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2020 Governor’s Denali Peak Performance Award

Denali Award logo

Governor Dunleavy has announced the winners and honorable mentions in the statewide 2020 Denali Peak Performance Awards Program. Please join me in congratulating the following DOT&PF employees who have been selected in this year’s awards program.

The Denali Awards program allows us a glimpse at the outstanding dedication of our colleagues who serve Alaskans every day. I’m always impressed with the consistently outstanding work for which DOT&PF employees are recognized.

Congratulations to our honorable mentions and nominees for their hard work and dedication. I also want to thank the folks who made time, in addition to their regular workloads, to nominate their co-workers for this award.

- Commissioner MacKinnon, Alaska DOT&PF


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Co-worker Recognition - Individual

Amanda True - Administrative Officer I - Facilities Services
Read Amanda's Nomination

Amanda True is hard working, both in her job and in helping others succeed in their own careers within the State. She is always willing to help others, and after 16 years of knowledge and service to the State of Alaska, she is the most deserving of this award. If there is a problem with IRIS, HRM, paperwork, computers or printers everyone comes to Amanda. She has a vast knowledge base that allows her to help and problem solve. Co‐workers ask her about topics outside of the administrative world and she either knows the answer or finds the answer. She supports the Anchorage Hub staff by completing travel requests, completing ICT’s, processing p‐card transactions and much more. Amanda has a very busy job that is made busier due to everyone knowing she is the person who you can take your questions too. She works tirelessly to get all her work done while helping others. She has a fantastic ability to prioritize her work along with helping others to ensure that time sensitive work is completed. She also has a great ability to delegate accordingly.

Productivity is essential when working for the State of Alaska, and luckily the state has employed one of the most productive people out there. Amanda True works hard to increase her efficiency and effectiveness in order to work at the highest productivity level. Amanda has many jobs that are essential in order to keep the state moving forward. Her ability to complete tasks in a timely manner, cut out needless steps and create an inclusive work environment has allowed her to be productive in her job along with helping others succeed in theirs. She is greatly valued and appreciated as a co‐worker and a teacher.

Her commitment to bettering both the Department and those that work in the State is amazing. Her hard work and long hours create more informed employees and more efficient working style. She makes time for everyone and continues to help state employees achieve the goal of a great state government.

Michelle Carlile - Field Electrician - Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Airfield Electrical Maintenance
Read Michelle's Nomination

Michelle Carlile has been an Airfield Electrician at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport for the past 10 years. Recently, she was acknowledged for the 2020 Airfield Maintenance Outstanding Performance in Safety Award for the month of February.

Michelle has a wide knowledge base of the electrical systems at the airport. She is more than happy to answer questions from co-workers and to help train them on the different electrical systems and their components. Michelle sets a great example for her co-workers with her work ethic and passion for her work, all while working the Midnight Shift.

Michelle is a kindhearted person. She is respectful and thoughtful to other employees. An example of this was when Michelle helped a co-worker during her time off to help with the details of getting their retirements in line. She found out where to go and who to see for their retirement plans. Michelle even went with them to the appointments

Rory Bryant - Engineering Assistant I - Design & Engineering Services
Read Rory's Nomination

Rory consistently exceeds the responsibilities of her job. She takes on many extra such as developing drafting manuals, project archiving, regional project transfers, engineering design standards, assisting other functional groups, and mentoring other staff. She is eager to learn and progress towards becoming a professional engineer. Her dedication and work ethic make projects successful. Her perseverance and dedication in pursuing her civil engineering degree while working full time, passing the FE Exam, and taking care of her family is impressive. She puts everything she has into what she is doing, whether it is for work, school, or her family. She ensures that everyone on her team has what they need and is always willing to go the extra mile to help out anyone in the office. She does all of this with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. She is a valuable asset to her team at DOT&PF.

Customer Service Excellence – Team

Community Winter Trails Program - HONORABLE MENTION
Team Members: April Woolery, Planner II; Judy Chapman, Planner III; Jonathan Hutchinson, Engineer Architect III; Scott Maybrier, Engineering Assistant III; Al Beck, Project Delivery Team Lead/Engineering Architect IV; Paul Karczmarczyk, Environmental Impact Analyst II; Caitlin Frye, Public Information Officer
Read the Community Winter Trails Program's Nomination

The Community Winter Trails Program is a federally-funded, Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF)-administered program that provides funding and support to rural communities to mark public winter trails. The goal of the program is to facilitate connections between rural communities, public roads or highways, and public use areas through installation of high visibility trail markers.

In 2019 the program underwent revisions to create a formal process for local governments and nonprofits to apply for winter trail marker funding. This included creating a guidebook to provide details and information about the project and "how to" instructions information on what is required to apply for funding. The team established a goal at the beginning of the process to make this program easy for customers to understand, reduce the amount of paperwork and red tape needed to participate, and keep the safety of Alaskans at the forefront.

The Community Winter Trails team was tasked with quickly creating a new program to distribute federal funds to remote communities to improve safety on remote winter trails throughout Alaska. This involved establishing the goals and limitations of the program, deciding how communities could apply for funding, establishing application criteria and informational materials, communicating clearly with the public, and processing the first round of applications. This team worked closely to make difficult decisions, turn disagreements into consensus, and create a comprehensive guidebook and application process from scratch in a period of only a few months with a focus on what would be best for the communities this program serves.

This thorough and timely effort resulted in a new grant program that will increase safety on winter trails for rural Alaskans, an application process that is accessible and easy to use, a simple procurement process, and the seeds for a future online database of all winter trails across rural Alaska that will have benefits far beyond the grant program itself. 

This team presented a positive image of state employees, demonstrated courteous service, and excelled in service by working with communities to ensure the new program created the maximum benefit for winter trail safety. The team also had exceptional performance by creating the program quickly, creating clear and useful guidance, establishing an online presence through a new website, and quickly integrating feedback from the agency and communities. The group continues to think of their customers and have the vision to create an online GIS map and database of trails with information and attribute data that might prove useful to the public.

Customer Service Excellence - Individual

Jeremey Hustman - Systems Programmer II - HONORABLE MENTION
Statewide Design and Engineering Service, OIT
Read Jeremey's Nomination

Northern Region Contracts section decided last spring that it would be beneficial to the Department to move our Highway and Aviation directory specifications to a web-based system which consultants, other regions, and all employees could access. This information was previously only accessible to Fairbanks based Northern Region DOT&PF employees. After discussions with Central Region, a BlueZoneFTP system was an option, which functions similar to a file structure on a computer. Jeremey was mentioned as one of two people who could set this up. After putting this request to him, Jeremey offered to design a searchable website that was more user friendly and more visually appealing and easily manageable for frequent file updates. 

After coordination Jeremey built a website for upload/delete of files with restricted access. Then he linked it to an external website for public access. The system for upload/delete that Jeremey created is very intuitive to use, therefore this task can be transferred easily to another person without any instructions needed. The design consultants were very appreciative of this website as it allowed them to always access the latest editions of highway and aviation specifications; and many appreciative phone calls and e-mails have already been received.   

Around the same time, a NR ADA Compliance Team was formed to tackle frequently encountered ADA issues for which there was not a definite guidance. As meetings progressed, the team developed regional guidance for several topics. Having this guidance on a website that would be linked to every consultant’s scope of services would aid the Department’s effort in consistency of design with the guidelines and expectations always available for reference. Jeremey was asked to create a site for each of these topics, in addition to an “introductory” website which would link these and two more regional resource sites from this one link. Jeremey created the website, had to rearrange and redirect the original Contracts website, and create a new upload/delete site to be made for all the NR resources sites. The way he redesigned this makes it easy for the Department to add more resource sites as needed. This was recently done when the Traffic and Safety section began posting their details on this site for easy access. 

Jeremey went above and beyond what was initially requested of him. He has provided the Contracts Section, the ADA Team, and now various additional sections of Preconstruction in Northern Region a useful tool that will improve the Department’s ability to have consistency with consultants, internal staff, and staff in other regions. Jeremy delivered and continues to provide excellent customer service in order to support this web-based resource that he took initiative to create and update as needed.

Exceptional Performance - Team

Team Haines Highway
Team Members: Greg Lockwood, P.E., Design Group Chief; Kate Kanouse, Southeast Regional Supervisor (ADFG, Habitat); Bob Trousil, P.E., Materials Engineer; Jim Scholl, Environmental Analyst
Read Team Haines Highway's Nomination

DOT&PF Southcoast Region (SC) reaches from Metlakatla to Adak. ADF&G Habitat Section (HS) manages Southeast Alaska's vast land and water resources, and diverse habitats. SC and HS partner on design and construction of transportation facilities. Their missions differ but coincide in the HS's overview statement that, "Responsible use and development of our lands and waters are important to Alaska's economy and culture". The nominees formed a consistent and persevering nucleus of a team that delivered the large, complex Haines Highway reconstruction project.

Creativity, close coordination, and focus were necessary to deliver this environmentally conscientious project. The known and newly discovered challenges encountered during project development were nearly unprecedented. The stellar project results were accomplished without affecting delivery of any other SC projects or HS services. So far HS has issued 149 Fish Habitat permits and modifications. To improve efficiency and speed project delivery HS developed a method to allow SC to batch similar permit applications effectively accelerating permit delivery.

One major area of contention are impacts to fish and related wetlands. Fill would be placed in about 22 acres of prime wetlands and fish streams impacting all five species of salmon. Proposed construction included 34 large fish passage culverts. Sport, commercial, and subsistence users of the fishery resource in the Chilkat Valley are all affected.

To move forward with required mitigation, SC formed an Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) of agencies and land managers to assist SC in developing a mitigation plan. Initially presented with 11 stream mitigation sites, the nominees guided the IDT to a downscaled 7 modified or new stream sites that would have greater propensity of success. Mr. Trousil and Ms. Kanouse worked together, and in concert with, the IDT to change 8 fish passage culverts to regular conveyance culverts for an approximate savings of $600,000. Recent fish trapping results from newly created streams are astounding. In a 24 hour period 507, 750, and 427 rearing Coho were trapped in 3 different stream mitigation sites while the project was still in construction! That translates to literally thousands more Coho migrating out to sea. Creativity was also a factor in resolving subsistence challenges.

At the base of Native cultural is the traditional subsistence use of salmon. The nominees were involved with a large number of consultations with both Federally Recognized Indian Tribes including 15 formal Government to Government consultations. In the end consensus with the Tribes was reached on the mitigation for impacts to fish and resolution to adverse impacts to historic properties.

Of note is the nominee's service is to the entire State. SC improved critical infrastructure and together SC and HS created new habitat to put more Salmonids into the sea; both are benefits to all Alaskans. The nominees performed duties tirelessly as the twists and turns of the project presented numerous challenges. Each of the nominees displayed flexibility that comes from open-mindedness, dedication to mission, professionalism, integrity, focus and in the face of it all, humor. It is a pleasure and honor to work with each of these individuals to Keep Alaska Moving.

Northern Region Engineering Geology and Drill Crew Team
Team Members: Garrett Speeter, Reg. Engineering Geologist; Kevin Maxwell, Engineering Geologist II; Jocelyn Simpson, Engineering Geologist II; Seth Hooper, Engineering Geologist II; Pete Lanigan, Driller; Matt Sousa, Driller; Gaelen Nelson, Driller; Tadd Hartford, Driller; Kimber Harnar, Intern Geology Assistant
Read NR Engineering Geology & Drill Crew Team's Nomination

The Northern Region Engineering Geology and Drill Crew Team has exceeded all reasonable expectations over the past year. This team's regular duties include performing geotechnical and foundation investigations in Northern Region. In 2019, in addition to those responsibilities, they also reached out and supported their Southcoast and Central counterparts, providing geotechnical service and expertise statewide.

From conducting geotechnical investigations in all three DOT&PF regions, to performing helicopter drill programs for Alaska DGGS and Southcoast Region's Kake Access project, to responding to Construction and M&O emergencies, all in addition to performing their regular Northern Region Preconstruction geotechnical investigation duties, this team has performed at an extremely high level of productivity, efficiency and effectiveness, while consistently striving for improvement.

Their success is due to a combination of skill sets, talents and hard work, but even more-so due to the teamwork approach they take in facing challenges and accomplishing goals. Examples of extraordinary accomplishments above and beyond geotechnical investigations for over 20 Preconstruction projects across the Northern Region in 2019 include:

Supporting Southcoast Region Materials with Drillers in Ketchikan and Yakutat, and geology and geophysics support in Skagway. Bridge abutment drilling in Kake with helicopter-mobilized equipment. Runway drilling in Adak. Mitch Miller, Southcoast Regional Engineering Geologist says: "... we sure like working with your crew."

Supporting Central Region Materials with Engineering Geologists on Ekwok and Koniganak Airport projects, and drilling on the Sterling Highway.

Providing helicopter-mobilized drilling and engineering geology support to Alaska Division of Geologic and Geophysical Survey’s ASTAR project on the North Slope.

Implementing DOT&PF’s Every Day Counts-5 Advanced Geotechnical Methods of Exploration (AGaME) commitment to FHWA by acquiring, conducting training and incorporating geophysics technology into geotechnical investigations (including SR, CR and SW Materials and NR ROW/Utility Locate staff).

The Northern Region Drill Crew routinely figures out how to get equipment to the most remote locations in the state, and then delivers. Whether towing a drill rig mounted on skis with a pair of snowmachines across frozen Norton Sound, building timber bridges to cross un-traversable drainages when travelling cross-country in a track-mounted drill rig, or living in tents on a helicopter-only drill program on the North Slope, they do whatever it takes to get the equipment where it needs to be and get the job done safely. When challenges arise, they use their problem solving skills to come up with an alternate way to get the mission accomplished.

FHWA’s Every Day Counts-5 initiative included “The AGaME”, a combination of new and innovative technologies to improve quality, increase efficiency and reduce the cost of geotechnical investigations.  The technology most relevant to DOT&PF’s needs was geophysics, in which electronic investigations of subsurface features allow “filling in the gaps” between boreholes.  While geophysics will never replace the need for drilling, it does allow for “smarter” drilling. By locating subsurface anomalies, boreholes can be placed more efficiently, and the area between the holes can be interpreted as well. This results in more efficient drilling and more thorough characterization of the subsurface-better quality geotechnical data for Designers and Contractors, and lower risks to projects.  Northern Region’s Regional Geologist embraced this technology, ram-rodded the acquisition and training of the NR staff, and cross training with SR and CR staff as well. 

The Northern Region Engineering Geology and Drill Crew Team has been noted for their high quality work and high productivity for years, but in 2019, they really went above and beyond, exceeding historic levels. By leveraging work needs in Southcoast Region during the winter, they were able to support more statewide geology needs during a time of year that has lower productivity in Northern Region. Northern Region’s performance was recognized when the decision was made to consolidate the Department’s two drilling programs. NR is happy to welcome the Statewide Foundations Engineering Geology and Drill Crew into the Northern Region Team.  

Exceptional Performance - Individual

Joy Vaughn, P.E. - Project Engineer - HONORABLE MENTION
Design & Engineering Services
Read Joy's Nomination

Joy Vaughn has been with the state for over 10 years working for the Central Region Aviation Design Section. For the past two years she has worked as a Project Engineer overseeing a team of Engineering Assistants, a Drafting Technician, and an Intern. During this time Joy has lead two major projects to be obligated in the near term while continuing to move forward several other projects expected to be obligated in upcoming years.

The first major project Joy lead was the Alaska Peninsula Highway Bridges project. She took on the task of designing this project without hesitation, even though she had minimal knowledge of highway design, after focusing on Aviation Design for the last 10 years. This project involved the widening of two bridges, replacing a third bridge with a culvert, and widening the approaching roadways, with a total project cost of $13 million. Just a few months after taking on the project her supervisor was on maternity leave and she charged forward with the project on her own. She researched and coordinated with functional groups and co-workers to ensure that she was aware of all the design criteria needed for the project. Joy left no stone unturned and brought up issues that others were not even aware of.

The second major project Joy has lead is the McGrath Airport Reconstruction & Erosion Protection project. This project started as a mill and pave rehabilitation project and morphed into a full reconstruction of all the pavement surfaces at the airport along with a major erosion protection effort with an estimate of approximately $35 million. After a full investigation into the approach surfaces at this airport it was determined that the existing taxiway designs entering the runway did not meet the FAA criteria and would need new geometry due to aircraft being in the approach surfaces. This was a complex situation at this airport with both ends of the runway having displaced thresholds. This technical aspect was missed in the previous design and planning evaluations at this airport. In addition, after extensive research into the existing aircraft fleet mix at the airport, discussions with the airport manager, and evaluating the FAA guidance it was determined that the turnaround at the south end did not meet the design criteria for the critical aircraft and aircraft were lock-wheel turning on the runway, which can destroy the runway pavement. Joy, determined to resolve this issue, worked with the Project Manager and FAA to find a taxiway turnaround solution that would meet all the criteria and solve the design problem. These are just a few examples of the major design issues that were resolved during this project, as there are too many to list here.

Joy is often found strategizing and doing thorough research with her team members to discover design issues and come up with innovative solutions, such as the ones described above. Joy is always concerned for the stakeholders, the public, and other users of the projects that she is designing and strives to ensure the project will meet the goals of the Department and the users. She brings potential problems to her supervisor's attention so that they can be resolved ahead of time to prevent delays during the critical advertising period of the projects. Her attention to detail and open communication allow issues to be recognized and resolved quickly and effectively.

Joy also looks for efficient ways to perform the design work. If she knows someone is an expert at something, she will work with that person to accomplish the task, even if that means working with the other Project Engineer to use staff from their in-house design squad. This typically hasn't been done in the past, but has proven to be successful and efficient.

Joy has great pride and dedication in her work. With both of the major projects she has worked on over the last two years, she has put in countless hours of overtime, sacrificing weekends and holidays, and time away from her family in order to make sure a quality project was delivered every time. Joy has continued to put in overtime even though she is overtime ineligible and has maxed out her allowable flex time. Joy deserves to be recognized for her extraordinary efforts on these projects and her continued productivity, problem solving skills, creativity in design solutions, and priority on achieving the goals of the Department.

Sammy Cummings - Development Specialist - Statewide Aviation
Read Sammy's Nomination

Sammy Cummings was working for the Fairbanks International Airport in October of 2017 when a critical health issue was brought to the airport's attention. The foam in airport fire trucks used to combat aircraft fires was found to be contaminating the ground water in residential drinking wells surrounding the airfield. Firefighting foam contains polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can bio-accumulate in humans and animals when consumed and has been proven to lead to many health issues if too much of the substance is ingested.  Sammy was assigned to research the issue in order to provide leadership with background and options.

It did not take long to discover that this foam had been used at many airports that the State of Alaska owns and operates across the State. Sammy accepted a new position with Statewide Aviation to develop and coordinate the PFAS effort for the entire state.  Sammy is now one of the leading experts in this field and her efforts will mitigate many health concerns here in Alaska. Sammy is a self-starter and quickly built a list of all airports that would be of concern and then started a contact list of every department, section and organization that needed to be involved.

DOT&PF Leadership has been amazed at the amount of research, coordination and work accomplished since Sammy Cummings has started this project.  Her work spans all three regions at 29 airports with many testing sites, coordinating work plans with multiple State and Federal agencies, while working from different remote locations, most feel she could be effective working from under a rock. She schedules public meetings and often speaks at different venues educating people on the dangers of PFAS and ways to mitigate consumption.  Sammy is such a wealth of knowledge with a huge heart for public service, we are always receiving good feedback about how well her efforts and communications are received. There are many Alaskan citizens that feel a high level of anxiety when discussing possible health challenges.  When Sammy is speaking to numerous audiences across the state it’s evident that public health is a high priority of hers and she is working hard to make a positive difference.  

The DOT&PF staff in each region understand her value and have stated many times that she is a one-person army.  Sammy spends a good amount of time away from home and from those she loves but understands how importance her work is to the Alaskan’s that could face health challenges due to contaminated drinking water.  Her hard work, sacrifice and service to Alaska make her a prime candidate to receive the Denali Peak Exceptional Service Award. 

Thomas Hughes - Engineering Associate - Northern Region Design & Engineering Services
Read Tom's Nomination

Tom shows up to work with a smile, good attitude, problem solving mindset and the drive to work tirelessly to get a project complete while also maintaining great work relationships. He works in Northern Region but is part of the Southcoast Region team for the Kake Access project. Construction for this project begins in summer 2020 and the project will increase recreational and subsistence opportunities on Kupreanof Island within the U.S. Forest Service Petersburg Ranger District managed lands. It is a project with multiple regions, support groups, permitting agencies, divisions, and departments and Tom's role within this project is a great example of the difference one individual can make to a team. He facilities discussions with direction, kindness, and focus and is able to achieve the project goals ahead of schedule and under budget all while networking across multiple layers of agencies and groups. Tom has worked quickly to determine an optimal route for the new roadway and has identified and addressed problems as they arose. Each time a new concern came up Tom worked to address the concerns the support groups and other departments had and worked through them as a team.

He started with DOT&PF in March 2013 and has since been an asset to any team he joins. He works long hours and weekends to complete tasks on-time and under budget. Tom’s role in the Kake Access project showcases his talents at completing tasks within a multi-region project, a job that deserves great notice. His creativity is behind his ability to align the new roadway with minimal environment impacts while still optimizing the roads for driver safety. These skills showcase his ability to deliver a great product while bringing the project to construction ahead of schedule while working together with all parties involved.

Tom exemplifies an exceptional employee by balancing relationships with above average project completion performance. He’s the employee people are excited to work. The Kake Access Project is ahead of schedule and under budget because of Tom’s efforts. He’s creative in his approaches and respectful in his delivery. Tom is an asset to the team in Northern Region, but even more-so to Alaska’s DOT&PF. 

Leadership - Individual

Carl High - Peninsula District Superintendent - HONORABLE MENTION
Maintenance & Operations
Read Carl's Nomination

Focus: During his 22 years with the Department, Mr. High has taken the motto "One DOT&PF" to heart. This attitude really comes to light when responding to emergency situations such as severe winter storms, flooding events, forest fires or damages to our infrastructure caused by earthquakes. During these stressful times, I am continually impressed with his ability to quickly assess the scope of work required, resources available, contract needs, personnel requirements and impacts to the traveling public. Response and work progression are then accomplished by reaching out to team members through a collaborative process, developing a consensus, and delegating assignments to accomplish the task. This method, that Mr. High leads, creates a sense of ownership by the entire team that I believe leads to a more productive and efficient outcome.

An example of Mr. High's focus is seen in the recent closure of the Silvertip maintenance station. The loss of the station increased the responsibilities of the Peninsula District. He responded in typical fashion by altering schedules and equipment types to handle his new responsibilities masterfully. In fact, on at least three occasions his crews were called on to assist the neighboring district when opening the Turnagain Pass with his crews from the south.

Vision: As Superintendent of the 40+ person Peninsula District, Mr. High oversees an operation with many moving parts and needs. He is very adept at prioritizing the needs of each camp and then allocating funding while keeping an eye on the cost benefit to the public. He always seems to have a long term plan with a determined end result. Whether the plan is related to equipment replacement, implementation of the salt brine program, building needs, commodity reductions, pavement preservation priorities and so on, he is able to react to available funding and provide a continuity that is ultimately beneficial to operations and "Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure."
An example from last year: the Homer Spit experienced severe erosion from a winter storm. Mr. High collaborated with the local Homer Harbor dredging contractor. Mr. High arranged the mutually beneficial arrangement of using dredging spoils as a source material to reconstruct the Homer Spit. The City of Homer obtained a cost effective means of disposing of dredging material while DOT&PF obtained free material.

Character: Many conversations started by Mr. High with staff begin with "What do you think about...". With this simple phrasing he automatically engages the listener into a collaborative discussion. Leading by consensus building, he is always open to input and insight that may ultimately change the course of action. This process ultimately inserts a level of empowerment for his team which in turn filters down through the ranks. Empowerment of employees, both individually and collectively, leads to a work environment where everyone feels part of a successful and productive organization.

Last year the Swan Lake forest fires created a very dynamic situation on Sterling Highway. Construction projects had to be closed down, local residents were put on evacuation watch and fires crisscrossed the highway. Mr. High took command of the situation, attending morning meetings at the Emergency Operations Center. He coordinated 24-hour pilot car operations to get the traveling public through the fire zone safely. Many videos of this passage were posted on social media sites.

Competency: Innovations and new technologies are areas that Mr. High is constantly searching for to improve our efficiencies, service to the public and reduce maintenance costs. Examples that come to mind, are the implementation of the salt brine program throughout the Peninsula District and procurement of tow plows to provide more efficiency and a higher level of public safety during the winter season. Salt brine has become a useful tool to provide safer roads during icing conditions while reducing the amount of salted sand used each winter. Tow plows are used to more effectively remove snow from the roadway by almost doubling the plow width of a single truck.

Luke Bowland, P.E. - Aviation Design Group Chief - Design & Engineering Services
Read Luke's Nomination

Luke Bowland has been with the State of Alaska for 10 years working in the Central Region Aviation Design Section. For the past two years he has lead the Aviation Design Section as the Group Chief overseeing Project Managers, Engineers, Engineering Assistants, Drafters, and Interns. Luke is an outstanding leader, supervisor, and an engineer.

Focus: Luke has lead the Aviation Design section to become a cohesive team working together to improve design/planning processes, updates specifications, create standards and templates, and successfully execute projects. He listens to his staff and takes suggestions for improvements and makes sure they get implemented. He is approachable and always takes time to answer questions, regardless of how busy he is. Luke ensures that issues confronting his staff are properly addressed and resolved. He makes sure everyone knows that they are an important part of the section from the Project Managers all the way down to the Interns.

Vision: Luke's vision continues to keep the section focused on the mission of our agency: "Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure." He does this by keeping on top of specification updates, supporting his staff in creating design standards and templates, attending/creating training, and even assisting with archiving past projects to ensure key as-builts and files can be found. Luke also coordinates with the other regions group chiefs for ongoing design issues and standards. The entire section relies on Luke's history, knowledge, engineering expertise, and support.

Character: Luke has been a leader in the Aviation Design Section for many years. Working his way up from a Project Engineer, to a Project Manager, and now the Group Chief. He has been successful in each of these positions. Luke is always fair to his employees and always gives an honest answer. In addition, Luke is always supportive of his staff and their ideas and he fights for all his employees regardless of their situation. For example, the time he arranged a part-time telecommute agreement for someone while on maternity leave so they didn't get so far behind on their work duties. He didn't know if it was possible, but he made every effort even after being told it would likely not be approved. Luke supported the project file archive clean-up idea and worked to get management on board for using overhead time to get the old files archived, organizing decades worth of old files and making space in the hallways. On top of that Luke used his own money to bring bagels for the "archiving crew" every week for several years. Luke always says "Thank You!" to his staff for their efforts and makes sure staff are recognized for their efforts. These are just a few the many of the examples of Luke's character that makes him a great leader.

Competency: Luke has proven himself as a competent engineer as he moved up the ranks at the DOT&PF. Luke understands complex airspace issues, noise analysis, declared distances, Airport Layout Plans, navigational aids, and specifications through his vast experience in aviation design. His current position has allowed him to obtain an understating of aviation policies, ongoing FAA issues, and Departmental budgetary constraints. Luke is the knowledge base for the Aviation Design section for a myriad of issues. This is the reason many staff go to him for questions and rely on his knowledge to help them solve problems that arise, from technical issues to human resource issues.

Luke has been my supervisor for over 6 years and I could not ask for a better leader, mentor, and supervisor. He always "has your back" so to speak, fights for his staff, and pursues staff suggestions. Luke is dedicated to the Aviation Design Section and his staff and truly deserves to be recognized for his ongoing leadership efforts and support of his staff.

Innovation in Cost-Saving - Individual

Troy Wilbur - Barrow Airport Mechanic - HONORABLE MENTION
State Equipment Fleet, Northern Region Dalton District
Read Troy's Nomination

Troy Wilbur is a mechanic in Northern Region at Barrow Airport. He has been with the State of Alaska for four years and is responsible for all of Barrow Airport's Maintenance & Operation s (M&O) equipment, as well as State court vehicles, child services vehicles, and adult probation vehicles.

Troy is dedicated to his job and enjoys the challenges that come with M&O work, often rising far and above what's required. A shining example would be in late December 2019 when Barrow Airport's Oshkosh snow blower experienced major trauma to its head unit, causing considerable damage to the business end of the machine (reels, and paddles). This unit is used often and when it isn't working it puts the airport in a difficult situation. While the airport has newer backup blowers, they run slower and are not quite as efficient. The parts that were needed to get the Oshkosh running again cost $30,000 for repair and a new head unit costs $50,000. Troy took it upon himself to utilize innovative thinking to repair the equipment and tore the unit down in a couple hours, then dug out his rosebud torch and a Porta power jack. Within the afternoon he had the hub straightened back out and ready for reinstall. The repair cost came to just his time and some consumables such as oxygen and acetylene. Troy’s remarkable abilities and knowledge saved the Barrow Airport a valuable asset. Troy went above his job title to make this repair using his expertise and skill in ways that impressed his fellow colleagues and supervisor. 

Troy has lived in Alaska for 50 years, his entire life, and comes from a long line of heavy equipment mechanics. He grew up in a heavy equipment repair shop owned by his father and has remained in the field his entire life. He is an avid outdoorsman, hunting/fishing/snow machining/cabin building fun guy. He even ran the Iron Dog Race in 2008! Troy’s lifelong knowledge of heavy equipment allows him to be self-motivated in cost-saving ideas like the example shared above. It isn’t uncommon for Troy to take it upon himself to be innovative in the shop, which is why he is the perfect person to win the cost-saving award.