Longtime road commissioner Dave Weaver retires

Dylan Polk TimesNewspapers
In this 2013 file photo, Washington Township Road Commissioner David Weaver cuts the ribbon to officially open Centennial Drive in Washington.

WASHINGTON — For over four decades, Dave Weaver helped ensure the safety and quality of Washington’s roads, serving as Washington Township’s road commissioner since 1970.

Forty-five years later, Weaver has decided to call it a career, retiring at the age of 71.

Of course, road commissioner was just one of many positions held by Weaver, who also served as Washington’s fire chief for two years — he served with the Washington Fire Department for 12 years total — and was also a board member with the East Central Highway Commissioners Association.

In addition, Weaver was director of the Illinois Township Highway Commissioners Association, and president, secretary and treasurer of the Tazewell County Highway Commissioners.

Needless to say, public service has been the central focus of Weaver’s career.

“I worked for the highway commissioner before me for six years, just plowing snow,” Weaver said. “He quit six months before his term was up, and they wanted me to take his position. That’s what got me started with the township.”

The highway commissioner position was the role he played the longest. During his tenure, Weaver helped maintain the infrastructure throughout Washington Township. In winter, that means keeping the roads clear of snow and ice. In summer, the township inspects and improves the quality of roads throughout Washington Township, and deals with contracts for road maintenance and hot patching asphalt.

In addition, Weaver said, township workers may be called to respond to an accident or any other occurrence that could cause some sort of damage to infrastructure. The job is one that requires those serving to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To Weaver, the winters particularly stand out.

“We’ve had some bad winters over the last 45 years,” Weaver said. “I think we’ve had three of the worst snowstorms in the last 45.”

Load limits also presented a challenge to the township over the years, Weaver said.

“I’d say the biggest challenges throughout would probably be in the (springtime) with load limits. I hated load limits because you’d tear up a road so easy and people don’t realize what they cost,” Weaver said. “You’re over $100 a ton for a blacktop now and hot patch, and it’s just gone skyrocketing, what it costs to maintain these roads. The motor-fuel tax hasn’t changed, I don’t think, in the last 19 years.”

Over the years, Weaver said, technology has changed the way the job has been done.

“We had electric hydraulic pumps. ... They all ran off the engine of the truck back then,” Weaver said. “You didn’t have hydraulic sanders, you had a chain-driven sander on the back of the truck. ... The equipment’s really changed.”

In short, the highway commissioner’s job is hard work, and it’s one that will stay in the family; Weaver’s son, Scott, has stepped into the role as highway commissioner, having worked for his father since he could drive.

“He knows the roads, he knows the equipment. That’s a big plus,” Weaver said. “Since I retired, I’ve helped him ... make the levy out, and when it comes time for the budget, I’ll help him with the budget if he needs help.”

In the meantime, Weaver’s retirement itinerary is wide open, earning some time off after 45 years of work. When asked what his plans are, he replied, “Nothing. Take a break.”