By Robert Lucke
In Alice in Wonderland, the queens men go around painting all the roses red. In Havre, the mayors men are out each year painting curbs, cross walks and handicapped areas white, yellow and blue.
The painting job lasts each year from when the weather turns warm enough in the spring to start painting until far into the fall when it is cold enough that the job has to stop.
And yet, according to painters Matt Pozega and Josh Kirby, the job is never complete.
After school is out in June is usually a good time to start their painting. Pozega and Kirby are in charge of painting anything that the city of Havre needs painting, consisting primarily of street signs, parking lines, curbs, center lines, school crossings, stop blocks, street signs, and handicapped areas. They are all the bailiwick of Havres two painters.
Head painter Pozega has been painting for the last two years but has been with the city of Havre for the last 13 years. This is Kirbys first summer on the job.
Being in the middle of Havre streets much of the time, Pozega explained that it is not as dangerous as it looks.
We wear orange vests and really look out for each other, said Pozega. We have not even had any close calls, but in places like the hospital hill, we post signs saying there are workers ahead. And when we are downtown, we finish each day before the traffic really starts.
Pozega said the worst part of the job is painting hospital hill.
Weve got to hold back the machine and the weight of the paint all the way down the hospital hill, continued Pozega. We start at the emergency exit of the hospital and go all the way down to Fifth Avenue.
Pozega and Kirby estimate they will use from 650 to 700 gallons of street paint this season. They will paint up until the middle of September and still the job will not be completed.
There is a method to Havres street painting that evolves from year to year.
We always start with cross walks, said Pozega. It is a safety deal. We work on yellow lines on the outskirts of downtown. Then curbs after that. Then cross walks again, and after that, parking lines. After that, center lines, then schools. We have to get the schools finished before school starts.
One of the best things about painting city streets is that the job is always laid out in front of them with last years marks.
Basically, we know what we have to do, said Kirby. There is not much standing around. You just go and do it and when you are out in the middle of the street, you have to just trust people to pay attention that you are in the street.
Thats why I like the job, said Pozega. You know what you have to do and you just go and do it.
As long as the paint wears out, the job continues.
We never run out of something to paint, added Pozega. We just run out of time to do it.
When driving through Havre and you spy fellows in safety vests surrounded by orange cones, you will know that that is the mayors painting crew out painting the streets white, yellow and blue.