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PennDOT Honors Star of Excellence Recipients

Parul Dubey on October 1, 2020 - in News, People

Pittsburgh, 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 11, which represents Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence 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 Scott Kovach and Stephanie Zolnak from District 11 during an online ceremony.

“Our district is fortunate to have many excellent employees and the competition for this award is great. Stephanie and Scott have excelled not only in this past year but throughout their careers. They are extremely creative, productive, thoughtful team players and we are lucky to have them at the department,” said Cheryl Moon-Sirianni PennDOT District 11-0 Executive.

Stephanie D. Zolnak, P.E., Senior Civil Engineer Supervisor

Stephanie’s reputation of being a reliable “go to” person who is passionate about her work, stems from her ability to relay knowledgeable and thorough information to colleagues, contractors, and stakeholders alike. She is prone to thinking “out of the box”, including in 2019 when she suggested using portable barrier on projects to provide protection for workers during off peak traffic times, then quickly reopening travel lanes to accommodate rush hour. Once her idea is fully implemented, it is expected to make the technology more affordable and accessible for future projects statewide. Also, in 2019 she piloted a rough draft of a new flagger training module related to relocating flaggers during mobile flagging operations. She presented this material to the district’s maintenance crews and provided feedback as a web-based training module was created to be implemented state-wide in late 2020. Through all of this, Stephanie continued to thrive while short staffed during the height of construction season, leading her to efficiently delegate the remaining workload, resulting in the department saving $103,000 in costs to hire a temporary consultant to fill the vacancy.

Scott Kovach, Roadway Program Coordinator – Allegheny County

Allegheny County Roadway Program Coordinator, Scott Kovach, is known for his attention to detail, communication skills, and his ability to collaborate with multiple maintenance employees, surrounding counties and district office staff. His work in developing detailed cycle maintenance schedules, including piloting new schedule software with the Office of Performance and Operations, led to a significant cost savings for the department.  By embracing the advanced concepts for increasing production of core maintenance activities, Scott help lead the county to an estimated $68,000 in savings for seal coat operations and an increase of over 130 miles of shoulder cutting in 2019. Additionally, Scott acted in the Assistant County Maintenance Manager role while continuing to guide Allegheny County’s cycle maintenance program which included an innovative process to track major operations on a state route level. Scott is well-liked and respected in both the district and statewide levels and is always willing to pitch-in to help better Allegheny County.

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.

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