Featured, Local News

Mendon, Gov. Scott honors Doug Casella

By Ethan Weinstein

MENDON — When Tropical Storm Irene destroyed Route 4 in Mendon at the end of August 2011, people said it would take until November to rebuild the road. But the reconstruction team, led by Doug Casella, rebuilt Route 4 in just 18 days.

By Ethan Weinstein
Gov. Scott and Doug Casella shake hands.

On Friday, Sept. 24, the town of Mendon celebrated Casella’s awe-inspiring efforts, unveiling a marble plaque — surrounded by river stones he removed during the reconstruction effort — in his honor situated on the grounds of Sugar & Spice.

Mendon Select Board members Richard Wilcox and Larry Courcelle called Casella a “local hero,” a title at which Casella modestly winced. Courcelle recalled confronting a destroyed Route 4 and feeling he was in over his head as a Select Board member. But the Casella-led team, which also consisted of people from Markowski Excavating, Belden Company and the Maine National Guard, began the rebuild, a job Casella compared to constructing a “long driveway.”

“The reconstruction of Route 4 in Mendon became the model for all road construction in Vermont rebuilt [after Irene],” said Courcelle.

Governor Scott — who was lieutenant governor during Irene — recalled visiting Mendon shortly after the storm. Casella was in the middle of operating a grader when he hopped out of the vehicle and ran up to Scott, asking that Vermont loosen restrictions on working in Mendon Brook and gathering building materials. Scott called then-governor Peter Shumlin, who granted Casella’s wish.

“He always wants to finish what he starts,” Scott said of Casella, adding that Casella “literally shaped this region” by putting back together its major east-west throughway.

By Ethan Weinstein
Doug Casella and his family pose beside the plaque, made from a slab of Danby marble.

The day’s event came as a surprise to Casella. The day before, his family sent him all across the state in search of non-existent spare parts. When Casella decided to start the day before dawn, he threw the secrecy of the installation process into jeopardy. With Casella’s family tracking him via his phone, Courcelle blocked the plaque with his truck as Casella approached on Route 4.

Thinking back to September 2011, Casella commended the work of Markowski and Belden, who assisted him with the job. “We’re competitors, but everybody worked together. You wouldn’t see that in Massachusetts or some place else.”

Though reluctant to accept all of the praise, Casella noted the quality of the work he put in. “The road’s still there,” Casella said. But not everyone spoke in such understatement.

Courcelle summed up the afternoon’s purpose in his address to Casella: “On behalf of the town of Mendon, I want to thank you for being a hero.”

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