The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has announced the 2008 recipients of the MDOT Director's Award - the department's highest honor for outstanding service. For more than 20 years, the annual award has recognized those employees who exhibit leadership and exemplary public service.

This year's honorees work in locations as diverse as Iron Mountain and Detroit, and serve in a variety of jobs, including a soils engineer, a traffic technician, and a transportation planner.

"Each year, the Director's Award recipients represent some of the best of MDOT," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Their hard work and dedication demonstrate a real commitment to quality, teamwork, integrity, and customer service. We are proud that these dedicated public servants are a part of MDOT."

The Director's Award program represents the various work categories within the department, representing the respective job responsibilities and levels. While MDOT employees nominate their peers, committees comprised of workers from each category make the final recommendations to the department.

The 2008 Director's Award recipients (and their respective MDOT job categories) are:

  • Jason Latham (Professional, Supervisor) is the region planner for MDOT's Southwest Region. He is responsible for planning, environmental, and multi-modal activities in the Southwest Region, which serves nine counties. Several projects he has been involved with, the Benton Harbor City of Promise Program, the Harbor Shores project, the US-131 bypass at Constantine, and the region's Tribal Government efforts, have brought or will bring new jobs to southwest Michigan.
  • Randy VanPortfliet (Officials and Administrators) is the region engineer for MDOT's Superior Region, which covers 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula. Leading by example, he effectively utilizes the performance management process to set expectations for and track the accomplishments of those reporting directly to him. All Superior Region supervisors follow his example. He also has been involved in re-writing the department's specification book and he led the development of the Construction Tech Competency Program.
  • Julie VanPortfliet (Professional) oversees bituminous program and soils investigations, and is the Superior Region's authority on bituminous pavement mix designs and soils engineering. She is a well-known resource for environmental issues, especially those involving wetlands, soils, and sedimentation. She worked closely with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and others at MDOT to develop and implement MDOT's Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Program. She also has collaborated with two MDEQ divisions and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to address removing non-hazardous contaminated soil at a maintenance storage site.
  • Richard Lapalm (Technical) is a construction technician at MDOT's Taylor Transportation Service Center in Metro Region. He is responsible for overseeing the work of multiple crews that survey, inspect, and perform office work related to MDOT work on highways, bridges, and other transportation facilities. Lapalm is known for his work on the twin tied-arch bridges at the I-94/US-24 interchange. Metro Region serves four counties in southeast Michigan.
  • Kathy Reincke (Administrative Support) is an executive secretary in the Construction and Technology Division of MDOT's Highway Delivery Bureau. She provides administrative support to the construction and technology engineer and is the division's liaison with other MDOT divisions, bureaus, and the public. She was instrumental in producing a large cost savings to the department when she created a process for prioritizing the Information Technology upgrades for her division. Reincke convened a team from her division and MDOT Bureau of Finance and Administration to develop a process to track pre-qualified applications. She is a well known resource that staff turns to again and again for information and assistance.
  • Samuel Pruitt, Jr. (Skilled Crafts and Labor/Safety) serves as a crew leader in MDOT's Metro Region. He is responsible for verifying that the work of maintenance contractors conforms to MDOT specifications and applicable electrical codes. Pruitt is an electrical inspector on the Wayne County Maintenance Contract. Through his efforts, MDOT currently experiences an outage rate of less than one percent for more than 8,000 lighting units in Wayne County. This high success rate is almost unheard of in the industry.
  • Timothy Smith (Technical, Supervisor) is the traffic technician supervisor in the Metro Region responsible for coordinating the inventory and analysis of traffic control devices on state roadways in the metro Detroit area. He works on establishing and revising vehicular speed, parking, and right-of-way regulations; develops and works on special pavement marking projects and work zone activities, including traffic control preparations that were done for Super Bowl XL in Detroit.