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PennDOT Honors Star of Excellence Recipients

​Montoursville, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian today recognized 29 PennDOT employees for their outstanding performance with the Star of Excellence Award, PennDOT’s highest recognition.  Two employees from PennDOT’s District 3 which represents Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, and Union counties were among the honorees.

“These employees exemplify the care and concern needed to serve the state of Pennsylvania,” Gramian said. “Each puts effective and efficient transportation services at the top of their list daily, while demonstrating a strong commitment to the agency and roughly 12 million state residents.” 

Gramian and other department executives honored winners Aaron Crist and Kim Smith during an online ceremony.

“We have a great organization filled with professionals,” Sandra Tosca, P.E., District Executive said.  “But each year there are individuals that exceed the expectations of management in the quality of work, dedication to the district, professionalism they demonstrate with internal and external customers, and providing excellent community outreach.  Aaron Crist and Kim Smith are excellent employees who always go above and beyond in the service they provide.”

Aaron Crist is the District’s Local Project Coordinator and assists local municipalities and sponsors with the department’s Reimbursement Agreement and Engineering and Construction Management Systems to facilitate project delivery, ensure they are aware of all requirements and strives to achieve the PennDOT Connects goals for project development.

Aaron is responsible for coordinating all local projects in the nine counties within District 3.  This includes: Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE), Green Light Go (GLGO), Transportation Enhancements (TE), Act 89 Multimodal, and bridge funded projects which includes retroactive as well as department managed.

Aaron is not only the local project coordinator, but also a supporter of their needs.  He has coordinated work between department projects and locals to provide the very best project for all.  The City of Sunbury received ARLE grants to replace traffic signals on a state route which was scheduled to be resurfaced.  Aaron was instrumental in coordinating project limits and funding to be sure all work was done only once and there were no funds or efforts wasted by having to tear out work that had just been completed by another.  As mentioned prior he is always willing to help sponsors understand the details of department systems and processes.

Aaron has worked with numerous local sponsors to allow use of the district open end agreements for design and inspection rather than pursue their own.  This aligns with the department goals outlined in Publication 740.  The sponsor agrees to allow the district to manage the project on their behalf and saves valuable time and effort keeping projects moving by not needing to constantly get approvals at the local level.  Many sponsors in the District 3 area are very rural and only have part-time staff which makes any contact problematic.  Aaron is also involved with the state historic bridge efforts.  Within District 3 he is coordinating the relocation of a historic bridge that is no longer serviceable for automobiles and is being relocated to a proposed trail project.  This will save hundreds of hours of cultural resource work by having this mitigation rather than scrapping the bridge entirely. 

His helpful attitude and commitment to deliver local projects is clear progress in the department’s vision: A better quality of life built on transportation excellence!

Kim Smith is the District’s Safety Press Officer (SPO), responsible for promoting traffic safety initiatives designed to educate the public about issues such as texting and driving, seat belts, impaired driving, child safety seats, aggressive driving, pedestrian safety, mature driving and work zone safety.

She approaches her assignments with an extremely positive attitude, is energetic, creative and resourceful in promoting roadway safety.  Her job duties frequently require her to work extra hours beyond normal working times (e.g., evenings and weekends).

Last year, due to a vacancy, she was called upon to serve as the District’s Community Relations Coordinator (CRC), in addition to her SPO duties.  At the same time, she had a family emergency occurring with her father.  This added to her workload and stress level.  With all her responsibilities she was still available during emergency and severe weather events to receive and provide important information to the public.  After the CRC position was filled, Kim provided training for the newly hired CRC to ensure a smooth transition of duties and public information.

In her SPO role she provides public outreach to support highway safety efforts.  She manages the District's Driver Safety Task Force, which is composed of PennDOT and non-PennDOT members (e.g., EMS, hospitals, coroner office, Highway Safety Network, and insurance providers) to develop and execute public safety initiatives such as child seat checks, bicycle rodeos, CarFit, and mature driving programs. 

Kim often receives accolades from our external partners with the services she provides and is always willing to go above and beyond her responsibilities.  She often thinks out of the box on how to communicate key safety messages to the public.   In addition, she did an excellent job getting information out concerning the job fair and open house the district held in January of 2020. 

Her team-player attitude, positive nature, and commitment to the Department and public safety make her an important asset to PennDOT and a valuable member of the PennDOT team!

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 traffic control specialists, communications staff and design and engineering specialists.

Subscribe to PennDOT news in Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties at www.penndot.gov/District3.

Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.

511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

Follow PennDOT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/511PAStateColl and like the department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaDepartmentofTransportation and Instagram at www.instagram.com/pennsylvaniadot.                                                                                          MEDIA CONTACT: Maggie Baker, 570-368-4202 or magbaker@pa.gov.

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