CUSTER COUNTY—Two employees with the Custer County Highway Department recently earned their Class B License for designation of Highway Superintendent in the state of Nebraska. Nick Olson and Kass Boje have each worked as Heavy Equipment Operators for the Custer County Highway Department for about two years.
Boje and Olson were two of seven people who successfully completed the April 6 examination (held in Lincoln) and are now licensed by the Board of Examiners for County Highway Superintendents. Custer County Highway Superintendent Chris Jacobsen said only about 30% of the people who take the test pass it and many people have to attempt the test multiple times.
According to a Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) press release, superintendents are qualified to administer county, city village, road and street programs, including:
♦ preparing one- and six-year improvement plans,
♦ assisting in preparing annual budgets and financial reports,
♦ supervising the annual program for design, construction and maintenance of roads and streets, and
♦ coordinating plans with adjacent counties, cities, villages, and with NDOT.
Originally from Genoa, Olson said the certification opens up many doors for him in the future and enjoys the fact that every day is different from the one before.
“Some days you never know what you’re going to do, kind of floating around doing this or that and everything’s different from day to day, it’s kind of nice to do that. You get to see a lot of different parts of the county and different jobs,” Olson said.
Kass Boje, from Broken Bow, echoed that sentiment and said the crews go where they are needed for various drainage, culverts, bridges, or asphalt projects.
“We joke, it’s kind of like a ‘lunchbox position.’ We never know where we’re going to be, what we’re going to be doing day-to-day, so you don’t ever leave without your lunchbox because you don’t know when you’ll be back,” Boje said.
Moving forward, Olson and Boje hope to be able to utilize their knowledge to assist Jacobsen for continued on-the-job training and to possibly become superintendents themselves someday. Prepping for the test was almost a year-long process and both men said they now have a new understanding and appreciation of just how much work goes into running a highway department.
“We’d been getting ready for this test for pretty much a year and it was a lot of work,” Olson said.
With the help and encouragement of Jacobsen, Nick and Kass took classes in Ogallala over the last year to prep for the six-hour test. Boje said “We have a piece of paper from the state.” Now that it is official, they hope to make the most out of this opportunity.
“It’s an opportunity is really what it is. Hopefully we get an opportunity to follow Chris more closely and understand the day-to-day,” Boje said.
The test consisted of plan reading, construction math, budget, bridges, roads, maintenance, and one and six year plans. The test also featured true/false, essay, and multiple choice questions as well as an interview.