief Jim Read, Detective Sargent Jack Thilberg, other members of the Police Department and volunteer firefighters and EMTs.

What he won’t miss is the erratic schedule. The job requires a lot of late nights when storms move in requiring advance preparation and aftermath cleanups. It means weekends when crews can work on projects they can’t do on weekdays when some sites are in high use. Mr. Sherman looks forward to knowing someone else will be attending to floods at 3 a.m. from a sudden pipe bursting or some similar crisis.

But he acknowledged it feels good to be able to handle emergencies and to see important projects come to fruition such as the beach bathrooms and work on the Community Center.

He’s quick to credit his predecessor, Jay Card Jr., with developing the formula for attending to town-owned assets, setting a schedule for their maintenance and providing a guide to where and how to acquire needed equipment.

Mr. Card and former town engineer John Cronin pitched the idea year after year, asking to establish a capital projects fund, but it was a long, uphill climb.

Today’s Town Board has been very supportive, Mr. Sherman said.

If he has a frustration, it’s the approval process that comes with the time it takes to gain permits for projects that must pass muster with the State Department of Environmental Conservation. He’s been trying to gain approval for work needed at Congdon Creek for what feels like an interminable time. With only months left in his tenure, he’s trying to finish a number of projects.

Looking ahead, Mr. Sherman expects his successor will be seeing a number of changes to operations. New contaminants are going to emerge that have to be addressed. There will be a need to find a new site for handling construction and demolition materials currently brought to Brookhaven.

That site is being closed and a new one will have to be located, Mr. Sherman said.

As for his personal future, he and wife Gina will be relocating to Edgewater, Fla.

“It’s a little sleepy town” that reminds him of Shelter Island. He expects they will do some traveling in a motor home they own, which includes visits to the Island.

As for the future of the department, it will be in good hands, he said, noting Ken Lewis Jr. will have the endorsement of both parties in November’s election for superintendent.