Haines, a 1961 graduate of Paynesville High School, started with MnDot in 1967, when the previous local supervisor, Floyd Hurd, told Haines about a job with the department. Haines worked in Anoka for 10 years, before transferring back to Paynesville in 1977.
"The years sure fly by," Haines said. "I sure don't feel like I've been here for 20 years."
He became the local supervisor when Hurd retired. He supervised three maintenance stations: in Albany, Paynesville, and Sauk Centre. There are 19 drivers in all, including six stationed in Paynesville.
These stations are responsible for 45 miles of Interstate 94, from Osakis to St. John's University; for Highway 55 from Kimball to Brooten; for Highway 4 from here to Sauk Centre; for Highway 23 from Cold Spring to Paynesville; for U.S. 71 from Belgrade to Little Sauk; and for a couple other highways. In all, there are 451 lane miles in the territory. They also take care of road surface at two rest stops on 94 and the rest area on Highway 55 east of town.
The maintenance crew is responsible for plowing, sanding, and salting the roads in the winter, as well as clearing bridges and hauling snow. In the other seasons, they patch the roads, mow the ditches, and repair the guard rails. They also would clean culverts, stockpile sand and salt, and paint and take care of equipment. Last year, the crews retarred the shoulders along Highway 55 from Paynesville to Lake Koronis.
Haines' job was to line up the work for each day and delegate it to the crews in each station. He had his office at the MnDot garage in the east end of town, but would alternate time at all three facilities. The main garage, with the mechanic for all three stations, is located in Sauk Centre.
During snow storms, the stations double shift, with one crew heading out to sand and plow for eight hours and the other crew coming in and starting their shift when the other crew was done. Haines would be on call for bad weather 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
One positive change during Haines' tenure with MnDot was the development of the Adopt-A-Highway program across the state. Haines said the volunteer labor saved his department a couple weeks of work each spring. Previously, his crew would have to walk the ditches and pick up the garbage, but now they only have to collect the bags filled by volunteers.
Like many jobs, Haines said the paperwork in his department has increased in recent years with performance reviews, safety training, meetings, and permits for approaches and culverts on the highways.
Haines reached the rule of 90, age plus years on the job, and decided to retire because of the good benefits from the state. "Life's short," he said. "I'm going to enjoy life while I can."
Haines is an avid hunter and fisherman. He also expects to have extra duties at home. He and his wife, Dee, live on the east end of Lake Koronis.
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