After 27 years of working as the office manager for the Grant County Road Department, Kathy Gillam will retire at the beginning of February.
Gillam has trained and worked with six roadmasters and raised millions of dollars in grant funding for projects. One of her biggest accomplishments, she said, was the transition from the old Road Department building in Canyon City to the new facility on Lower Yard Road.
“It’s a little shack, I can tell you that, and when the wind blew, it was super cold in there, and in the summer, it was super hot,” said Gillam about the old office. “That was my deal, getting out of there and getting another place.”
It took several years to complete the project that started in 2004, which included a new office building, a shop with a mezzanine and a wash bay, a truck barn and a lunch/locker room for the Road Department. Aside from more space for equipment and a better building, the new location was ideal away from residential areas, Gillam said.
Gillam also focused on acquiring grants and securing state and federal funding for various equipment and projects.
“I’m usually looking for money before we spend it,” Gillam said. “You have to be diligent and know what you’re talking about and what you’re doing before you submit applications because you are competing with a lot of other counties, and it’s a great deal for the county. We do get SRS (Secure Rural Schools) funds, but why wait until we run out of money instead of keeping it replenished?”
Gillam said the road department is currently looking great financially, but a road or bridge project can come up at any time and cost millions of dollars.
Maintaining roads at a proper level is important, Gillam said, because it minimizes the chances of having to replace the whole road, which costs much more than routine maintenance.
“If a road gets past a certain stage, moisture gets underneath the pavement, and then you have to do a total reconstruct,” Gillam said.
Gillam said the Road Department has invested time and money into chip-sealing roadways because it prevents water from going under the pavement.
She said she has enjoyed working with the people in the department over the years, and her retirement goals include spending more time with family, taking photographs and fishing.
“There’s been ups and downs, but I hung in there, and I persevered,” Gillam said. “It was a rewarding job to get the funding so we can continue on keeping the road system safe in the best possible way. I’ve appreciated the years of service and feel a sense of reward that I made a difference in some place and in people’s lives.”