Pittsfield's roads chief on leave during busy time for his division

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PITTSFIELD — The city's highway superintendent, Daniel Ostrander, has been placed on leave, according to several sources with knowledge of his status.

The move comes during a crucial time, as the department is pressing to repair city roads damaged over the winter.

City officials declined to comment on the reasons for his absence, but they said Thursday that pothole repairs and roadwork continue.

"It's always better to have a full house, but regardless, we're going to respond with the people we have," Public Services Commissioner David Turocy said. "We are still out doing our best to handle potholes."

Highway foreman Vin Barbarotta, Ostrander's second in command, has taken the helm of the department in the interim, Turocy said. That's standard procedure any time a division leader leaves for vacation, for an illness or for any other reason, he said.

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Turocy declined to comment on how long Barbarotta would need to serve as highway superintendent.

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Ostrander did not return a call seeking comment. It was not clear whether he was receiving a salary while on leave.

The highway superintendent is responsible for maintaining all city streets, sidewalks and bridges, according to a job description provided by Personnel Director Michael Taylor.

The description states that the highway superintendent manages city road crews, monitors the city's fleet of maintenance vehicles and the garages that house them, and has direct control over roadway spending.

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Ostrander also is tasked with communicating effectively with the public, with government officials and with city employees.

He was off the job for several weeks in late 2016, after he injured himself in a fall from a truck while working.

Turocy said at the time that Ostrander fell while getting out of the cab of a military surplus vehicle after he became entangled with something in the vehicle, resulting in a fall from a considerable height.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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