It was a hot day in July when a member of the township’s tree cutting crew was called into service.
Russ Buchinsky had been a tree climber and cutter for 23 years before coming to work for East Brunswick just a few months ago. His work had been good, but on this day, he was being asked to do something out of the ordinary. .
All in a days work for the township worker. In fact, it was the second time in a year that the crew had been called to help with a bear. Last year, supervisor Charlie Reid had to something similar .
“They do a lot of the shade tree work, and I have no idea how we would do everything if we didn’t have a talented crew like Charlie and his guys,” said Mike Reissner, director of Department of Recreation, Parks & Community Services.
The crew of four—Reid as supervisor and three field guys—works just about every day of the year and braves rain, darkness, snow, and heat to trim branches and remove trees near streets and power lines, clean up after storms, and maintain trees on township property. The crew does work for just about every township department, including planning and engineering. Right now the crew is working with public works by removing trees along Rolling Road, which is slated to be repaved. Part of that project will include a tree replacement program when the time is right.
“It’s a lot of work for three guys, we get 10 from people that want trees taken down. So I take a look and if its legitimate, I take it down," said Reid.
The tree crew is especially important during bad weather. Really bad weather. Weather like Hurricane Irene, or the early snowstorm in October 2011, which knocked branches and trees down. Even a few weeks ago when the area was hit with a violent thunderstorm, the workers were on call and ready to go out in the dark and rain to clear trees from the road, remove branches around power lines, and anything else the town needed.
“When we get a call from Austin (Kosik, township Emergency Management Coordinator) I’m ready,” said Reid.
But care must be taken when working around live wires or using power saws in the dark and rain, and each member of the crew is trained to work safely and equipment is constantly inspected and maintained.
“We do a lot of safety checks so that it’s not an issue,” said Reid. “The equipment is greased, the chipper is greased and we make sure everything is working safely.”
If last year is any indication, those safety checks will be needed. With Hurricane season here, and the winter months fast approaching, the tree crew could be busier than ever. Last year the crew was cleaning up after Hurricane Irene until the end of the year and also had to deal with the early October snowstorm.
“They had a couple bad storms,” said Reissner. “If you have a storm, there might be trees down, and you might not even know about it because they’re out there. These guys provide an invaluable service for the township.”