Super Senior: Billy Baker

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 6:26 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Vt. (WCAX) - Here’s the dirt -- mud season is still clinging on in Montgomery, and it’s 78-year-old Billy Baker’s job to make the roads passable.

“There’s no end to potholes,” said the town’s road warrior, effortlessly climbing into his grader.

“If you’re in the way in the road, Billy will let you know,” said Mark Brouillette, Montgomery’s road commissioner. “Billy knows every inch. We have about 43 miles of roads and he knows every inch of them.” The vast majority are unpaved.

“I’ve always worked on heavy equipment. I worked on the interstate for 21 years,” Baker said. He left the town garage in 2005 after some health issues but came back two years ago after a desperate phone call from Brouillette.

“I said, ‘Billy, we’re in a bind.’ The former employee got done. I needed somebody for the grader because people are stranded,” Brouillette recalled.

It was the height of mud season. “Oh yeah, I just come down, got in the grader, took off. I knew what to do,” Baker said.

“He wasn’t going to keep these people stranded and not able to sleep at night,” Brouillette said.

The next stop on our tour of the town is a hillside road just off Montgomery Center. “You have to have a feel for the blade and know what you’re doing,” Baker explained. You could say, It’s Billy’s way or the highway. “I’m kind of fussy where I want it to dump, and I want it to dump where I want it.”

In his early years, his nickname was Red, for his ginger hair, and some say his red-hot temper. “I’m not so bad as I used to be. In my younger days I was worse than that,” he said. “I’ve kind of mellowed out a little bit.”

All the years on the big machines without ear protection have left him hard of hearing.

Reporter Joe Carroll: So these guys may be talking behind your back and you don’t even know it.

Billy Baker: I don’t care. ...Nah, let them talk.

What they’re talking about is admiration for a Super Senior. Just ask road foreman Scott Ovitt. “I have a hard time keeping up with him sometimes,” Ovitt admitted.

“That’s right. I keep going every day. And if I don’t keep going each day, I don’t know what to do,” added Baker.