By Bobby Bordelon
When then-White Sulphur Springs-Mayor Lloyd Haynes heard city maintenance employees were doing repairs to heavy equipment outside, on the ground, in the snow, he set out to improve conditions for the department. Beginning in 2013, he sought to construct a new White Sulphur Springs maintenance facility, not knowing that years later it would result in him standing in front of The Lloyd E. Haynes Maintenance Building.
Haynes, who now serves as the city administrator, met with Maintenance Supervisor Dave Lovelace and Mayor Bruce Bowling outside of the building on August 25, where a plaque commemorating Haynes had just been placed on the exterior of the building. Shortly after he arrived, Lovelace turned to Haynes, pointed to the new plaque, and said “we’re gonna do a little better than that later on, a little bigger.”
Lovelace, who’s served as maintenance director for the past six years, said he and the nine other department employees were now in much better shape as a result of Haynes’ work. Lovelace recalled working inside of and outside near the inadequate facility until 2019, before the new facility was completed.
The old building’s role as the maintenance headquarters for the city was actually it’s second – previously the room was the band room for White Sulphur Springs’ high school. In need of a space for the maintenance staff to work, the band room was “somewhat renovated” so it could be used as a mechanic shop, but problems with this plan emerged quickly.
“My heart just sank when I came to see the conditions they were working in. It was just deplorable,” explained Haynes. “The problem with that is it wasn’t nearly large enough, you couldn’t put any kind of heavy equipment in there to be worked on.”
“It was pretty much outdoor work,” Lovelace explained. “We had to lay out there [on the ground] in the snow, rain, whatever, a lot of times to make things work.”
“How would you like to get outside and lay on your back in the snow to work on a vehicle?” Haynes asked. “It didn’t make sense at all.”
Haynes became aware of the problems shortly after becoming mayor in 2013, and set out to get the city employees out of the weather.
“I started trying to figure out a way to get them a building to work out of,” Haynes explained. “I had plans drawn up to build a building in the area where we have it now. There were people that didn’t want to do that. It was cost prohibitive, so we had to table that plan at that time.”
After the initial plans were shelved in 2015, an event came along to upend White Sulphur Springs – the flood of 2016. Due to the destruction of homes throughout the city, the administration and volunteers focused on getting people shelter and new homes. However, the city was also able to get a deal.
“We had to table everything and we had to start working on housing,” Haynes said. “During that, when we got Hope Village up and going, an idea hit and we said okay. I talked to Tom Crabtree and … since the city donated the property that Hope Village is sitting on now, I worked it out so we would have at least a part of the structure built for the mechanics. That [project] developed, continued to develop, and that’s where the mechanics shop is right to this day. It took a lot of work, a lot of arranging.”
The result is the new maintenance facility, which now bears Haynes name for this efforts to make it happen. Haynes also points to the amount of time and work donated to the city by several groups and individuals for helping to make it a reality – the donations meant the building could be constructed for a much lower cost than it the initially-rejected plans would have been.
“I can’t give you an exact amount because it was piecemeal – some people involved were volunteers, then we had Homes for White Sulphur Springs chip in,” Haynes explained. “We had three different volunteer groups that came in to do stuff on the building, and we had to buy some materials. We didn’t pay anywhere near what it would cost to build it from scratch. By the time you figure everything up, our part of it was very small.”
The new space doesn’t just take city workers out of the snow, but also gave them access to new equipment, such as an actual vehicle lift, a more powerful air compressor, and more.
“We can lift the vehicles now, and we don’t have to lay in the snow, that helps a lot too,” Lovelace said. “We had some car racks we could pull up on and that’s pretty much it. … We couldn’t get the trash truck in the bay down there [in the old building], so now we can do a lot of the repairs on the trash truck. The backhoe couldn’t fit in the building. We could fit one truck or so in there, but it was crowded. You couldn’t lift it very high with the jacks [because of the height] of the ceiling. … So at least here you can hold two or three vehicles if we need to.”
The improved equipment and ability to maintain it has allowed city workers to get some needed tasks done in record time.
“The [public] doesn’t see half the stuff we do, they just know it gets done, they don’t know who does it,” Lovelace explained. “… We still pick up the leaves in town and that’s a big job. We got a new leaf machine last year, that cut the time down by almost half for what we would normally spend on it. … When they start falling, you’ve got to stay on top of them or you’ll get really behind.”
In addition to the new equipment, the facility also comes with increased storage, safety equipment, and a shower in the restrooms, a much needed section for any workspace, as a recent incident at the Greenbrier County Recycling Center proved.
“We’ve got a shower in these restrooms that, if somebody gets something on them that needs to come off immediately, they can come in here and get in the shower,” Lovelace said. “Either chemicals or something. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, they need a place to go. … We’ve got a break room area with a couple of bathrooms – for a long time downtown we didn’t have anything but cold water in the break room. We did get a water heater there towards the end, but [now] we’ve got two restrooms, an office, area, and a lunch area. Sometimes if there’s a storm or you have to stay over, you can fix you something to eat right here, we have the facility for it now.”
The new facility is also located next to the city’s water plant, allowing each arm of the city’s workforce to better utilize equipment and talent across the departments.
“We all work together now – it used to be it was kind of a divided operation,” Lovelace said, then indicated Haynes as a major force in fixing this issue. “The water plant did their thing, sewer did theirs, maintenance did theirs, but we all work for the same people and you got to work together.”
Part of getting the departments to work together has allowed the city to reduce the amount of work that is contracted out, which means that money can be better utilized by the departments for upgrades. Lovelace complimented the administration for their work in improving the department.
“We still continue to buy stuff as we need it – that’s one thing about these two guys [Haynes and Bowling], they haven’t told me ‘no you can’t have it,’” Lovelace said. “They might have told me ‘you have to wait a while,’ but they haven’t said no for nothing. Everything we’ve needed, they’ve made a way to where we can get it.”
“I’ll give some credit back to these guys because what they’ve presented to me has not been frivolous stuff,” Haynes responded. “It’s been stuff that they’ve needed and I can depend on them, when they tell me they need something, I [know] they actually need it.”
Before returning to City Hall from the new maintenance building, Haynes sought to remind the city of how much progress has been made in the past four years and what’s coming next.
“If you see where we came from, see where we are now, you might be able to detect where we are going,” Haynes said. “I’ve said before, the city of White Sulphur Springs is moving forward – fasten your seatbelts, because you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The newly installed plaque reads:
The Lloyd E. Haynes Maintenance Building
dedicated June 23, 2017,
by the grateful citizens of
White Sulphur Springs
in appreciation of Mayor Haynes’ many years of service to
the city of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.