Staunton - The Highway Scanner - January 2023

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The Highway Scanner

A newsletter for and about the people of

VDOT’s Staunton District





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.



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

love it!”


“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



Johnson and Jacquie Crawford.


Administration Supervisor

Karen Walker.

JANUARY 2023 3



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

and focus.

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.”





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

various situations.

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

the interstates.

Moving Forward – Focus on Innovation


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

right-of-way costs.

"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



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!







January and February 2023

Remember to complete your online

video training for VDOT'S 2023 Safety

Excellence Award Program (SEAP)...




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

1 Year

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

3 Years

David S. Coffey

Jonathan E. Sauer

Jerry L. Adkins

Nicholas P. Petrella

Jeanetta C. Waitier

George E. Miller III

Chad M. Anderson

5 Years

Cody L. Huffman

Katelyn M. Haupt

10 Years

Kirby R. Mottley III

Timothy G. Clem

15 Years

Eric W. Lewis

William F. Hamblet

Benjamin U. Sine

Emmett W. Montgomery Jr.

20 Years

Michael S. Fulcher

25 Years

Edward D. Perry

Keith A. Heerman

30 Years

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


November and December 2022


IN 2023!"

The VDOT Area Headquarters

Equipment Instructor (AEI)

program will see big changes

this year.

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

professional development.

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



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

February 17

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

*shampoo *conditioner

*body wash *deodorant *toothbrush

*toothpaste *socks

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

supervisors retire.

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

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