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2018 Governor’s Denali Peak Performance Award

Denali Award logo

The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has some awesome employees. Forty-four have been nominated by their peers for recognition under the Governor’s Denali Peak Performance Award program.  Thank you and congratulations to each of these exceptional employees for their outstanding service and teamwork. And, thank you to their colleagues for taking the time and energy to nominate and recognize their accomplishments. - Office of the Commissioner, Alaska DOT&PF


Co-worker - Recognition

Jared Levings – Engineer/Architect I

Jared is known for his exceptional, dedicated efforts on behalf of the Bridge Management Group in areas including bridge inspections, bridge load ratings, overweight vehicle permits, bridge designs, and peer mentorship. Going beyond just technical knowledge, Jared models and teaches efficient workflow practices (such as streamlining load ratings and designs using Excel). His efficient approach to problem solving and patient teaching are assets to this department that will pay dividends for decades to come, as the people he has put effort into become capable assets in their own right. Jared serves as a model of excellence on a daily basis and is an invaluable asset to the Department. His work ethic, integrity, approachability, and willingness to make time for others set an example for all.

Linda Heck – Environmental Impact Analysis Manager I

Linda serves as an example of excellence in the Statewide Environmental Office. She has worked for DOT&PF for 29.5 years and has worked in the Design and Engineering Services since 2009. Linda has been a vital part of the Department’s efforts to assume the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) program from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This difficult assignment was given to Linda because of her determination, work ethic, attention to detail, and vast knowledge of the Department’s process. Linda’s valuable work on the Environmental Procedures Manual and her work on the NEPA Assignment Program MOU will greatly assist us in accomplishing the goals and objectives of the Department by vastly streamlining the environmental process for all our highway construction projects.

Crisis Responder Team - Recognition

Mat-Su M&O – Hatcher Pass Plowing

Galen McIver – Equipment Operator Foreman I, Matthew Plattner – Equipment Operator, Journey II & David Brumbaugh – Equipment Operator, Journey II

It was approximately 3:30pm on February 15, 2018, when the Palmer M&O Station received a call from emergency response crews requesting Hatcher Pass Road be plowed so emergency vehicles could access an injured snow machiner. At the time there was a high potential for avalanches so any response meant putting staff in potentially hazardous or life-threatening situations. The day of his incident a DOT&PF Avalanche Specialist checking on local conditions rated the avalanche danger in the area a 4 out of 5 for avalanche potential. The emergency operation to plow the road was approved by the DOT&PF Avalanche Specialist but it would require the crew to wear safety equipment so they could be found in case of another avalanche covering the road. The crew, who were closest to the operations area, immediately donned avalanche beacons and began driving to Hatcher Pass Road. Once at the road they found over a foot of snow. Not long after they began plow operations they were met by the ambulance that was taking the injured to the local hospital. Fellow snow machiners had brought the injured down to meet with the ambulance who had traveled as far as they could. After passing the ambulance the crew continued plow operations as there was still a number of emergency responders who were semi-stranded further along the road. After a few hours they were able to plow the road so that the remaining responders could get out of the area. The self-sacrificing acts of Galen, Matthew and David is worth noting.

Customer Service Excellence Team - Recognition

AASHTOWare Project Phase I Implementation – HONORABLE MENTION

Kristen Keifer – Engineer/Architect I, Ralph Kiehl – Technical Engineer/Architect I, Jennifer Wright – Engineering Associate, Thomas Hughes – Engineering Assistant III, Phil White – Engineering Assistant I, Danielle Ryder – Engineer/Architect I, Adam Marks – Research Analyst II, Phil Kvapil – Analyst/Programmer IV, Drew Nelson – Microcomputer/Network Specialist I, Shawn Staker – Analyst/Programmer IV, Christine Langley – Data Processing Manager I & Jeremy Arnold – Data Processing Manager

In late 2016, DOT&PF made a major decision to implement the AASHTOWare Project (AWP) suite of software to transition the department form paper to electronic processes that allow for data collection and measurement throughout the construction contract life cycle. The first phase of implementation consists of Preconstruction, Civil Rights & Labor, and Electronic Bidding modules. This phase has been particularly challenging given it is the initial step in a major implementation of new software. Project management requested involvement from the regions’ Contracts and Design Divisions as well as from the Information Systems and Services Division in September 2017. This team stepped forward despite hesitancy and general anxiety at the regional level regarding this major change. From the beginning, they have championed the software and are embodying the Department’s philosophy of OneDOT. This project has met its schedule, largely in part due to this team’s efforts. The team’s insistence on accuracy, attention to detail, and understanding of all pieces of the process have contributed to the success of the Phase I implementation of AWP.

Preventative Maintenance

Joe Nash – Equipment Operator, Journey I & Steve Pagh – Equipment Operator, Journey I

Steve and Joe are two service oilers at FAI and are responsible for the preventative maintenance of every piece of state owned equipment on the airport, which includes equipment from runway brooms to John Deere lawn tractors, airport operations vehicles and a fleet of Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) trucks and police cars. This amounts to approximately 250 pieces of equipment, attachments, and vehicles. Steve and Joe are exceptionally good at recognizing potential maintenance issues and reporting them so the issue can immediately be addressed by a mechanic and the problem fixed, saving FAI critical time and money. More times than not Steve and Joe correct the problem themselves and report it afterwards going above and beyond their job duties exhibiting an astonishing level of attention to detail. Not only are Steve and Joe understanding and courteous of the department’s needs they demonstrate this through their flexibility and willingness to help whenever it’s needed.

Transportation Geographic Information Section (TGIS) - WINNER

Garry Remsberg – GIS Analyst III, Kerry Kirkpatrick – Planner III, Sean Jordan – Planner III & David Oliver – Transportation Planner III

TGIS is responsible for developing and continuously improving an accessible, accurate, and controlled inventory of all public roadway features and linear coordinates in Alaska, which entails over 16,000 miles. They are the spirit of service excellence. Each of them is very careful to ensure that each data point, each route and every feature along that route is accurate and complete for the recipient of that data. When faced with a complex report such as the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) Submittal, they address what is needed as a team and work with the business unit in charge of the report to ensure the highest quality product is delivered. Performance is top notch. They rarely turn down a request, even if they are overwhelmed with multitudes of other mapping requests. On the rare occasion that they can’t fulfill a customer’s request, they will offer suggestions and even go out of their way to collaborate with others that might have a solution. Furthermore, if they get a request that’s urgent, they will willingly work extra time to complete it. You would never know it, as they don’t typically discuss their actual hours, but they are frequently on the job outside normal business hours.

TSAIA Custodial

The Anchorage International Airport is the primary gateway to Alaska for dignitaries, tourists, business representatives and State residents. The custodial staff works around the clock to ensure everything is clean and safe for the traveling public and Airport tenants. The airport is often the first and last impression visitors have of Alaska. Our custodians are extremely welcoming and friendly, greeting travelers with a smile. They often answer questions about the airport on wayfinding, services offered, and the various art exhibits available. With such diverse staff, we have the honor of being able to provide the ability to interpret for passengers, law enforcement and first responders in over 10 different languages. When the need arises, our custodians pull together to accomplish additional airport goals. They are skilled in setting up for large events on short notice. They dedicate over 100 hours a year to setting up and taking down holiday decorations allowing our airport to provide a wonderful travel experience during the stressful holiday season. Their dedication and professionalism significantly contributed to the Anchorage International Airport being rated as one of the top 10 airports by JD Powers & Associates, a global marketing information service company, in providing outstanding customer service.

Exceptional Performance - Recognition

Dan Schacher – Maintenance & Operations Superintendent

Dan Schacher is the Northern Region (NR) Fairbanks District Superintendent. This district is the most complex district in Northern Region and includes managing, coordinating, and delivering services to the public in Fairbanks and the surrounding area. Some services include snow removal, signal and roadway lighting, vegetation management, roadway surface and draining repairs, rural airport management, bridge inspections, and many others. Dan is an innovative thinker with a strong drive for constant improvement both in himself and his staff. Dan always has an open mind and looks for opportunities to improve service delivery through new technologies or more efficient processes. Dan’s day to day decision making and attention to his duties is superb. Dan always takes into account crew safety, state policies and procedures, public needs, and fiscal responsibilities when making operational decisions. Dan is an industry leader in maintenance and operations and is a Member of American Public Works Association (APWA). He has also traveled overseas to give presentations on winter maintenance practices. This has been a great opportunity for Dan and for the Department to keep Alaska in touch with what other states and countries are doing to better deliver winter operations.

Danette Berkovitz – Administrative Assistant III

Danette is an absolutely outstanding member of DOT&PF. At a time when Facilities Services is working with historically low overhead, a reduction in administrative staff, and unusually high turnover of experiences positions, Danette continues to excel at delivering the team’s administrative mission. Each financial decision is taken on mindfully, with the responsibility of managing state taxpayer funds close at hand. Danette is committed to making-do with what we have. When a new problem presents itself, Danette takes it on with enthusiasm and a curiosity toward the best possible solution. She is willing to discuss the background on a particular issue, researches policy and guidance from the employee intranet and her own reference files, and genuinely works to find an answer. Danette cares to understand why we have certain procedures, recognizes areas of duplicate effort, and has her own ideas on how we could improve. When relevant and useful, she is willing to share these ideas to help the organization grow.

Phil Kvapil – Analyst/Programmer IV

Phil is held in high esteem and his skills are widely sought after by everyone needing a programmer/analyst within the department. Phil’s proactive, can-do philosophy has contributed not only to the success of the AASHTOWare Project implementation, but to the ability of the project to meet its schedule. Phil has been able to save time and resources for the project by directly displaying information on the Department’s procurement website for the Bid Calendar and the AWP Vendor List Check rather than needing to create separate reports for three regions and statewide for each (eight reports). Phil’s knowledge and experience has allowed the project to transition from the original plan to set up several difficult interfaces with other systems, to instead use simple secure ftp for data transfer. Phil consistently prioritizes daily needs on his own, managing his schedule without the need for any direction. If a task requires the skills of another person, Phil independently coordinates with individuals to ensure the task is completed by an expert in the appropriate area. Phil is an essential part of the project implementation, and it could not have succeeded without him.

Exceptional Performance Team - Recognition

Hanley & Sgt. Perry

Todd Hanley – Maintenance & Operations Specialist & Sergeant Darcey Perry – Airport Police & Fire Officer III

Todd Hanley and Sergeant Darcey Perry developed the Aircraft Familiarization Video for Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting (ARFF) Personnel as a highly focused training tool aimed at honing the life and property saving actions of the men and women who serve as first responders at our airports. They also produced a separate video for each aircraft with interactive instructional contact involving not only the aircraft, but also ARFF personnel and aircraft flight crew. The videos were sent throughout the state and the series is now supplemental training for 25 Alaska airports and was adopted into the training program of an Alaska regional airline. These aircraft familiarization videos provide a higher level of knowledge and situational awareness to first responders. They have been described by our firefighters as being extremely helpful and excellently produced. For under $10,000, the ADOT&PF was able to produce, edit and print DVDs that have been distributed to all 25 certified airports in the state, as well as post on the web for widespread access. 

Mat-Su M&O on Glenn Highway

John Thorn – Equipment Operator, Journey II & Mark Hildreth – Equipment Operator, Journey II

John and Mark, both Equipment Operators for the Central Region Matanuska-Susitna Maintenance & Operations District, provided exceptional public assistance to a stranded couple in a motorhome. It should be noted that DOT&PF management would never have been made aware of John and Mark’s act of kindness except that the department later received a letter from the couple discussing their ordeal and thanking the department for the actions of these two employees.  In July 2017, John and Mark were working on the Glenn Highway between Cascade and Palmer M&O Stations when they came across an out-of-state and broken-down motorhome. The fuel filter on the motorhome had apparently cracked and the couple driving were unable to get cell phone reception to call for help. The situation was also made dangerous because other vehicles on the highway were having to significantly slowdown in order to negotiate around the motorhome. John and Mark came upon the situation approximately 15 minutes after the breakdown occurred and were able to tow the motorhome off the highway and into a safe pullout. With an understanding of what was broken, John and Mark drove one of the drivers to a location where they could make cell phone calls for help. They drove the individual back before proceeding with the remainder of their workday. When John and Mark got off work later that day, they understood help had not arrived so they purchased a fuel filter using their own money, drove all the way back to the motorhome in their own vehicle, then fixed the problem. According to the letter DOT&PF received neither Mark or John would accept a dime for their efforts, personal time, or what they spent on the fuel filter.

Central Region Aviation Design – Runway 15/33 Rehabilitation Project - WINNER

Jenelle Brinkman, P.E. – Engineer/Architect I, Terry Canfield – Engineering Assistant III, Mark Riley – Engineering Assistant II, Amanda Del Frate – Engineering Assistant II, Rory Bryant – Drafting Technician III, Cheryl Courtright – College Intern, & Bijay Tamang – Engineer/Architect I

The Ted Steven’s Anchorage International Airport (ANC) Runway 15/33 Rehabilitation project design was initiated in June of 2015 and has been a high priority project for both ANC and Central Region. The project team nominated has not changed for their monumental efforts over the past three years. The project total funding is estimated between $80M and $90M, making it the largest in-house design project completed by ADOT&PF. Design costs for Central Region Aviation Design Projects between 2011 and 2017 completed by in-house have averaged 6.3% of the total project cost. Consultant design projects during the same period averaged 10.7% of the total project cost. The Runway 15/33 Rehabilitation Project Team will complete the design using only 2.6% of the estimated project cost. The team is less than half the typical in-house design percentage and less than a quarter of the cost that could be expected if designed by a consultant. Based on the total estimated project cost and the average design cost percentages, the design cost is $3.25M below the average for in-house design projects and $7.1M below the average based on the size of the project but this should be viewed as significant cost savings. Reducing the percentage of the federal dollars allocated for design equates to more federal dollars purchasing pavement, lighting, and other infrastructure used by the traveling public. The team also made design adjustments to maximize runway lengths available to air carriers for each construction phase by establishing declared distances to make the most efficient use of runway pavement. The project team worked together closely, checking each other’s designs to ensure quality control, maintain consistency, provide cross-training opportunities, and leverage expertise. Deliver of this project on schedule has avoided more extensive pavement repairs which would have extended the duration of construction, impacting aircraft operations and extending noise impacts during construction. The project developed by this team will maintain this critical transportation infrastructure, bring the facility up to current FAA standards, and increase aircraft operational efficiency.


Rashaud Joseph – Civil Rights Programs & Compliance Specialist I, Norma Lucero - Civil Rights Programs & Compliance Specialist II, Matt deLaBruere - Civil Rights Programs & Compliance Specialist I, Justin Lobdell – College Intern

The Civil Rights Office ADA team displayed excellent work in the development of an interactive ADA live map. The ADA live map is used by Alaska pedestrians to aid them in finding out which curb ramps and facilities are accessible for people with disabilities. The team also created an ADA stakeholders committee of public and entities representing individuals with disabilities. We have received many favorable comments from numerous DOT employees from different divisions, and several airport personnel. . The team approach they used to develop this very valuable live map and create the stakeholders committee. They do exceptional work and have accomplished many projects together.

Leadership - Recognition

Angie Spear – Division Operations Manager

Within one day of receiving results that FAI had concentrations of PFAS on airport property, Spear obtained an emergency procurement to contract environmental consulting firm, Shannon & Wilson, Inc., (S&W) FAI’s first objective. Spear simultaneously lead the efforts to establish a water service to immediately start providing clean drinking water to properties adjacent to the airport, FAI’s second objective. Spear also wanted to ensure the public was well informed, FAI’s third objective. She begin coordinating public outreach and after the initial press release, several residents contacted S&W and they began sampling three days prior to the initial start date. Within 10 days of S&W sampling, 33 samples were collected, one-quarter of the wells originally estimated. Spear’s quick response prevented affected properties from consuming potentially contaminated water.  She reached out to the Director of Communications to assist and get approvals and contacts needed. Spear’s quick thinking and problem solving allowed FAI to enter into contracts with S&W and Spring Alaska. Spear has exhibited prodigious leadership skills by being engaged, she listened to concerns understanding the incredible significance of the PFAS contamination. She personally called all 60 exceedances providing them with her personal contact information for them to contact her any time with questions even outside of normal working hours. Speak is looked upon by FAI employees, upper management and the airlines. Airlines praise Spear regarding her “utmost professionalism” and “ability to jump into this project and take command” to ensure a safer environment for the future. She demonstrated superior prioritization skills based on importance and sensitivity in a fast paced, evolving environment.

Larry Dunivin – Accounting Technician IV

During the time I have spent with DOT in Finance, Larry has shown his commitment and a passion towards the team by investing his time is us and building our knowledge and understanding of the job we are tasked with doing, this making our daily work and easier task to accomplish. Larry inspires the team to complete high quality work on a consistent basis by holding us to a very high level of expectation and being able to communicate the areas we are doing well and the areas we need to improve. The best qualities of a leader are honestly, integrity, and accountability and Larry hits those qualities on the head. Having a supervisor that communicates, spends one on one time teaching the team and gives us a clear view of our objective on a daily basis makes coming to work more enjoyable and fulfilling by the end of the day.

Jenelle Brinkman, P. E. – Engineer/Architect I - WINNER

Jenelle is a lead design engineer of the most capable in-house aviation design in Central Region. She has groomed her team to be well organized, cohesive, capable and creative.  She works constantly to increase her knowledge and skills and those of her subordinates so when needed they are prepared to meet new challenges and successfully accomplish even the most demanding tasks. She willingly helps others even when her schedule is full. Jenelle joined efforts to rewrite the Aviation Preconstruction manual for all of aviation. Her vision and implementation regularly saves the State of Alaska time and money by providing research material to the engineers that is readily accessible and easy to navigate. She oversaw the recent transfer of hundreds of airport as-built record drawings to Southcoast Region. Her work ethic, knowledge, and character are exemplary and inspires everyone to produce to the highest standards and to help each other to do the same. She has become a center of knowledge and communications for aviation design and is a valuable asset to DOT&PF. She is dedicated to DOT’s mission to “Keep Alaska Moving”.