ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) For Art LaGrange, springtime means he's out on the street.
He runs what his boss calls "Street Sweeper 1." It's a bit of an inside joke since Essex Junction only has only one. For the last 20 years LaGrange has kept the streets scrubbed and spotless.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You're going kind of slow.
Art LaGrange: Ah! Dead slow, dead slow. You'll see.
The average speed of the machine is around 1 mph. It's so the winter's dirt and debris is sucked up and less of it ends up in the sewer.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Off we go. You kind of have to have some patience.
Art LaGrange: Oh yeah, very much.
It's a quality LaGrange admits was sometimes lacking in his younger years. Now 82, he's become more introspective. "My philosophy is if there is something you want to do, do it -- cause you don't know if you are going to be around tomorrow to do it," he said.
Life changed in an instant for LaGrange and many area residents close to 35 years ago. An Amtrak train derailed close to the village one hot day in July.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Had you ever seen anything like that?
Art LaGrange: No, no.
He heard on the scanner about the accident. A retired firefighter at the time, he went into action. He heard a woman hollering for help. "So one guy leaned on my feet as I leaned over," LaGrange said.
He cut copper pipe and wires to get the woman to safety. LaGrange was one of many Vermonters who saved lives that day. Unfortunately, five people died and close to 150 were injured in the worst modern train disaster to hit the state. "You know, you never know," he said.
LaGrange grew up in the area. He and his wife Jean have been married for over 50 years. He is by far the oldest of the 10 member public works crew. "They all got down to just calling me the 'Old Man.' I am, I can admit it," he said.
Ron Bundy doesn't call him old man out of respect.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So you admire him?
Ron Bundy: I admire Art very well, he's almost like a father figure for me right there.
Moving at a glacial pace gives you time to reflect, but the job comes first. "When I go out, I don't want to leave anything behind me," he said. "There is just so much dirt."
For LaGrange, it's a clean sweep.