Andrew Mc Gill is the highway superintendent for the town of Santa Clara. On Aug. 1, he will have officially had the title for 10 full years.
Mc Gill was born in Saranac Lake in 1951, and lived there for six years before his family moved to Lake Clear. He lived there for five years and then moved to Paul Smiths for one year, before moving back to Lake Clear. In 1976, he spent a year in Monterey, Calif. Finally, a year later, he returned to Saranac Lake and worked at the quarries, which he continued to do for the next 27 years before taking up his current post.
Mc Gill attended St. Pius High School in Saranac Lake, graduating in 1969. Ever since then, he has worked in construction - driving trucks, taking care of the roads and keeping the equipment up.
Andrew Mc Gill
(Photo — Stefanie Chippefield)
"It's a little different than my other job," he explained, "because I was out with the public all the time when I worked at the quarries." There he drove a Redimix truck and would be working with a bunch of different people at any given time. "Here, there aren't so many people - you see mostly the same people all the time."
He said that he enjoys coming to work every day and the job has a nice pace, and he has a good crew of people working for him.
"If I'm not around, they can fend for themselves," he said. "They know what has to be done and they can take care of it." There's something different every day - except in the winter, when every day involves plowing. Hassles are few and far between, unless the weather takes a turn for the worse; then he and the others have to be called away from dinner to work on things.
Mc Gill said he feels that he and his crew are doing a real service for the local community, getting out there and keeping everything up and running well, keeping the roads in good shape, and if someone has a problem, they'll try to take care of it as quickly as they can - though, usually, the problems are minor, such as a downed tree.
"It keeps us going," he said.
He said the Adirondacks are a great place to live and that it's quiet most of the time. The people are friendly, and if you like the outdoors, there's always something to do. Mc Gill likes to hunt and fish. In the fall, he likes driving his four-wheeler around, and in the summer, he likes to play golf with all of his retired buddies.
The majority of his family live in the Tri-Lakes area; his mother and father still live in Saranac Lake as well as his three younger brothers and two sisters. A couple of his aunts and uncles live in town, and he also has relatives in Tupper Lake.
Mc Gill fondly recalled growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, when he and the other neighborhood kids would spend their summer days riding their bikes, fishing or playing baseball. On winter days, they would go hunting or riding their snowmobiles.
"You left in the morning, came back for dinner, went out until dark," he said. "When it was dark, it was time to go home."
He and his friends were also in 4-H, Little League and the Boy Scouts.
Every weekend during deer season, Mc?Gill goes to the Adirondack Identify and Shoot Sportsmans Club (ASIC). He and his buddies used to go duck hunting a lot, but he said he hasn't done that in years. He also used to go rabbit hunting on the weekends, but hasn't since his old dog died. He has a new dog, a basset hound named Magoo. "She's a little short legged for rabbit hunting," he said with a chuckle. "She'd sooner be on the couch than outside."
He also has a calico cat named Eva, which he and his wife Laurie adopted from the animal shelter.
Andy and Laurie were married in Saranac Lake and have been together for 20 years. They have known each other since they were kids, and both of their families were very close.
"We just happened to get together; started dating for a couple years, then got married," he said.
They have no children; however, he has several nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews, who he sees frequently.
Since May 3, 1973, Mc Gill has served in nearly every position at the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department. He began as a lieutenant before working his way up to captain, then second assistant chief, first assistant chief, chief, and back to first assistant chief, after which he took over as acting chief for a year. He's also been secretary, treasurer and a paid driver for a couple of years. He was chief of the SLVFD during the ice storm of 1998.
"That kept us busy for several days," he said. "It was pretty exciting."
Mc Gill said that he doesn't get excited or mad very easily. He's a very laid-back, easygoing, open-book kind of guy, and anyone that knows him for any amount of time pretty much has his whole story.
"The guys at the quarry used to say that if I had one less nerve I'd be dead," he joked.
Nowadays, he worries when the weather is bad and could cause accidents, especially in the winter - though, even then, "As long as I can keep everything on an even keel, then it all works out. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves."
This story was based on an interview with Andrew Mc?Gill.