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The Highway Scanner
A newsletter for and about the people of
VDOT’s Staunton District
KEEPING THE MONEY
KEEP VIRGINIA MOVING
Moving up, moving over, and moving
out – there have been all kinds of
personnel transitions in the Staunton
District’s Fiscal Department in recent
months, but nothing stops moving at
VDOT, including the money.
This is what Fiscal’s dream team
of twelve does – keeps people
and the bills paid. “They all just
take the initiative to do it, to learn
it, to make the work happen,”
Tanya Johnson says. She’s the
Financial Accounting Manager who
oversees the group made up of
accounting, payroll and business
support. Central Office in Richmond
prints the checks and makes sure
payments are made, but before
that happens… “We’re basically
the final stop,” Johnson says.
(ARTICLE CONTINUES, PAGES 2-3)
Payroll Specialists Sharon Estes and
Jeanetta Waitier work together at
the Staunton District Office complex.
Alleghany • Augusta • Bath • Clarke • Frederick
Highland • Page • Rockbridge • Rockingham • Shenandoah • Warren
Johnson’s job is also to make sure they’re hitting their prompt pay numbers, which means
paying everything on time under the terms of the contract. The goal is 100% each month,
but they must at least meet 95%. Johnson also offers support to the Residency Business
Administrators in Harrisonburg, Lexington and Edinburg which takes her and some of the
team out into the field.
One of Tanya Johnson’s favorite parts of her job is reconciliation. Just like managing
your checkbook at home, she’s making sure the numbers match. Johnson says she gets
stumped all the time. “We’re looking at these numbers for so long… why, why, why is
this not jiving?” But she says it helps to take a break, or have someone else take a look,
so together they can find the discrepancy. “Actually they [the fiscal team] laugh at me
because I’ll yell… ‘I figured it out!’” She doesn’t quit and neither does her team.
“Never ever did I think in all my years of working that I would ever be doing
payroll from an office in my house,” Sharon Estes confesses, recounting what
it was like during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ten-year VDOT veteran describes herself as old school. At the time, Estes
didn’t even have the internet at home, so she was given a router and got
busy making sure the Staunton District’s nearly 700 employees never missed a
paycheck. It’s a job she shares with Jeanetta Waitier.
Estes has also worked in accounts receivable and accounts payable, but
she’s happiest in Payroll. “Payroll is my passion,” Estes shares. For her it’s
the numbers and the people. “It’s getting the people paid and knowing that
they’re paid correctly.” It seems safe to assume that everyone wants to get
paid, but despite that assumption, getting people to submit their timesheets
correctly and on time is one of Payroll’s biggest challenges. “That is something
we have a real issue with and,” as Estes confides, “we have repeat offenders.”
Another challenge is short term disability and workers compensation. It’s a completely different system
of paying people. It requires research, special worksheets, and teaching people how to key things in.
“There’s so much work you have to do with disability claims,” Estes says. And with anywhere from 10
to 15 people on disability at all times, Estes and Waitier stay on their toes.
Plus, Estes is the final stop for approving travel expenses. When she’s not fielding phone calls for
payroll questions, she’s doing her best to answer questions about work travel. “Somebody will call
and I’ll say ‘Hold on, let me put my travel hat on.’”
ABOVE: Financial Accounting
Manager Tanya Johnson.
BELOW: The Fiscal Team during the
annual holiday party. (From left to
right) Flesher, Walker, Estes, Coffey,
Pannell, Henderson, Waitier,
Johnson and Crawford.
ABOVE: Sharon Estes
during the annual holiday
Accounting Specialist Renee Flesher describes her perfect day. “When you come in here and
everything just works. There’s no electronic issues, and you call the insurance companies and
they always answer and give you everything you need. And everybody’s already filed a claim and
we don’t have to do that for them. And there’s payments coming in that we can post. That would
be a perfect day.” Flesher is still waiting for that day. “Don’t know if that will ever happen,” she
says through laughter finding her way back to reality.
Flesher’s typical day involves sitting on hold with insurance companies for 30 to 40 minutes,
catching code and charge errors and botched invoice numbers, and resending emails in an effort
to elicit necessary responses. “There are times where I’m sending an email 3 and 4 times.
Accounting Specialists Renee Flesher
(above) and Carla Shinaberry (below).
Continued on next page
I’ve had phone calls and they’re like – ‘would you stop sending it?’ I’m like ‘no,
I’m not going to stop sending it to you.’” Flesher says they have deadlines that they
have to meet.
Accounting is the final approval for all invoices paid by the business group and Flesher
reviews them for accuracy. She also audits 25% of all Small Purchase Charge Card
transactions on a monthly basis. In addition, Accounting bills insurance companies and
motorists for guardrail hits. These tasks require the combined efforts of Accounting’s
four-person department, including supervisor Jacquie Crawford.
“I pull the police reports. Find out who I need to send it out to in our field to get the
estimates sent back to me,” Flesher says. Once she gets all the photos, she sends it
over to Carla Shinaberry, also in Accounting, who does the billing, then it goes to
newly hired Carol Quesenberry who will do collections once fully trained. “They
BELOW: Karen Walker, Kelsie Coffey, Amy Henderson
and Vicky Pannell.
follow it through to make
sure the insurance is filed
for the claim,” Flesher says.
ABOVE: Accounting Supervisor Jacquie
There are days when Flesher goes cross-eyed looking at numbers.
“We work with numbers all the time. It’s exciting to us,” she exclaims,
and she wouldn’t trade it for any other job. “I don’t know, I just
“Someone will come to me and say ‘I need this,’” Paula Johnson
laughs. “It’s not quite that simple.” Johnson is an Administrative
Office Specialist or Fiscal Tech in the Business section. She’s
talking about one of the hats she wears, buying things for people.
“You can’t just go and get something from Walmart. It has to
meet certain criteria,” Paula says.
“Especially if you’re using a credit
card. You have certain vendors that
you’re supposed to use like SWAM (Small, Women and Minority) owned businesses.”
Paula also pays bills -- a lot of bills. For example, she processes and pays the electricity for several
companies within the Staunton District. “Shenandoah Valley Electric… we have probably over
20 accounts that Staunton pays for just under that one utility company,” Paula says. Processing
just means she gathers all the necessary paperwork and approvals and puts it in a package, so
the proper documentation is there in the event of an audit.
Thankfully, Paula is one of four fiscal techs tackling the bills. Amy Henderson, Kelsie Coffey
and Vicky Pannell under the supervision of Karen Walker, also work in the Business group
handling invoices and purchase orders for all the different sections within the district. They all
cross train so they can support each other if someone is out. And just like the other sections
under Fiscal, there are a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross. “That can be challenging, but I love the
challenge,” Paula admits.
Whether it’s Payroll, Accounting or the Business Group,
following all the protocols is Fiscal’s biggest challenge and
often something people don’t understand. “We have many
deadlines we have to meet, as well as procedures that we have
to follow, so when it seems like we’re pestering people, we’re
just making sure we’re in compliance,” Tanya Johnson shares.
“We are here to support the people of VDOT in what they’re
doing.” And, keeping the people and the bills paid correctly
helps keep Virginia Moving. •
BELOW: Fiscal Tech Paula
BOTTOM LEFT: Tanya
Johnson and Jacquie Crawford.
BOTTOM RIGHT: Business
JANUARY 2023 3
SAFETY IN THE STORMS
FOCUS ON SAFETY
Winter weather brings plenty of hazards for every driver: Slick roadways, longer
stopping distances and often poor visibility. VDOT snow plow operators face all of these
challenges and more, so winter storm response requires a high level of preparation
A dump truck outfitted with an 11- or 12-foot blade takes up a lot of roadway, so VDOT
crew members have to know their surroundings and proceed slowly and cautiously.
They may occasionally need to come to a complete stop, especially on a secondary
road with an approaching motorist on one side and mailboxes or parked cars on the
Maintain three points of contact when entering or exiting a truck, and remember that
snow and ice buildup can create a fall hazard. Check the steps each time you stop to
refuel or reload, and at the end of your shift.
“When you open up the door, don’t just turn around and start climbing out of
the truck,” advises Superintendent Kevin Shifflett of Fishersville and Mint Spring
AHQs. “Look down and make sure you have good footing.”
The metal steps are among dozens of components that receive “dry run” inspections leading up to the winter season.
Inspectors have a long checklist that includes plow and spreader functions, brakes and emergency lighting. Any needed
repairs are addressed before the first snowfall, but it’s also important for operators to inspect their equipment before the
start of each shift.
Those shifts are typically 12 hours long, which can lead to fatigue when a major storm requires multiple days of plowing
and treating roads. Daytime operations sometimes come with sun glare and navigating equipment around more traffic.
Overnight work has less visibility and can go against normal sleep patterns. Shifflett advises his operators to take proper
care of themselves, no matter what time of day they work.
“They have to know their own bodies and take those breaks to rejuvenate themselves,” Shifflett says. “And when you
go home at the end of a shift, make sure you actually sleep so you come back rested. It’s not just for your safety – it’s for
everybody traveling the roadway.”
JANUARY JULY 202023
NEWS & NOTES
AN ELECTRONIC "FLARE" FOR SAFEY
Safety Service Patrol Supervisor George Kluchesky and other SSPs spend hours every
day driving the interstates within the Staunton District, looking for and responding to
incidents. It’s a potentially dangerous job, but they’re using new technology to improve
safety. “Motorists are just so distracted nowadays that any little extra that we can get
out there to make the patrollers or any workers safer is a huge bonus,” Kluchesky says.
It’s called the pi-lit system, and has been implemented across the entire SSP program in
Virginia. It includes 10 electronic flares, or pucks, that are housed on a carrying case that also
charges the flares. “It’s a very simple, user-friendly system,” Kluchesky states.
As soon as you pull a puck off the carrying case it activates, connects to a box on the
dashboard of the SSP truck, and automatically sends a message to the Waze navigation app.
“Any motorist that has Waze will be notified that we’re out there and that there’s an incident
vehicle in the area,” Kluchesky says. “And, it’s accurate within feet.”
The second purpose of the pi-lit system is to better light an incident. Kluchesky chooses the
direction of the light and the flashing pattern, then puts the pucks under cones to light them
up. “Every puck we take off the charger will automatically set itself to that first puck. And then
they will sequence themselves in a running flash pattern.”
The flares are also useful in dry or rainy conditions and fluid leaks and spills. They can take the
place of the standard chemical road flare, which isn’t best in those conditions.
Some area headquarters within the Staunton District utilize a different kind of portable LED
flare. Though not quite as sophisticated, they do help operators out with traffic control in
It’s an added layer of safety that Kluchesky says he hasn’t found the downside to yet. “It’s
amazing technology in a little box that looks kind of like a kid’s toy. I can only imagine where
they’ll take it from here or what will come next.”
The pi-lit system used
by the Safety Patrol
Service to light up
cones while responding
to incidents on
Moving Forward – Focus on Innovation
I-81 CORRIDOR IMPROVEMENT UPDATE
The I-81 Corridor Improvement Program (CIP) enters 2023 with no current
construction in the Staunton District. But that will soon change in a big way.
In April, VDOT is scheduled to finalize a design-build contract to widen I-81 in the
Staunton area. The design-build approach allows the selected contractor to begin
early phases of construction while completing the final design. Construction
work is expected to start by fall 2023 and take about four years to complete.
The roughly $172 million project adds a third lane northbound and southbound
between exit 221 (I-64 junction) and exit 225 (northern end of Route 262).
Several bridges will be widened or replaced, and the additional lanes will be
constructed toward the median in order to minimize environmental impact and
"This will be the first widening project in the Staunton District as part of the I-81 CIP," says Project Manager Scott
Alexander. "It will go a long way toward improving safety and traffic flow through a busy part of the corridor."
A second project in the Staunton area is scheduled to be advertised in June 2023, and go under construction later in
the year. The $14 million project adds an auxiliary lane to southbound I-81 between exit 221 and exit 220 (southern
end of Route 262). This will help ease congestion where I-81 and I-64 converge. The addition of a southbound
auxiliary lane requires replacement of the Route 635 (Barterbrook Road) overpass bridge. Route 635 traffic will be
detoured for 12 to 18 months during construction.
JANUARY 2023 5
NEWS & NOTES
INTRODUCING A NEW DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR
The VDOT Staunton District begins 2023 with new leadership. Todd Stevens, who has 34 years of transportation experience in
Virginia, was named District Engineer on December 5.
“I have received a lot of encouragement from my peers,” Stevens said. “The outpouring of congratulations and messages I’ve
received has been truly heartwarming.”
Stevens started his VDOT career in 1988, working in Central Office and the Fredericksburg District
through the department’s Engineer Trainee Program. He gained maintenance experience in the
Northern Virginia District and then the Staunton District as Verona Assistant Residency Engineer.
From 1998 to 2004, Stevens worked in the private sector as a construction quality control manager
and project manager. Upon his return to the VDOT Staunton District, he served for seven years as an
area construction engineer and for the past 11 years as district construction engineer (DCE). During
a portion of his time as DCE, he also supervised the district’s Location & Design and Environmental
“I know the Staunton District will continue to excel under Todd’s leadership,” said VDOT Chief
Deputy Commissioner Cathy McGhee. In making the announcement, McGhee noted Stevens'
leadership in successfully bringing construction projects to completion on time and on budget.
Stevens and his wife Suzy, a reading specialist for Albemarle County schools, have two adult children.
He holds a Civil Engineering degree from Virginia Tech, but most of his family members are alumni or fans of the University of
Virginia. “We usually manage to keep things pretty civil on game day,” he said.
Stevens will oversee the hiring of a new District Construction Engineer, and has a list of priorities for his first year on the job. They
include on-the-job safety, using technology to help improve traffic flow, and keeping projects moving from design to construction.
“But I’m not looking to turn the district upside down,” he said. “In fact, the Staunton District has proven to be routinely successful.
I just want to help build on that.”
The VDOT Edinburg Residency hosted its CVC/Safety Day on November 4 at the Winchester AHQ.
About $240 was raised for CVC through a cornhole tournament, silent auctions and donations!
VDOT employees gathered in the Staunton District auditorium on December 12 to enjoy a CVC Fall Potluck.
The event raised $367 for the Blue Ridge Area Foodbank!
NEWS & NOTES
January and February 2023
Remember to complete your online
video training for VDOT'S 2023 Safety
Excellence Award Program (SEAP)...
...AND EARN POINTS
Field Employee Training
» Field Safety
» Safety Reporting
» VDOT Fire Extinguisher Training
» Construction: Caught-in or
Office Employee Training
» Office Safety
» Safety Reporting
» VDOT Fire Extinguisher Training
» Active Shooter 2.0
Visit the VDOT-U website to get started
Sammie L. Mason Jr.
Glenn A. Floyd
Benjamin I. Derrow
Benjamin A. Crabill
Stephanie L. Reynolds
Carlos J.B. Ramirez
James A. Gilmer
Shane T. McCabe
David S. Coffey
Jonathan E. Sauer
Jerry L. Adkins
Nicholas P. Petrella
Jeanetta C. Waitier
George E. Miller III
Chad M. Anderson
Cody L. Huffman
Katelyn M. Haupt
Kirby R. Mottley III
Timothy G. Clem
Eric W. Lewis
William F. Hamblet
Benjamin U. Sine
Emmett W. Montgomery Jr.
Michael S. Fulcher
Edward D. Perry
Keith A. Heerman
Dennis E. Richie Jr.
Tony E. Wallace
James A. Strong
Need help? Have questions?
Contact Chris Testerman at 540-480-8900
or Janice Ramsey at 540-332-8934
WELCOME TO VDOT!
November and December 2022
The VDOT Area Headquarters
Equipment Instructor (AEI)
program will see big changes
The Staunton District will be looking for Operators
and Supervisors who are qualified and proficient
on maintenance equipment and want to help
their fellow employees learn and improve their
√ Help your teammates enhance their skills and
work more safely.
√ Strengthen your own experience and
Watch the Highway Scanner and Electronic
Bulletin Boards for details!
New Hires / Rehires
Ryan Spielman, Eng Tech III, Winchester
Joeseph Dahmer, TO II, Harrisonburg
Matt Bogert, TO II, Stephens City
David Callison, TO II, Staunton
Michael Roberton, TO II, Verona
Carol Quesenberry, Financial Service Spec I, Staunton
David Hartsook, Electronic Tech I, Staunton
Daniel Morgan, Eng Tech IV, Staunton
Ciara Pierce-Diehl, HR Analyst II, Staunton
Wade Hill, Eng Tech III, Harrisonburg
Danielle Morris, Eng Tech IV, Staunton
Brendan Miller, Eqp Svc Rpr Tech 1, Staunton
William Falls, TO II, Mauzy
William Ramsey, TO II, Fairfield
SEPTEMBER JANUARY 2023 2020 7
AROUND THE DISTRICT A MESSAGE FROM TODD STEVENS ...
A new year always offers a fresh start. The leadership team
of the VDOT Staunton District begins 2023 determined to
continue working with safety, focus and purpose.
Lexington Bridge Superindent Will Falls
shares with 4th and 5th grade students
at Fairfield Elementary School's career
day on November 21.
I am honored to have been chosen as your District Engineer,
and will do all I can to keep Staunton moving in the right
direction. I view this as a partnership, and in my role as DE I
want to help empower all employees to succeed in their jobs
and feel a sense of ownership in VDOT’s success.
I have spent most of my career in the Staunton District, partly
because of the people. This district is almost like a family. We
treat each other respectfully and pull in the same direction
We rally around each other and do what we can to help.
In the weeks and months to come, I will be spending time with as many of my 700 family
members as possible. Hopefully we will have some informal conversations about your
priorities and challenges, and your innovative ideas for continual improvement. I am a
big believer in empowerment. You are best qualified and equipped to do your specific job,
and as DE I simply want to clear your path.
Ray Miller (left) and Chandler Jordan
of Mount Crawford AHQ show a
painted plow decorated by students
from Wilbur Pence Middle School.
It was on display for a holiday event at
the Rockingham County Fairgrounds.
DA Award Nominations Due
Awards are for achievements that
occurred in calendar year 2022
and from July 1 to December 31.
Submit nominations to:
Coming in January: The Martin
Luther King Jr. Day of Service
This year we're supporting the
Valley Mission in Staunton
Please fill a gallon-size resealable bag
with travel-size products
*body wash *deodorant *toothbrush
Collection boxes will be placed at the
Staunton District Administration
building and at each residency
Collections deadline: January 30
The most immediate challenge is snow removal. The VDOT Staunton District entered
the 2022-23 winter season with more equipment and more emergency operators. Rarely
has there been more attention and scrutiny on our snow-removal response, but I have
full confidence in our district’s preparation, plans and experience. Motorists are in good
We must also re-commit ourselves in 2023 to a culture of safety. The Staunton District
has more new operators than it has in the past 20 years. As District Engineer, I share the
responsibility of ensuring that these team members are properly and thoroughly trained
to work safely. We also have many employees with years – even decades – of experience
on the job. Our challenge is to help them re-commit to safe work habits, and encourage
them to serve as mentors to whom others look for guidance and a positive example.
I have many more items on my “to do” list. They include leveraging technology to
improve safety in the workplace and on our roadways. Preparing the next generation of
VDOT leaders so they have the skills, knowledge and confidence to step up when their
Of course, for the past 18 years in the Staunton District Construction division, I have
worked hard to see projects through to completion. I will continue those efforts as DE,
leading a team approach that carries needed construction and maintenance projects
across the finish line.
The Staunton District is already in a great place because of your efforts over many years.
My job is to help you build on your record of excellence. Feel free to tell me how I can do
that – my door is always open.
Todd Stevens, P.E.
Staunton District Engineer
Staunton District Office of Communications
811 Commerce Road, Staunton, VA 24401-9029
© 2023 Commonwealth of Virginia