B y Jaime Thomas
As other residents cozied under blankets inside last week, Bob Meldrum bundled up to brave the elements.
Rather than doing just the minimum in snow and bitter cold, the retired superintendent of schools and Rotarian goes the extra mile—literally.
With every snowstorm during the past 25 years, he has taken it upon himself to plow the stretch of sidewalk on Main Street from the Vermont border to Slocum Avenue.
“He’s what you call the Good Samaritan on Main Street,” said resident Helen Macura, one of the neighbors whose driveway Meldrum clears. She said her brother used to plow her out, but Meldrum stopped him years ago and told her he would do it instead.
“Yesterday he was waiting to plow until the snow stopped, but he called me and he said, ‘Call me first if you have an emergency and have to get out. Don’t call anyone else,’” Macura said, noting the other ways he actively contributes to the community.
Her nephew, Michael Macura, lives across the street and also benefits from Meldrum’s beneficence. He said he’s known his neighbor for years and said the extensive, volunteer snowplowing keeps with his character.
“He’s done it faithfully for years. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s such a good person. People should appreciate that, because Bob is a good guy,” Macura said, referencing his work as superintendent.
“It comes with the territory; he continues to do things that help people,” he said.
Al Roberts, whose office is on Main Street, agreed with Macura.
“Bob is that way period. He’s a very caring and sincere guy,” Roberts said. “He does that without anybody asking. He’s just a great guy and it’s very nice of him to do that, and I know there are a lot of other people who feel the same way.”
For his part, Meldrum modestly explained that he simply likes to plow and to help.
“Anybody who needs a hand, I just like to be out there. It’s my pleasure. It’s something I enjoy to do,” he said. He first began plowing in 1990 as a retiree with a new machine. He cleans out his own driveway, some of his neighbor’s driveways and the sidewalk. He finds the sidewalk to be especially important because of pedestrians who come from West Pawlet and other spots near the border.
“It bothers me that mail carriers and people who walk into town have to walk in the street,” he said, because the village is not always immediately able to come through. Department of Public Works Superintendent Dan Williams pointed out that the village plows only as a courtesy, which makes Meldrum’s efforts all the more important.
“It’s very helpful for us, and it’s extremely helpful for residents,” he said.
And while Meldrum doesn’t accept payment for his good deeds, he said he appreciates getting notes and thank-yous.
“Those kinds of things make me feel good,” he said.
“If I feel it helps other people that’s a wonderful feeling—and it gets me out of the house,” he laughed.