Andrew Gagnon, known as “Buzz,” is an equipment operator for Auburn Public Works. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

AUBURN — They can be tasked with planting flowers in the morning, then digging a ditch or filling in potholes in the afternoon. Switching gears at the drop of a hat comes hand-in-hand with working for Auburn’s Public Works department, especially when it involves weather.

Andrew Gagnon, an equipment operator for the city, takes it all in stride. “It changes it up you know, it’s not the repetitive everyday thing,” he said. “So that’s just me. I’ve always, always been that way.”

Gagnon was a regional truck driver for seven years before he was hired by Public Works in December 2019. While he wasn’t a long-haul driver and was able to be home most nights, changing jobs and working for his hometown allows him to watch his boys play football or other school activities, something he missed out on when he was on the road.

Denis D’Auteuil, the director of Public Works, said crews can be assigned to provide support at community events, preparing sports fields, or rebuilding a section of road after a major storm like the area experienced last week. “The work assignments can change frequently and change on a moment’s notice due to weather or other needs that arise in the community, so it requires our employees to be flexible and to adapt to changing conditions.”

He said Gagnon has been given all kinds of assignments at Public Works. “He takes each task with a positive upbeat attitude,” D’Auteuil said. “He demonstrates his pride and commitment to the Auburn community through his work product each and every day.”

That’s high praise from a boss who no doubt gets bombarded with work requests every day of the year because his department is the city’s “fix-it” shop.


Maine Department of Transportation figures show that Auburn has the highest number of miles of public roads in Androscoggin County at 232, including interstate, state highway and local. And they all have to be kept clear through the winter. The city’s snow and ice control plan calls for 43 highways/parks maintenance workers, four fleet maintenance employees and six supervisors to accomplish that. Public Works has 53 employees and 17 in the same job classification as Andrew Gagnon.

Just about everyone at Public Works gets a shift behind the wheel of those big orange trucks once the snow flies, Gagnon said, calling it definitely a different experience.

“I’ve plowed before — not with a big truck and a wing you know,” he said. “I’ve just done my own driveway and stuff. You put that wing on there and you’ve got a whole other thing to pay attention to and watch.” He said it can be tricky dealing with traffic, navigating mailboxes, telephone poles and trash cans on trash day.

Andrew Gagnon, an equipment operator for Auburn Public Works, works Wednesday at a job site behind Festival Plaza. He joined the department in 2019. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“It’s not that stressful,” Gagnon added, “you got a lot more to pay attention to on the right side.”

Gagnon’s truck driving experience has helped him advance in his current position, with his selection to become a driver trainer, which he is being certified for. He said he considers himself a patient teacher and that everyone learns at a different pace. Little mistakes are OK, huge mistakes are clearly not.

“You don’t want to get them in a predicament that they can’t get themselves out of, and then now they’re so nervous that they’ve lost everything they’ve learned already and their confidence … little mistakes, I mean, that’s how you learn.”


“Andrew has the equipment operation skills and leadership qualities to be an excellent trainer and we are excited to see where Andrew will take his career at Auburn Public Works,” D’Auteuil said.

Gagnon said he took the position at Public Works as a career move, attracted by the benefits and the possibilities for the future. He said he could see himself becoming a crew leader one day or even a supervisor down the road. “Way later when I’m tired of doing all the manual labor,” he added.

Gagnon is known by his co-workers as “Buzz” or “Buzzard,” The nickname started with his father years ago and it just kind of carried over, he explained.

“I got long, thick hair and I don’t like it,” he declared. So, he keeps it short under that ball cap and hard hat.

In his time off, the 36-year-old said he likes to tinker mechanically at home and go camping in Chesterville and Jackman, where family members have camps.

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