County roads superintendent retires

TV Hagenah

After 11 years of heading Quay County’s Road Department, Superintendent of Quay County Roads, Harry Heckendorn is retiring.

“We are so sad to see him go,” said Quay County Commissioner Grace Madrid. “He has done so much for the county and to keep it working smoothly.”

Heckendorn said he, too, was sad to be leaving but he felt the time was right. He said he has a place not far from town that has been somewhat neglected since he became roads superintendent and because of that felt it was time to retire.

“I’ve got a little farm and some cows,” said Heckendorn. “I’ll be pretty sorry to go, but I always said I would retire as soon as there was water in the lake,” said Heckendorn, “and it’s time for me to take care of the farm. I’ve been getting behind on that.”

Heckendorn said the decision to leave the county was not one he made on the spur of the moment.

“A lot of thought went into this,” said Heckendorn.

The roads superintendent said he came to Tucumcari originally to farm. He had been working in Alaska with the Army Corps of Engineers for four years and had been in Albuquerque before that, but felt it was time to return to farming.

“I wanted my children to be raised on a farm,” said Heckendorn.

Because of his experience with the Corps of Engineers and his bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University, Heckendorn was soon courted by the county to take over the road supervisor job which proved to be a challenging one.

“We have enough dirt roads in the county to go to Chicago,” said Heckendorn. “In total, there are over 11,075 miles of roads in the county. It’s a lot of work for our people.”

The people of his department are what Heckendorn feels makes the county road department as successful as it is.

“These are an incredible crew,” said the soon-to-be full-time farmer. “I am really proud of them – what they accomplish. They are so flexible. They’ll be driving a truck one day, and blading a road the next. Our numbers are small enough that we have to be flexible. That’s what makes them so good.”

Heckendorn said the key to his success as a road superintendent with the county has been his relations with the Quay County managers and commissioners.

“I’ve never had one I couldn’t work with,” said Heckendorn who has worked with four county managers and nine county commissioners.