2011-06-02 / Local & State

PennDOT Honors Star Of Excellence Recipients

Agency recognizes 28 employees across Pennsylvania

PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, P.E., today recognized 28 PennDOT employees for their outstanding performance with the Star of Excellence Award, PennDOT’s highest recognition. Two employees from PennDOT’s District 9, which represent the district office and Fulton County, were among the honorees.

“These employees are being recognized for going above and beyond what’s expected of them,” Schoch said. “Despite constant fiscal challenges and the increasing demands placed on them, they are dedicated to producing excellent results. They find efficiencies and serve as examples to their co-workers. I thank them for their service and congratulate them on this accomplishment.”

Local winner Ralph Destefano, P.E. and Thomas Strait were honored at an awards luncheon at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg.

“It’s an honor to have such outstanding employees in District 9. Both of these employees show a great amount of leadership and a great desire to make the department the best it can be while keeping the environment, cost- saving measures and the customer in mind.” stated Thomas A. Prestash, P.E., district executive for District 9-0.

Ralph J. DeStefano, P.E., senior civil engineer Manager, district office, as district bridge engineer, Ralph oversees the district’s active, successful bridge program. The district delivered 201 bridges during the Accelerated Bridge Program, the highest number statewide. Also under his leadership, the district has seen the largest structurally deficient deck area reduction in the state. DeStefano’s considerable talents make him a common request for initiatives outside of his regular duties, such as the statewide Bridge Risk Assessment initiative, operational and districtwide programs. Although time consuming and challenging, DeStefano takes on these additional tasks and often completes them on his own time to ensure bridge needs are satisfied. He receives notable recognition and respect from employees and external partners alike because of his work ethic and professionalism.

Thomas E. Strait, sewage treatment plant supervisor, in Fulton County, is responsible for many county services, including overseeing two rest areas and the Interstate 70 Welcome Center; mowing on I-70 and other areas; the county vegetation management program; and a water treatment plant. His management and safety awareness are exemplary – his rest areas and welcome center receive an “outstanding” on 95 percent of completed surveys, and he and his employees haven’t reported an accident in the four years he’s been in charge. When Strait finds wallets or cellphones at the stops, he works to find the owners and even pays out of his own pocket for postage to return the items through certified mail. Strait provides cost savings in keeping all county spraying operations in-house. He also paid with his own money to become certified to run the water treatment plant. Penn- DOT is very lucky to count Strait among its employees.

The Star of Excellence awards are presented annually to employees who represent the department’s values of service, performance and integrity. The recipients represent a variety of organizational positions, spanning from highway maintenance and driver and vehicle services workers, programming specialists, communications staff and design and engineering specialists.

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