(Fremont County, WY) – An 18-year maintenance supervisor on South Pass has been promoted to lead Wyoming Department of Transportation maintenance efforts in Lander, Riverton, Dubois and South Pass.
Mike Hitshew, of Lander, began his new duties this month. He replaces Jim Thomas, of Basin, who retired in April.
Prior to his promotion, Hitshew had spent his entire 34-year WYDOT career with the South Pass crew, having gained his start as a temporary summer flagger in 1986. “When I graduated from high school in 1987, I went back as a flagger and then started full-time work in 1987,” Hitshew says.
Hitshew was promoted to heavy equipment operator in 2001, and then, South Pass maintenance foreman in 2003.
“South Pass was a learning experience from Day 1, and I’ve been continuously learning through all the years,” Hitshew says. “South Pass is the perfect place to learn about WYDOT and public service.”
Hitshew has spent years plowing snow across WY28, maintaining the remote South Pass highway camp, and maintaining the South Pass Rest Area. He’s worked on water, sewer and septic projects, and his crew has worked hand-in-hand with WYDOT engineers and construction companies to rebuild WY28 over South Pass, including the realignment of the highway over the former U.S. Steel Mine to improve safety.
“Digital-message signs are now in play for travelers, as well as variable speed limits during challenging weather. We’ve also worked with legislators and the Wyoming Trucking Association to improve our state’s chain law to keep our state moving,” Hitshew says.
“South Pass has been a great place to live, to raise family, to hunt, to fish,” he says. “It was definitely time for a change, and I plan to keep learning. I’m working more now than I ever have,” Hitshew says. “On South Pass, we are worker bees. South Pass owns you, and you plow snow and keep things running.”
Hitshew welcomes the challenge and variety of working with maintenance crews in Fremont County.
Hitshew and his wife, Shelli, will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this November, but first things first, they’re getting to know each other again after Mike’s lifestyle of living and breathing the 24-hour, 7-days-a-week harsh and scenic atmosphere of South Pass.
“My wife drove up and down the mountain for 10 years before we moved her to town so our kids could go to daycare and school, while I continued to live a lot on the mountain,” Hitshew says.
The Hitshews’ daughter, Makenzie, lives in Boise, Idaho, while their son, Tyler, lives in Lander.
Hitshew’s office is located inside the WYDOT maintenance shop in Lander. He can be reached at (307) 332-4151, (307) 349-0053, or by email at [email protected].