While Alleghany County government is small in comparison to most counties, the infrastructure is surprisingly expansive. Some properties such as the courthouse, administrative building, transfer station and fairgrounds are seen by many on a daily basis while the community college, public library, social services and health department and others are a bit more off the daily traveled path. One commonality among these scattered service providers is that the facilities have to be maintained. That job falls to Josh Greene and his staff with the Alleghany County maintenance department.
Josh Greene grew up in Alleghany County in the Ennice community. He graduated from Alleghany High School in 2003 where he played basketball, golf, baseball and wrestled. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoys hunting, fishing and in his words, “everything outdoors.”
When Josh was 14, he took a part-time job with Robert Patrick of Patrick’s Heating and Cooling. There he learned the basics of heating and air conditioning repair. Josh came to enjoy being given a problem, working to diagnose the cause of the issue, and then developing a solution.
After high school graduation, Josh gave the air conditioning, heating and refrigeration program at Surry Community College (SCC) a try. One semester was enough. He left SCC and went to work with Shaw Brothers Construction where he received a hands-on education in general construction, and heating and air conditioning repair. He worked with Shaw Brothers for eight years before coming to the Alleghany County maintenance department on 2011. In 2013, he became the department supervisor.
The maintenance of county properties is an overwhelming task. Interior and exterior light bulbs have to be changed, leaky plumbing repaired, and rooms painted. There are scores of trash cans to be emptied, floors to be mopped or vacuumed, and furniture to be wiped down. The maintenance staff maintains the county’s fleet of vehicles and the heavy equipment at the transfer station. Throughout an average day, the crew moves from building to building. Often, they are pulled from one job to another that has a higher sense of urgency. And when they “catch up,” they handle construction projects such as the recent shelter at Veterans Park or the new maintenance building. Josh handles these responsibilities with three maintenance staff and two custodians.
One of Josh’s biggest challenges is the operation of the county’s transfer station. The station operates 12 hours a day, six days a week and is managed by two teams of two employees. Last year, they handled 9200 tons of household trash, building materials, scrap lumber, oil, and other materials. That is over 18 million pounds of refuse. The county contracts to have this trash hauled to a landfill in Caldwell County for $65 per ton for an annual cost of $598,000 per year. While the transfer station staff encourages users to recycle, Josh estimates that between 10% and 20% of the trash hauled to the landfill could be recycled. This would save county residents upwards of $100,000 per year.
The transfer station is also one of the biggest sources of complaints for Josh and his staff. With an average of 60,000 pounds of trash deposited each day, it is inevitable that the wind will carry some out of the receptacles. They rely on community service workers to help with this clean up.
Another surprising area of responsibility for the maintenance staff is animal control. They average 2-3 animal pickups per week. They also average one dog bite investigation per week. These are time consuming tasks that often include follow-up consultations with the local health department and law enforcement.
It sounds exhausting.
It also points to someone who is committed to their community.
Josh, his wife Karena, and their three children are deeply rooted into the Ennice community on the family farm. Karena works for the county tax department. The three children are students at Sparta Elementary. Josh coaches baseball and the family attends Living by Faith Baptist Church in nearby Independence, Virginia.
Josh, his wife, and the county maintenance staff are reflective of so many Alleghany County residents. They go about their lives a quiet manner that can easily go unnoticed, often working two – sometimes three jobs– in order to live in Alleghany. They provide us with services and coach our kids’ athletic teams. They work all week, worship on Sunday and start it all again on Monday. People like Josh Greene are the bindings that hold our community together.