Welcome to our new series recognizing exceptional work by Alaska state employees during the pandemic. The State of Alaska has long been one of our closest and most reliable partners, helping to develop workforce housing, build and renovate domestic violence shelters, improve libraries and start from scratch a philanthropy for all of Alaska, the Pick.Click.Give program. Rasmuson Foundation President and CEO Diane Kaplan recently asked State of Alaska commissioners to highlight some of those whose efforts to adapt and respond stand out for going above and beyond, often in ways not seen by the public.

We begin with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which oversees state highways and roads, the ferry system, airports and public buildings.

DOT employees are known for stepping up in crises big and small. In last summer’s Kenai fire response, equipment operator Sean Montgomery and engineering associate Shaun Combs worked long hours with little fanfare on traffic control and detours in smoke-choked areas. During recent survey work with a drone on the Richardson Highway, engineering assistant Andrew Plumlee noticed a driver in distress and determined the problem was her vehicle’s loose lug nuts. He tightened them up and sent the thankful driver on her way.

Denise Pooler helps ferry crew members find COVID-19 testing before reporting for work. (Photos courtesy of the Department of Transportation)

During the time of coronavirus, two DOT teams are being called out. For the Alaska Marine Highway System, passenger services coordinator Denise Pooler has taken the lead in helping crew members find COVID-19 testing sites before reporting for work. “She completed tons of legwork to establish relationships with the different collection facilities throughout Alaska,” said Capt. John Falvey, general manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System. The agency noted that Pooler puts in extra time all hours of the day to assist crewmembers with meeting their testing requirements. Her work helps passengers and crew stay safe. “In short, she’s outstanding!” Capt. Falvey said.

Another example comes from Fairbanks International Airport. “As a small hub airport, our lifeline is our employees, partner airlines, and the traveling public,” the airport staff said. To keep everyone safe in the time of coronavirus, the terminal services team dramatically enhanced cleaning protocols to go above and beyond. Their advanced cleaning and sanitizing bring a needed assurance of safety to the traveling public. An 11-person team maintains both the interior and exterior of the terminal. “They can be seen often with a smile (under a mask) and cleaning materials in hand,” the airport noted. “In these uncertain times, FAI feels certain that cleanliness and the health and safety of all in the terminal is in qualified hands.”

We appreciate these unsung heroes with DOT!

The terminal services team at Fairbanks International Airport has stepped up sanitation and cleaning to keep everyone safe.