Laurie Massoni, Oxford’s Best Ambassador
By Janet Stoica
She works in the Highway Department. Her official job designation is Heavy Equipment Operator. She has given you something to appreciate and smile about as you drive through Oxford’s Main Street or are stopped at the traffic lights waiting patiently or impatiently at the Sutton Road and Main Street intersection. Laurie Massoni is her name and one of the many hats she wears as an employee of the Oxford Highway Department is that of the manager of the 31 pots and planters throughout the town.
Please don’t say you haven’t noticed. The pots are giant-sized and are positioned at Oxford’s main intersection as well as along Main Street, Sutton Avenue, Charlton Road, and other nearby thoroughfares. The flora are absolutely stunning. Beautiful arrangements and a sure point of admiration and dose of relaxation for every resident walking or driving through town. Bright pinks, whites, reds, deep green shoots and sprays. Some of the arrangements drape like colorful blankets around the urns others have fronds and sprigs that have grown high. All are totally comforting to behold.
Massoni is an artist beyond the highest level of perfection. She has an eye for elegance and beauty that most of us can only hope to aspire to. Oxford is not only blessed to have her in its employ but can also be proud that Massoni has chosen to use her talent for the town’s benefit. What other city or town in the area has an employee of similar characteristics? You would be hard-pressed to find one anywhere in the New England area who could compare to her genius.
Originally from western Massachusetts, Massoni decided to relocate to this area four years ago when she saw an ad for summer help landscaping for the town of Oxford. She was hired. When a full-time position opened up, she applied and then had six months to obtain her commercial driver’s license. The Oxford Highway Department crew took her under their wings. It was here that she became part of the Cemetery, Parks, and Recreation Dept.
“I’ve learned a lot from our town manager, Jen Callahan,” said Massoni. “She explained and taught me the details of what she felt would be attractive plantings and now I’ve learned the finer points of well-placed plantings that will last for the season.”
Maintenance, feeding, and watering are Laurie’s job but she mentioned that every department employee is available to help when necessary.
Additional responsibilities for Laurie are grass mowing at all town sport fields as well as other lawn areas around town. “There are eight of us doing the parks and recreation maintenance,” she said. “We do take care of a lot of acreage in town. I enjoy being outside and seeing the change of seasons. Many town residents stop by when they see me and the crew tending to the flowers and the compliments are many.”
It’s trial and error for choosing plants each year Laurie noted. When the drought happened last year it took a toll on the plantings and this year there was a late frost which also did some damage. “The supervisors and I order the plants in the spring. Our choices are all thriving and doing very well this year. We prune often, use good soil, and fertilize often. We buy good soil from local vendors.”
Massoni has a Class B driver’s license which allows her to drive the large dump trucks and sanders with snowplows.
“It’s fun and exciting driving these big rigs,” she said, “I feel so small in those big trucks but I learned that I could do it even though it’s a male-dominated field. A woman can definitely do this job. I take pride in doing a good job and am very proud of what our town looks like. I like that my job changes every season. For the floral fall clean-up mums, purple cabbages, and fall grasses are introduced and then for the holiday season decorations with greenery and pine. Snowplowing and sanding also take high priority. Just like any job, you learn as you go.”
“I just really enjoy the Highway Dept. crew and it’s hard not to appreciate the beautiful flowers and then to see them thrive. Our residents enjoy the planters, it’s good for them and it’s good for the businesses in town. I just do my job and enjoy it. I don’t have time for negativity. My fellow workers are awesome. It’s a lot of physical activity and we all help each other. My Park and Recreation Superintendent, Matt Benoit, as well as Steve Esposito, our DPW Director, have been a great support to me and they are good to work for,” she said.