Steve Lubanovic is all about his community. In fact, Lubanovic believes his community in Chicora represents the ideal American hometown. "I like the fact that it is still a small town filled with people who support each other," he explains. "We still have a Memorial Day parade, the streets are lined with veterans' pictures, everyone supports local businesses and there is still a sense of community--I live in modern-day Mayberry!"
Lubanovic also cares about keeping his community safe, not only in Chicora, but all of Butler County, through his work at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), where he has worked for 32 years, currently as a Highway Foreman. Lubanovic and his five-person maintenance team perform all mowing and snow removal along State Routes in Butler County.
As winter approaches, Lubanovic makes clear his three priorities for Butler County:
"Number one priority is snow removal for public safety," he says. "We determine how much salt we may use, when to apply it, monitor it's application and effectiveness, and to make adjustments if necessary."
After preparing and acquiring winter materials, such as salt, sand and brine, comes Lubanovic's second priority: Ensuring winter equipment is operational throughout the season. "After winter storms, we wash the equipment, perform repairs if needed, replenish our materials and it's back on the road."
"Third priority: correcting water problems that create ice hazards," explains Lubanovic. "Some problems need a simple correction to eliminate water from coming onto roadways, such as cutting a high shoulder or cleaning out a catch basin. However, some issues require more complex repairs, such as installing subsurface drainage."
Lubanovic is an active member of his community, past and present. In his spare time, he volunteers as a reenactor for the Rangers of the Ohio Company, a trading company formed in 1748 with posts around present-day Allegheny and Butler Counties. "Our group attends different battlefields and forts from the era of the French and Indian War, such as Bushy Run Battlefield, Fort Fredrick, Fort Ligonier, Fort Henry, and Old Hannastown and reenact the battles that took place there," Lubanovic explains. "The main reason I joined this group is that it all centers around my community."
When he isn't steeped in his community's past, he is very much in the present. Lubanovic is currently in the midst of preparing Butler County motorists for upcoming winter weather and he asks only one thing in return: "We are people working out there, with families and friends, just like you, so please pay attention, be patient while we perform snow removal," says Lubanovic. "I was injured years ago when I worked on the Interstate crew and a tractor trailer hit us, so I respect the danger when we work on the roadway. But the families of our crew members, they only know hardship when something happens."