FARMINGTON — Salt sheds full: check. Sand piles ready: check. Snow plows ready: check.

Experienced public works director at the helm: check.

The town of Farmington, nestled in the foothills of the mountains of western Maine, is now ready for winter.

Leading up to winter this year, there was uncertainty as to whether the transition into a busy time of year for the town’s Public Works Department would go this smoothly. Public Works Director Denis Castonguay was set to retire Dec. 7.

But the town couldn’t find a replacement who had the balance of technical skill and management qualities needed to run a public works department effectively.

So Castonguay is going to work one more winter.

“It’s getting harder and harder in this day and age to find a candidate that has that balance,” Town Manager Richard Davis said recently. “In the old days, the position was mainly geared towards operating equipment; but now, like all jobs, it’s much more complex in terms of management and technology.”

After getting 15 applications for the position, Davis found one suitable replacement. But the candidate lived more than the required maximum 30 minutes away and couldn’t relocate.

“We’re skunked,” Davis told the selectmen in October. “We’re back to square one.”

With a dire need for someone qualified and experienced enough to navigate Farmington through winter, Davis asked Castonguay if he would postpone his retirement.

“It’s going to be very difficult to find a younger person to step into this position.” Castonguay said. “They have to gain a very good understanding of business, public relations and management.”

And while handling the business and public relations end of the job is a challenge Castonguay has enjoyed, he said that preparing for the unexpected weather Farmington has to offer is a challenge all of its own, but one he knows he can handle after 10 years in the job.

“Pushing off retirement didn’t really bother me,” Castonguay said from behind his desk at the public works garage Thursday, a gray and icy morning.

A week and a half into what was supposed to be his retirement, Castonguay still had not sent any of his crew out to plow.

“I can’t remember a winter in Farmington where it hasn’t snowed this late (into December),” he said.

Typically, public works plans for 24 snowstorms in order to prepare its crew and resources for a winter season, and preparation begins in the summer.

Castonguay, who worked in the Livermore Falls Public Works Department for 16 years before coming to Farmington, oversees a crew of eight. As the director, his expertise is needed first to make sure the roads are cleared in an organized and efficient manner.

As long as there are drivers on the road, Castonguay makes the call on when they need to be taken off in order to get some rest before going back out to plow.

Typically, he likes to switch out drivers after a 12-hour plowing shift, although the small staff size sometimes results in 16-hour shifts.

“That’s all the responsibility of a public works director,” Davis said. “He may not be in the truck pulling the levers, but he makes sure those who are are doing so safely and effectively.”

But Castonguay and his family, instead of awaiting the first snowfall, are counting down the days until April 1.

When he finally retires once winter’s over, what will he do with his time?

Castonguay doesn’t even have to think about it.

“Nothing at all.”