This week the Governor announced the winners and honorable mentions in this year’s statewide Denali Peak Performance Awards Program. Please join me in congratulating those employees who have been recognized in the 2019 award program for their outstanding work.
Over 300 of our agency’s employees were nominated for a Denali award this year, many of whom played a huge role in the emergency response of the 2018 Anchorage earthquake.
Congratulations to the nominee’s and honorable mentions for their hard work and dedication. Thank you to all who have participated in the awards program this year and to all our dedicated DOT&PF employees.
- Office of the Commissioner, Alaska DOT&PF
Derrick is an exemplary employee in numerous regards in his position as Highway Data Manager for Southcoast Region. Not only is he an effective communicator of coordination and information with other agencies, the public, and other field regions from the Transportation Data Program, but also he additionally has a wonderful ability to connect with individuals. In our traffic data collection, we often encounter individuals who take the opportunity to express their frustrations with various government entities (sometimes DOT-related) to us. Derrick has responded intentionally and compassionately with every individual, regardless of their demeanor, taking time to hear and understand their issues while offering options or assistance to help resolve their issues. It is a rare combination to have an individual who is proficient, driven, and highly approachable but it is certainly an innate quality of Derrick. He is always pleasant, even in difficult matters or disagreements, and never is condescending, often going far out of his way to accommodate individuals even when it is clear that he is right in a matter. He certainly embodies the concept of OneDOT as he attempts to implement all participating individuals skill sets and seeks out their input in a project.
During Jeremey's seven years with the Department, he has established a well-earned reputation among his coworkers as someone who is conscientious, has a strong work ethic, maintains a positive attitude, and is always approachable and willing to assist with troubleshooting the most complex applications and systems. Nearly three years ago, he decided to forego his sheltered existence on a team of Analyst/Programmers, to accept the challenge to become one of two Oracle systems programmers responsible for all Oracle/Sun hardware, well over 60 Solaris and Linux hardware and virtual servers, 30 Oracle enterprise databases and web infrastructure, supporting the Department's 3,000+ employees as well as contractors. Over the past year, as a Systems Programmer II, Jeremey has used his experience and expertise with Internet services to make several significant improvements, upgrades and repairs to the Department's internal and public web servers and infrastructure.
Kristi Futrel is our Contracting Officer Ill and has been my supervisor for the last 3 years. During this time, I have gone to her on numerous occasions with how to help one of the departments purchase or replace a vehicle asset. Her role in overseeing the purchasing and excessing of vehicles and equipment for the Executive Branch Agencies is no small task and entails purchasing hundreds of assets worth millions of dollars each fiscal year. She continuously works to find ways to maximize the value of our budget and that of other departments. Time and again I have seen Kristi go out of her way to provide exceptional customer service to the agencies, even when funding or availability of equipment is a challenge. A recent example is a bridge repair support trailer with multiple air, electric and water systems. She completed the purchase and oversaw the design that will save the crew time and money in performing their statewide bridge inspections each year. With decreasing agency funding she continually looks for ways to assist them in meeting mission while keeping budgets flat. Kristi also works with the vendor community to insure the services they are providing the state meet the needs and reducing costs to fleet users. As a team player she is often called upon to support other sections of the fleet, taking on additional supervisor duties in the last year.
In an office of mostly computer programmers and troubleshooters, our office has historically been quieter and less interactive than most others in our building. Since Racheal has joined our team there is a greater sense of spirit. What was once only an office where we came to work is now more like a second home. On top of making our office a more enjoyable place to work, she has added efficiency and organization. She not only does her job, but she does it creatively and enthusiastically. It is precisely this character that we should want to encourage in state service, especially at DOT&PF. What has really impressed me is the personal effort she went to transforming this office. She took the time to clear out a vacant cube that was being used a storage area. In that cube she brought in a water cooler, microwave, and Keurig. She stocked the cube with snacks, making it more like a kitchen dedicated just to our office. Behind the admin desk, she also keeps a whiteboard. Sometimes it has announcements, other times it reflects her artistic skills or sense of humor. She has brought a renewed spirit to this office by holding much more frequent and regular themed social events and potlaches during break and lunch hours. This has not only brought us together as a team, but it has brought in people from other departments and offices in the building.
Sammy Loud, in her capacity as a Development Specialist in the Statewide Aviation section, working with the per- and polyflouralkyl substances (PFAS) response team, has been a model of integrity, excellent performance, positivity, passion, and dependability for her coworkers at DOT&PF and other State of Alaska departments. Sammy dove into understanding the complex issue of PFAS response with determined initiative that has allowed her to bridge the communications gap between technical science and the public. She continues to work diligently with all partners, departments, and the greater Alaskan community to help move the team forward and communicate highly complicated issues with clarity and compassion. Sammy's passion, work ethic, and integrity have inspired her PFAS response team colleagues across departments. Her colleagues receive emails from her after work hours with relevant articles, insightful questions, and community member concerns, showing Sammy's infallible work ethic. She arrives prepared, informed, organized, positive, and eager to learn. Bill O'Connell with DEC said Sammy's passion for the team's mission was the "foundation of the response efforts from DOT&PF, DEC, and DHSS."
One of the most significant crises in recent Alaskan history, the 2018 earthquake in Southcentral Alaska, shocked much of the world with its devastation in the hours following the quake. The first shocking images of the disaster that popped up on social media and news stories showed roads shattered like they were pieces of glass. The level of risk presented to our state's transportation infrastructure was monumental and the crisis team at Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) knew it. The team acted immediately and with shrewd determination to keep Alaska moving. The emergency operations center, the operations base for the crisis team, was established within 30 minutes of the earthquake. Staff across the state, in every job capacity (maintenance, construction, design, finance, communication, information technology, procurement, utilities, airport staff, etc.) jumped in to help. This spirit of cooperation didn't stop at our doors. The strong relationships DOT&PF staff have created with contractors and the larger community allowed for immediate and effective coordination with the private sector and local governments.
Sergeants Brent Lowen & Darcey Perry, Officers Robert Mullowney & Joshua Bell, Lieutenant Danny Fetters, Emergency Services Dispatcher 1: April Beene, Savannah Gagne, & Veronica Smith, Maintenance Foreman Thomas Rogers, Maintenance Equipment Operators Noah Patrick & Elmer Brown, Airport Operations: Jarod Urban
On the night of 20 October, 2018 three employees assigned to the Anchorage International Airport Airfield Maintenance Team observed a suspicious vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed on Victor taxiway towards Lake Hood. The maintenance team quickly responded to the Lake Hood Boat Launch to check on the status of the vehicle. In doing so they observed the vehicle approximately 250 feet offshore and sinking. They immediately called the Airport Police Emergency Services Dispatch center and reported the emergency. The dispatch team's lightning fast initial dispatch of critical information to Airport Police Officers resulted in a highly expedited response to the reported emergency. Airport Police arrived on scene within two minutes and the Watch Commander initiated the Incident Command System and started the coordination of additional resources to the scene through dispatch. Concurrently, officers observed a male struggling to stay above the water's surface approximately 250 feet from shore and immediately responded in Rescue Boat 1 onto Lake Hood. Despite high winds and rough water conditions, the officers skillfully deployed the Rescue Boat and pulled the hypothermic male from the frigid waters of Lake Hood within four minutes of the initial dispatch. The hypothermic male was taken to shore where paramedics provided medical aid and then completed a transport to Providence Hospital where he made a full recovery and was released later that night.
Peter Bonin - Division Operations Manager, John Clendenin - Safety Officer, Al Gilbert - Building Manager, Ana Enge - Project Assistant, Mike Dean - Facilities Services, Travis Miller - Facilities Services
Pete Bonin, John Clendenin, Al Gilbert, Ana Enge, Mike Dean, and Travis Miller demonstrated exceptional commitment to protecting public safety and infrastructure during the November 30, 2018 Anchorage Earthquake event. Shortly following the event, Pete, John, Ana, Mike and Dean traveled to Anchorage as soon as possible in order to provide critical support, leadership and expertise on recovery efforts for public facilities. Pete Bonin, Al Gilbert, and John Clendenin were heavily involved in ground level efforts for building repairs and safety issues. Ana Enge provided critical support and coordination for the Department's Incident Command Headquarters. Mike Dean and Travis Miller provided expert subject matter leadership on bullding safety assessments - engaging in actual inspections, supporting volunteer inspectors and supporting local public entitles. The effectiveness of this team's actions were instrumental in enabling effected state offices to resume safe and functional operations within three business days after the event.
Field Training Officers Dan Harmeling, Cody Fenton & Matthew Presser, Lieutenant Joe Gamache, Sergeant Dan Nowak, Officers Casey Meade, John Maddy, Zack Stone, & Dustin Schmidt, Sergeants Michael Farmer & Darcey Perry, Airport Operations John Stocker, Airfield Maintenance Josh Briggs & Jeremy Hans, Dispatchers Pat Witzleben, Tessie Morris, & Dan Stearns
On 25 October 2018, Anchorage Airport Police and Fire received a report of a missing male citizen , last seen in the area of the Lake Front Hotel, located in Spenard, on the night of 24 October A joint effort by Airport Police and Fire Officers and an APO Officer on foot, was conducted in and around Lake Hood/Spenard using Rescue Boat 1 A phone "ping" was last detected near Lake Spenard Beach Due to nightfall and the limited visibility, the search was suspended. At approximately 0940 hours on 26 October, Incident Command and search operations were established at the east side of the Lake Front Hotel. Water Rescue (search/recovery) began using Rescue Boats 1, 3, and 4, on the south end of Lake Spenard to the north side, starting from the shore line to the water in a systematic effort. The male citizen's body was located approx. 25-30yds from the northeast side of the lake, in 6-8 feet of water, at approximately 1049 hours Officers marked the body with an anchor and float ring. Dispatch began call outs to the Anchorage Police Department (original case agency) , State Medical Examiner, Chaplin and other required resources. Water recovery team members removed the body from the water and shielded it for investigative purposes, and from distraught family who had begun to gather. Airport Police established a cordon and assisted with grief stricken family and friends.
Garrett Bruesch - Data Processing Manager I, Jeremiah Walters - Microcomputer Specialist I, Ken Miller - Microcomputer/Network Technician II, Suparphon (Noi) O'neal - Microcomputer Specialist I, LeEric Marvin - Microcomputer Specialist I
After a devastating earthquake at 8:29 am on Friday, November 30, 2018, while aftershocks still shook Southcentral Alaska, the Anchorage ISSD staff put Alaskans first. They made repairs to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities communication systems vital to the delivery of all services that rely upon maritime, rail, air and surface transportation. The earthquake and countless aftershocks inflicted significant damage to Anchorage and Department and Transportation Infrastructure. Many DOT&PF buildings sustained differing degrees of structural damage, and the level of the damage was not known well into recovery efforts. Transportation routes were also damaged, and continuously changing detours added to the difficulty of recovery efforts. With damaged buildings, broken lines of communication, arrival of outside recovery personnel, and difficult transportation routes the CR ISSD team had to travel, the team set to work the following week before DOT&PF employees where allow back to work to make sure they would have their computer system up and running when the DOT&PF staff returned to work.
After a devastating earthquake at 8:29 am on Friday, November 30, 2018, while aftershocks still shook Southcentral Alaska, Garrett Bruesch put Alaskans ahead of himself and led the repairs to Department of Transportation and Public Facilities communication systems vital to the delivery of all services that rely upon maritime, rail, air and surface transportation. This nomination is in recognition of Garrett Bruesch actions late in the evening of the first day, DOT &PF stood-up emergency operations centers in the Aviation Building to coordinate response efforts, assess damage, and restore activities. Throughout the weekend Garrett Bruesch reported to DOT ISSD management about network and end-users' systems and ensured a smooth transition and set up of the emergency operations center. His initial actions enabled the department to establish and sustain recovery efforts and support recovery personnel from around the state. Garrett led his team sustaining these actions for several weeks after the earthquake· to ensure that the business of Alaskans continued uninterrupted throughout the earthquake and aftershocks. While the work required to provide effective communications is often invisible when it is present during a disaster, it is the tremendous skill and dedication on behalf of he and his Anchorage ISSD team that opened and kept opened, those lines of communication.
Jacob Hendrickson - Foreman, Eric Neumayer - Lead, Operators Michael Carney, Samuel Jennings, & Russell Sperry
"All in a day's work ... ," or so they'll tell you. The maintenance crew at the Montana Creek Station of the Steese Highway will never brag about what they do - nor will you hear them complain about being stationed along one of the most remote parts of the State Highway system. This crew of six is responsible for keeping open a 160 mile long (320 lane mile) stretch of remote highway. What's more impressive is that, due to their schedule, at any one time there are only three of the six on duty. From February 12-14 a blizzard raged along the entire 160 mile stretch of the Steese. The back half of the Yukon Quest field was caught out with one 30+ year Quest veteran calling it "the worst weather he's ever seen." The road was closed - the gates lowered, and the trail blown in; no one was travelling by vehicle or dog team... anywhere. The crew worked tirelessly during the week of February 10th. Much of this time was spent on the summits. I don't think it's a stretch to say the Yukon Quest would not be successful if it wasn't for the support of the Montana Creek DOT crew. For many Quest volunteers and spectators this is their first experience in a truly remote arctic landscape; needless to say this causes the crew to respond to numerous vehicles in distress - always doing so with professional and courteous service and a friendly attitude. Each of these interactions goes a long way to enhance the positive perception and reputation, and to grow the legend of the Steese Highway road crew.
On Jan. 3, 2019, at approximately 6:30 p.m., a seven-passenger aircraft traveling from Fairbanks to Grayling suffered an electrical failure, eliminating all communication between the plane and airport staff and the pilot's ability to use remote signaling to tum on the runway lights. Boots on the ground would need to act fast and smart to ensure the safety of everyone on that plane. DOT&PF airport manager, Erik Weingarth, one of the first to be called to action, was instrumental in making that happen. While the pilot circled in the dark above the Grayling airport, working to manually lower the landing gear, Erik pulled together the Grayling airport contractor, Harry Maillelle, who was at home and off work, and a team of locals to assist in the landing. Erik anticipated the needs of the pilot and listened to all suggestions to improve the visibility for landing. The team in Grayling began illuminating the airfield with vehicle headlights while Erik organized getting medical assistance on standby. Erik provided timely situation updates to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the Anchorage Center, and to the Grayling airport contractor. The efforts of the contractor, community, and the pilot resulted in a safe landing of the seven-passenger plane thanks to the team led by Erik.
Steven Rzepka - Engineer/Architect I, Sonya Harris - Engineering Assistant III, Zachary Kay - Engineering Assistant II, Kirk Louthan - Engineering Assistant III, Jim Amundsen, Engineer/Architect IV
The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck southcentral Alaska on November 30 caused significant damage to several roads that posed risks to the travelling public. 7 specific road segments had damage significant enough to warrant customized , rapid-response engineering solutions. While simultaneously managing a full workload of highway design work, this team enthusiastically embraced the additional challenge of developing bid-ready plans, specifications, and estimates necessary to advertise construction projects for all of the repairs mentioned above. The repair work is critical to restoring the earthquakedamaged roads to safe and serviceable conditions. For each repair project, the team simultaneously weighed complex financial and engineering considerations to independently determine whether their engineered repairs would be temporary or permanent. These determinations required exceptional coordination and communication with multiple experts, support groups, and transportation system managers. The team masterfully navigated these challenges because of their uncommon personal commitment to DOT&PF's core values of integrity, excellence and respect.
Productivity: Krista is responsible for maintaining and checking out the DOT/PF vehicles. In the winter in particular that is a challenging job. I have noticed her out in the parking lot trying to jump a vehicle because the battery is dead. This effort takes time away from her other duties as a receptionist. Problem Solving: In order to alleviate the problem of dead batteries and lack of front desk coverage Krista has opted to spend her lunch hour in a different DOT/PF vehicle each day. She takes her lunch out to the car, starts the vehicle, and spends the entire hour recharging the battery, putting the heater through its paces, and giving the engine that extra boost and lubrication. Creativity: Krista's solution to dead batteries and possible engine failure due to lack of use is not only simple but it is elegant. No one requires she spend her lunch hours in the parking lot. lt is not part of her job, but she has made it part at no extra cost to DOT/PF. Prioritize Objectives: It is vital to the work of DOT/PF to have vehicles at the ready. If it were not for Krista's dedication to her work and her problem solving acumen we might waste invaluable time waiting for one of our vehicles to be jumped or even require repair due to lack of attention. She has effectively solved a challenging and expensive problem.
Les Cope is one of our exceptional fleet Chief Engineers, regularly going above and beyond the call of duty to keep the Malaspina running well and on schedule, Les's high standards and attitude of "getting it repaired right the first time" are an example for his engine crew, when the ship is in yard status Les will regularly take on jobs that would have cost substantially more if the yards crew had done them, in summary, Les is an exceptional leader and an exceptional Chief Engineer! Les Cope has demonstrated exceptional performance in his job as lead Chief Engineer of the M/V Malaspina:
As Project Control Chief for Northern Region, Shelley Dykema and her team play an instrumental role in securing funding for a significant portion of Alaska's transportation infrastructure improvement projects. Shelley's performance is exceptional because she uses her deep institutional knowledge and outstanding skills to optimize project funding, maximize the use of outside funding partners, find innovative solutions to funding problems, use creative solutions to improve processes, openly share her knowledge with the department, and break down regional barriers to increase collaboration and productivity.
Christopher Hodgins exemplifies the attributes of leadership. He is an intelligent, articulate and driven individual who serves as an integral member of the Facilities Services team. He approaches every challenge or opportunity the same way he interacts with his coworkers- with humility and logic. During times of uncertainty leadership becomes critical to bring order to the situation and serve as a resource for effective teamwork. Chris demonstrates these attributes at all times but they were especially evident following the November 30, 2018 Anchorage earthquake event. The 7.0 earthquake struck Anchorage and the surrounding area without notice instantly replacing the daily routine with ambiguity. To organize the subsequent actions required a rapid, systematic, and focused response. Chris was the clear choice for this challenge; determining how the division would conduct facility assessments - the primary responsibility for this division. Chris devised an ingenious method to establish criteria for prioritizing facilities assessments. Utilizing the USGS website, he referenced available graphics depicting earthquake intensity areas. Applying this Information, the team could focus on developing a prioritized list of facilities based on estimated potential for damage. This logical approach formed the basis for assigning assessment teams whereby the division completed over 200 facility assessments within seven days of the earthquake contributing to the state resuming, essentially normal, operations within a limited time. This process worked so well it became a new standard for the division.
Matt is an exemplary engineer and leader. He is dedicated to his work and approaches every issue from a considered perspective. Matt also serves as a mentor, assisting and advising his team in their professional development. After the earthquake, Statewide Public Facilities staff were dismissed so that they could check on their families and the leadership group was asked to return to duty as soon as possible to coordinate the response. Matt Tanaka returned to work on Friday, November 30, and with his team, tirelessly organized SWPF's response efforts. Matt was instrumental in developing and executing the response plan. It was quickly determined that the extent of damage noted on the roadways and reported in facilities, meant that all of State facilities in the impacted area needed to be inspected to ensure the safety of Alaskans who work and visit State facilities. First level or rapid inspections were initiated on critical facilities by the facilities maintenance personnel. While the initial reports were being collected Matt assembled teams of architects and structural engineers, both contracted and volunteers, and began deploying them to inspect facilities for life safety concerns. Matt put in extra time away from his family and dedicated his considerable energy to the State's recovery. His efforts went beyond anyone's expectations. Matt worked with limited resources in the Statewide Public Facilities Incident Command center at the Annex; for the first two days he using only his State issued cell phone. He and his team coordinated with other agencies within the State to ensure that 369 public facilities were inspected in just 12 days. Matt also prioritized the building list to ensure that facilities with critical missions, such as the Pioneer Home and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, were addressed first.
Ms. Norma Lucero was voted as the WASHTO (Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) Chair for Civil Rights during their annual Civil Rights Training Symposium for the years 2017-2019. This year at the WASHTO Civil Rights Training Symposium she was again voted by WASHTO Members as the Chair for the years 2019-2021 . Ms. Lucero is a visionary leader with natural attributes that motivate others to focus on the greater purpose and get people working toward the common goals that are set forth within an organization. Ms. Lucero, as the WASHTO Civil Rights Chair, was instrumental in fostering communications with our federal partners in Washington DC. Her involvement at this level aims to assist in policy development and interpretation that impacts the nations Department of Transportation's DOT Civil Rights Programs. Ms. Lucero has gained the reputation by her peers as an individual who is committed to diversity and inclusion, helping create engagement with other national organizations such as AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials-Civil Rights Committee) and SASHTO (Southern Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials) by bridging communications and finding common goals that bind the nations programs. Norma's character mirrors Alaska's Department of Transportation and Public Facilities' (DOT&PF) core values in her leadership style; integrity, excellence and respect, which are observed in her interactions with the public, stakeholders, department employees, and federal partners.
For Stephanie Kruse's exemplary performance in coordinating emergency condition assessments of public facilities in the aftermath of a 7 .0 magnitude earthquake in Central Region. Her efforts resulted in the safety assessments of hundreds of buildings within a week of this disaster event which was the largest to hit central region since 1964. Her ability to manage multiple teams of structural engineers and architects enabled the DOT/PF to safeguard the public by very rapidly determining whether public buildings were safe to occupy. A major event like this comes without warning, and it presented a major challenge to mobilize and respond. Working behind the scenes, Stephanie rose to the challenge and selflessly got the job done. In this regard, she demonstrated what the state workforce does in service to the public.
The Anchorage International Airport is nominating Keith Day for the Innovations in Cost-Savings Award. Keith is the Alaska International Airport System comptroller and Keith's leadership both saved the system tens-of-millions of dollars and also reduced market risk to the system as a whole. Airports are subject to the fickle nature of the aviation industry - an industry known for its erratic cycles of profit and loss. During times of loss, the airports have experienced reductions in flights and these reductions had a direct impact on the jobs and economy of Alaska. The airports' airline customers can literally fly away. Realizing the risks to the State and system, Keith used some out of the box thinking and financial engineering to reduce the cost profile of the system. Keith's financial engineering provided a net savings to the system of $21 million dollars. The benefits of refinancing were apparent in 2018 when it contributed to the system's ability to reduce landing fees by 17%. Also in 2018, Keith analyzed a proposal that would that would have increased costs to airport users and identified ways to use existing funds to meet the capital improvement needs that were driving the proposal. This analysis prevented the need for the $42 million dollar refinancing proposal that would have increased the fees charged to rental car customers.
Innovative: Ryan has utilized Arc GIS online to collect various publicly available resources all in one user-friendly mapping application. In the past, in order to research a Right-of Way (ROW) one might have to visit a dozen websites to locate all the documents and information required. With this ROW Research GIS Application, DOT/PF employees and public, e.g. Real Estate Agents, Utility Companies, Surveyors, Property Owners, can easily find the resources available in one place. Leadership: Ryan has made an effort to reach out to a wider range of those who might find this tool valuable. His leadership qualities are demonstrated by the high regard in which we all hold him. He is generous with his time when his colleagues or the public need his guidance and expertise. Cost-Savings: The ROW Research GIS Map is a 'self-service' research tool available to the public. Many of the attributes of the map are not available to the public; however, in this consolidated platform the public has access to many of the tools we use at DOT/PF. The use of the map also results in cost-efficiencies for the Department: most of what we need is now co-located resulting in less time spent overlaying various sources of information. Perseverance: As soon as Ryan was able to get the prototype up and running he gave ROW Engineering a tutorial. Ryan has shared information to a number of groups and of course throughout DOT/PF. We are grateful for his perseverance in organizing this huge project. It has been and continues to be of great benefit.