MONTOURSVILLE - PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch recognized 30 PennDOT employees for their outstanding performance with the Star of Excellence Award, PennDOT's highest recognition. Two employees from PennDOT's District 3, which includes Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union and Bradford counties, were among the honorees.

"I am honored to present the Star of Excellence Award to our employees who embody the drive and dedication that are so vital to keeping PennDOT moving," Schoch said. "While they work in every area of the department, they have the common goal of achieving excellence and are an example for the rest of us."

Local winners Jim Williams, of Mount Carmel, and Ken Bair, of Mifflinburg, were honored at an awards luncheon at the Governor's Residence in Harrisburg.

"Ken and Jim are two outstanding employees who have brought about positive change in every area they have worked. They care about the department and strive to continuously make it a better organization," said District Executive Sandra Tosca.

Bair, district maintenance services engineer, was instrumental in analyzing the benefits of and developing an implementation plan for two district-wide seal coat crews this year, an initiative which supports the regionalization concept encouraged by PennDOT Next Generation. In the past, each county handled its own seal-coat program. With the implementation of this regional approach, we anticipate improved productivity and quality, and a significant cost-savings through reduced equipment costs. As a member of the PNG winter services team, Bair helped analyze temporary operator needs which, when implemented, are estimated to produce savings of over $1 million. Officials said Bair, who has work experience in both design and maintenance, is well respected by department staff and a role model in the district, and is an outstanding communicator and manager. He was also honored recently as the district office Employee of the Month.

Williams, Columbia/Montour County equipment manager, is a "go-to person" for other equipment managers when they have questions on equipment, policy or innovations. The district equipment manager recognizes him as dedicated and very capable in all aspects of his job. According to his supervisors, Williams believes safety is job one, and he is always open to ideas from the field or safety committee to add enhancements to facilities to make them safer. He was instrumental in developing a yard rack for spreaders, wing plows and tanks at the Columbia/Montour 01 stockpile, using guiderail parts at no cost. It made the yard safer with fewer obstacles, and made the garage staff more efficient in spreader maintenance and installation. Ever cost-conscious, Williams acquired several needed items and equipment from other counties that were sending them to auction or surplus. He also oversees the operations of the district's four Interstate 80 rest areas, with an eye always on providing excellent customer service.

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, to programming specialists, communications staff and design and engineering specialists.