Making Windsor Work: Get to know Lee Serna, Windsor Public Works employee | MyWindsorNow.com

Making Windsor Work: Get to know Lee Serna, Windsor Public Works employee

Emily Wenger
ewenger@mywindsornow.com

Serna

Last winter, Lee Serna was called to help Windsor Severance Fire Rescue respond to a 911 call.

He rushed to the plow he often drives for the Windsor Public Works Department and cleared a path for a fire truck and ambulance to reach a resident's home. Not long ago, Serna might have been in the fire truck or ambulance as a volunteer. While volunteering for Windsor Severance Fire Rescue might seem like the most clear path for someone who loves helping others, as an equipment operator for the town of Windsor, Serna said he gets to ensure residents' safety on an almost daily basis.

Although Serna doesn't like being in the spotlight, he can't help but get excited when he talks about making Windsor safer for the people who live there.

He started helping Windsorites when he was 18 and joined Windsor Severance Fire Rescue as a volunteer. He didn't have any experience, he said, but he quickly learned the ropes of fire safety and worked for his EMT certification.

Serna enjoyed responding to calls to help residents, but his favorite moments, he said, were helping deliver three babies during his 36 years volunteering. He kept volunteering as he transitioned through several different jobs.

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Serna, a Windsor native, spent much of his life also working for Kodak, where he was in production for 14 years and fire security for 12.

Shortly after his job at Kodak was eliminated in 2005, he was hired on full-time at the Windsor Parks, Recreation and Culture Department.

He loves the outdoors, so monitoring the parks' sprinkler systems, mowing, collecting trash and maintaining the town's parks was fun, he said.

While working for the parks department, Serna said he and other employees would often interact with the Public Works Department. When public works needed help, the park department was there, and when Serna and his coworkers needed help, public works crews were soon on scene.

He got to know the employees in public works, and when the department had an opening just over three years ago he applied and was hired as an equipment operator.

A day in the life of a public works employee depends largely on the weather, Serna said. If a snowstorm is rolling in, employees may leave work before noon, only to return at midnight ready to plow Windsor's streets.

Public works employees are also at the mercy of other departments, Serna said. If the Windsor Police Department needs help blocking a road, public works is the one who blocks it. Serna operates loaders, plows, trucks and the town's street sweeper, and helps other department employees with weed spraying operations, minor street repairs and keeping stormwater drains clear.

Like he did after the tornado hit Windsor in 2008, Serna and other employees clear streets of debris after windy days.

They take turns being on call on the weekends as well, Serna said, so if an emergency arises, someone is always ready to help.

"Just gotta make it safe for the public to travel," he said.

Like his work with the fire department, working in public works can sometimes pull him away from family functions or other plans. But thanks to the support of his wife, Carol, and his four children, Serna said he even enjoys the days when he gets called away unexpectedly because he knows it's for the benefit of his family and other Windsor residents.

"You get out of it what you put into it, whatever you're doing," he said.

Serna said he sometimes has to rush to plow in front of a fire truck or ambulance so emergency services could get to a resident in need of help. But moments like that, he said, remind him why he works where he does.

"I enjoy helping people," he said, "and helping make things safe."

How it works

The Windsor Public Works Department includes the Streets Division, Stormwater Division, Fleet Management, Facilities Division and Water/Sewer Divisions. The department’s responsibilities, according to the town of Windsor website, include the following:

» Monitors approximately 700 million gallons of water that flows into the town from outside providers each year

» Operates a 2.8-million-gallon per day wastewater treatment facility

» Maintains 175.50 miles of streets in Windsor

» Operates a fleet of snow removal equipment, including six snow plow dump trucks, each equipped with sanders; one-ton pickup; five 3/4 pickups; two four-wheel drive tractors, one with snow blower; one motor grader; one front-end loader; and two backhoes

» Develops an oversight and reinvestment program for infrastructure in the town’s older areas and provides a capital budget plan for streets

» Responsible for the structural and systems maintenance and custodial needs of all town facilities

» Oversees the Brush Recycling Site and Recycling Center