Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Good Roads, Good People!

By Will Bublitz

Keeping the roadways in good repair is a large part of the life and work of Kris Smith, the Lincoln County Road & Bridge office manager at the County Shop in Hugo.

While this is Kris’s 10th year as the department’s office manager, her involvement in road construction and maintenance goes much deeper because most of her family works in it.

“My father brought us to Limon in 1969 when he was working on the construction of Interstate 70,” Kris said. “My brother is a road foreman, and all my nephews work in road construction. My husband works for Bemas Construction that does all the dirt work for road and housing construction. So, you could say my family is strong in highway construction and maintenance.”

As the office manager, Kris handles all of the administrative work for the county’s Road & Bridge Department which has 29 employees. Lincoln County is divided into four road districts including District 4 which is the County Shop in Hugo.

“I do all the department’s paperwork including payroll, service requests and usage reports on the department’s equipment,” she said. “I also get to go to Denver and Burlington to get the parts for our vehicles and equipment. And, of course, I answer the phone to handle all the complaints and requests for road maintenance.”

In addition to these tasks, Kris puts together the “hiring packets” for all of the department’s new employees. She also is in charge of the random drug testing of the employees as required by state law.
“I take the sample kits to the lab at the hospital,” she said. “It’s also my job to inform the foreman on who has been randomly selected for the tests. In the 10 years I’ve been office manager, we’ve been lucky that we’ve never had to discharge anyone for drugs.”

And if her job were not already demanding enough, Kris spends a few days every year working as a flagger on one of the department’s road projects.

“How long I work as a flagger depends on how big the job is,” she said. “It could only be a day or two, or it might be all week. Everybody in the Road & Bridge Department is both a certified flagger and certified in first aid. All of the guys are also certified in gravel pit operations which is a three-day course for a new employee as well as an additional six hours every year.”

Despite the demanding nature of her work, Kris said she really enjoys working for the Road & Bridge Department.

“I think it is an interesting job,” she said. “The good thing about it is everything doesn’t happen all at once. And I get along with all the guys in the department.”

Part of the reason Kris enjoys her job so much is that she is serving the community where she grew up. Born in Fort Collins, her family moved to Limon in 1969 when she was in third grade.
“My Dad had worked on the construction of Interstate 80 in Wyoming,” she said. “We then moved to Crooke, Colo. when he was working on Highway 76 and my Mom managed the gas station there. We finally moved to Limon when he started working on I-70. When we got there, my Mom said she was done moving and so we stayed.”

After graduating from Limon High School in 1981, Kris got married and gave birth to two children. During this time, she worked as a baker at the Rip Griffin truckstop in Limon for 14 years.
After divorcing her first husband, Kris married Rom Smith, who is originally from New Mexico. Together, they had two more children.

“For six years, I worked as the office manager for the ADM grain elevator in Hugo,” she said. “I really enjoyed that job because I got to meet a lot of great farmers. But after ADM sold the elevator, I decided to leave.

“Chris Monks, District 1 foreman and County Shop foreman, then asked me if I’d be interested in working for Road & Bridge. I applied and got the office manager’s job. I really enjoy it. While some days are challenging, other days here at the office are peaceful.”

When not working, Kris enjoys spending time with her four children – Justin Jaques of Limon, Curtis Jaques of Broomfield, Tyler Smith of Bennett and Brooke Smith, a Limon High School student. She also has four grandchildren.

Kris admits that one of her favorite pasttimes is bowling.

“I’ve been bowling since I was in the seventh grade,” she said. “I’m still an active bowler on two leagues, and I’m the Lincoln County Bowling Association manager.”
Kris also enjoys spending time with her husband Ron.

“Ron and I love riding motorcycles,” she said. “It’s our hobby. We also love boating and waterskiing.”

No comments:

Post a Comment