April 2007

With the exception of life insurance, I’ve never been enthusiastic about paying out money for things that may never happen. I guess my optimism for things (except for the living forever notion) also makes me a cynic, because I feel that ultimately I’m going to be paying more money into insurance than I’ll ever get back in the event something bad does happen.

What happened in the Town of Root recently has given me pause to reassess my opinion, and if you’re anything like me, it may open your eyes to the need for good insurance.

On Feb. 24, a fire destroyed the Town of Root’s highway department’s seven-bay garage as well as all of its contents, which included equipment, snowplows, historical files, maps and more, causing an estimated $2 million in damages. (See page 56 in this issue for the story.)

Jeff Barker, highway superintendent of the Town of Root and his crew are determined to rebuild, but they won’t get much help from their insurance company because the town board chose to purchase a policy that covers only depreciated value, not replacement.

Jeff hopes other town boards in New York State will take notice of his situation.

“If nothing else, I hope this opens the eyes of other municipalities to review their polices and make sure that they’re covered for replacement value,” he said. “I understand that towns can only spend so much money, but in the long run, based on our current situation, it’s obviously worth it.”

Jeff’s town is rural. With a population of 1,700, Root, as he put it, “has more cows than people.” Consequently, Jeff’s budget is tight and raising the money to replace his garage and equipment will be daunting.

Some local businesses already have stepped up; Wal-Mart and NBT Bank donated $500 and $100, respectively. And a local tavern will be holding a motorcycle run this spring to raise additional funds.

If any of you would like to help, particularly if you have any superfluous tools you can donate, you can reach Jeff at 518/673-3295, or write to him at:

Town of Root Highway Department

Jeff Barker

1234 Mapletown Road

Root, NY 12166

You can also view previous issues of Superintendent's Profile.