After losing its fleet of public works vehicles in a fire, the tiny town of Sandisfield has been on the receiving end of much holiday goodwill, as communities around the state have offered up their own equipment.
Bobby O’Brien, road superintendent in the Western Massachusetts town, said he’s been surprised at the response.
“It’s a pretty small community out here,” O’Brien said. “I was shocked at how many people outside of town wanted to help.”
In the wake of the blaze, O’Brien has been given several vehicles that can plow and salt roads. The city of Quincy donated three trucks, the town of Needham donated one, and Lee and Sudbury also loaned a truck each, O’Brien said.
Located along the Connecticut border, Sandisfield has fewer than 1,000 full-time residents. Although relatively small population-wise, it also boasts the most square miles of any town in Berkshire County, according to the town’s website.
When a fire in Sandisfield’s municipal garage left the town without any snowplows this month, the timing could not have been worse.
With winter looming and snow in the forecast, officials in other communities took notice.
As soon as Sudbury Public Works Director Dan Nason heard the news, he wanted to do something. He pitched his idea to the town manager and got the green light to loan Sandisfield a Chevy Silverado dump truck with a plow and spreader.
Nason said if his own public works department ever found itself in a tough situation like that, he hopes other communities would be there to lend a hand, too.
“We’re all in this together,” Nason said.
Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch also decided to donate three Autocar trucks that his city had recently retired. Chris Walker, a spokesman for Koch’s office, said the surplus snow-clearing vehicles were otherwise going to be auctioned off.
“We call them ‘snowfighters,’ ” Walker said. “These are big machines.”
On the Friday before Christmas, the three vehicles departed from the DPW yard on Sea Street in Quincy and made the 130-plus-mile journey west to Sandisfield on a flatbed truck.
“We were trying to get them there early because there was a storm coming in,” Walker said.
O’Brien was happy to have to them.
“They really went out of their way to get the trucks to us,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he ran a successful test drive of the old Quincy trucks, which date back to the 1990s, and are still in good working condition. “They run great,” he said.
Of course, the situation in Sandisfield is still far from ideal. There’s “a long road ahead,” O’Brien said.
But the generosity of the other municipalities has given the town a much-needed boost, and O’Brien is grateful for the help.
“It’s nice to know that you have that support when you need it,” he said.Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.