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Death leaves Amsterdam DPW short staffed

Death leaves Amsterdam DPW short staffed

The Department of Public Works is missing two more workers this week after one died of a stroke over

The Department of Public Works is missing two more workers this week after one died of a stroke over the weekend and one was suspended for failing a drug test, DPW supervisor Ray Halgas confirmed Monday.

Donald Bubniak, 61, of Queen Anne Road, suffered a stroke and died at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady on Saturday, according to his obituary. Bubniak was a veteran member of the DPW’s sanitation crew, Halgas said.

Last week, the department suspended a worker on the street crew who failed a drug test, said Halgas, who would not identify the worker. It is unclear when the worker will return to work.

The only city employees subject to random drug testing are those with a commercial drivers’ license, as allowed under federal law, according to Aldermen William Wills, D-4th Ward.

Tim Dufresne, president of AFSCME Local 1614, the union that oversees the city’s DPW workers, said an employee who fails a drug test is sent to a substance abuse program and must get a counselor’s approval to return to work. The employee generally uses sick time while he is out of work, Dufresne said.

Halgas lost two men in February after a fight at a South Side restaurant. Water crew member Kit Marcellino was arrested for assault for allegedly beating up fellow DPW worker Mark Blakely, who suffered a broken leg. Marcellino was fired as a result of the incident and it is unclear when Blakely will be able to return to work, Halgas said.

Halgas lost four more workers Monday when they reported to the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course for the season. Halgas said that loss was expected and won’t interfere with operations.

However, the department is short-staffed going into its busiest season, with road projects, infrastructure repairs and a continuation of the city’s effort to replace malfunctioning hydrants on the schedule. Halgas said the list of “to dos” never ends.

“It’s like two steps forward and three steps back,” he said.

Halgas has asked the Common Council for the ability to hire two new staff members, but the motion was tabled at the council’s special meeting last Tuesday. The council is expected to take up the issue again during a special meeting tonight.

Wills said he would be in favor of taking the four DPW workers off the golf course, returning them to regular DPW duties, and hiring four seasonal workers at the golf course.

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