Local Spotlight: Shaun Leeking and Johnny Aragon keep Snowmass roads in shape | AspenTimes.com

Local Spotlight: Shaun Leeking and Johnny Aragon keep Snowmass roads in shape

Road division workers focus on safety, community

Snowmass Village road division workers Shaun Leeking (left) and Johnny Aragon pose with a town truck near Two Creeks on Friday, May 21, 2021.
Kaya Williams/The Snowmass Sun

For two public works employees who spend most of their day on the roads of Snowmass Village, locals Shaun Leeking and Johnny Aragon sure do appreciate the short commute that comes with living in town.

Both of them consider it a perk to living in the town where they work — but there’s more to it than that.

“Snowmass, it’s great. The air quality, the convenience of the mountain, and the free shuttle serves to get around which is really nice,” Aragon said during a joint interview with Leeking near Two Creeks on May 21.

“I love the simple living, you know? Easy living so to speak, simple living,” Leeking added. “And I like having my family right here with me in the town I work in, which is rare for most people.”

Leeking, a road maintenance foreperson, and Aragon, a road maintenance operator, are part of the half dozen or so road division staffers that keep Snowmass Village’s 39 miles of roadways plowed, paved, sealed and shouldered year-round under the department of public works umbrella.

“Every day is a little different,” Leaking said. “We usually know what we’re doing the day before — usually things change quickly.”

Their team works on projects in the town’s right-of-way, often in collaboration with other public works divisions — sealing cracks in the road, changing banners for special events, painting crosswalks, installing flashing beacons for pedestrian safety and making signs in the departments in-house woodshop. Winter work also involves clearing snow and ice in the wee hours of the early morning, sometimes without a real weekend for several weeks.

“We’re kind of ‘go go go’ the whole time,” Leeking said; safety is always the top priority for the community and for public works employees.

It’s a team effort, according to Leeking. Fitting, then, that the town rallied for a drizzly Town Clean Up Day on May 21, right toward the end of National Public Works Week; Aragon and Leeking participated by picking up trash themselves and driving around town loading up the bed of a truck with full bags from the community’s cleanup efforts.

“That’s what’s cool about (the cleanup) is everyone kind of getting together,” Leeking said May 21. “Stronger together — that’s the theme this week. … Everyone picking up trash, making it a greener place, helping the water be healthier, it’s a really great day.”

Aragon considers public works “a great place to work,” he said.

“It’s just all around — there’s not one thing that we do that just brings me to (the) road (division),” Aragon said. “It’s the whole package. It’s all, everything we do.”

“We try to have fun,” Leeking added. “That’s the kind of thing that makes a difference no matter where you work is who you work with, you know?”

As far as Leeking is concerned, public works has the “who you work with” base covered. His favorite part about the job is “serving the community and the group of folks I work with around town,” he said.

“It’s a great bunch of folks at public works.”

Know a Snowmass Village local you’d like to see in the spotlight? Email Kaya Williams at kwilliams@aspentimes.com.