Feb. 5, 2020
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Two MnDOT workers killed on I-94 remembered with Memorial Highway dedication

By Anne Meyer

Photo: work crews install a sign on the side of Interstate 94. The sign says Kenneth E Sellon and Eugene B Schlotfeldt memorial highway

Last year, the Legislature named a section of I-94 from Sauk Centre to Alexandria after Kenneth Sellon and Eugene Schlotfeldt, who were killed while working for MnDOT in 1968. Family members of the fallen workers raised money to purchase two memorial signs, which were dedicated Friday, Jan. 31. Photo by Zach Whitley

As vehicles drive along Interstate 94 northwest of Sauk Centre, it’s hard to believe this four-lane stretch was once farmland.

The path of pavement was decided thanks in part to the work of Kenneth Sellon and Eugene Schlotfeldt. Both worked on MnDOT’s survey crew when the interstate expansion work began more than 50 years ago.

Sellon was the engineer in charge of the project and known for his attention to detail. Schlotfeldt, better known as “Schlotty,” was the brawn of the team and often called in to help when tasks required heavy lifting.

Sellon and Schlotfeldt were on the job Nov. 14, 1968, near the site of the future interstate when a semi-trailer struck their pick-up truck and killed the men.

Photo: an old newspaper. The main headline says two killed in fiery interstate crash

Newspapers covered the crash when it happened, and copies of those vintage editions were on display at the dedication ceremony. Photo by Anne Meyer

“I’ll never forget that day as long as I live; I never got to say goodbye” said Jerry Middelstadt, Sellon's grandson. “What I really miss is that he wasn’t around to help me in college with my calculus.”

Middelstadt was 14 years old when his grandpa died. He’s spent the last decade making sure both men’s lives are never forgotten.

Minnesota dedicated a section of I-94 from Sauk Centre to Alexandria as the “Kenneth E. Sellon and Eugene B. Schlotfeldt Memorial Highway” in 2019. Family members and friends of the fallen workers raised money to purchase two memorial signs, which were put up along I-94 in designated areas last fall.

Those signs were dedicated during a gathering Jan. 31 in St. Cloud. Members from both men's families were joined by lawmakers who authored bills to dedicate the Memorial Highway, current MnDOT staff and former co-workers.

“All of our plans changed on that horrible day,” said Beth Watson, Schlotfeldt’s daughter. “We’ve lived with this our whole lives. It really touches you to the core.”

Watson hopes drivers learn about her father’s story and use caution in work zones. She doesn’t want another family to go through what hers did.

“They are someone’s husband, someone’s dad,” Watson said. “Slow down and give some consideration to these workers.”

Since 1960, 35 MnDOT workers and 15 contractors have died while working on Minnesota highways. Their lives are remembered April 28 each year on Worker Memorial Day. A memorial, located in the lobby of the Transportation Building in St. Paul, provides visitors with a listing of those who died and other information.

Learn more about each name on the MnDOT Worker Memorial list.



Research and Innovation Office wins Golden Hard Drive

Photo of a group of research and innovation employees

Members of the Office of Research and Innovation’s Golden Hard Drive prize-winning data cleanup effort include, from left, Marcus Bekele, Katie Fleming, Waubun Smith, Beth Klemann, Katie Walker, Jason Paul, Hafiz Munir, Thomas Johnson-Kaiser, Leif Halverson, Sandy McCully, Maria DeLaundreau, Micaela Resh and Brent Rusco. Photo by Joseph Palmersheim

By Charles Stech, Office of Chief Counsel

The Research and Innovation Office is the winner of the latest email cleanup effort.

The office earned the “Golden Hard Drive” award by reducing its email by nearly 26 percent. District 8 was the district leader for reduction of email, decreasing its storage by more than 16 percent. The offices of Statewide Radio and Communications both garnered an honorable mention by reducing a combined total of more than 24 percent. More results can be found on the Records Management website.

Katie Walker, Office of Research and Innovation director, said the Golden Hard Drive would be displayed in the library to inspire not only office staff, but all employees and visitors. It didn’t take long for word to travel once Walker shared news of the victory.

“People jumped up out of their cubes and high-fived each other,” she said. “We were just elevated from a section to an office, so this really provided a great opportunity for the staff to come together and start working as a team. They really inspired each other.”

Photo: the golden hard drive award is an old computer hard drive painted gold. A brass plate underneath this hard drive says MnDOT golden hard drive for excellence in reduced electronic storage

A close-up of the Golden Hard Drive award. Photo by Joseph Palmersheim

Research and Innovation staff also took time to clean up physical spaces, Walker said, taking further the idea of making it easier to find things by having less to look through.

“It makes you more efficient and cuts down on some frustration,” she said.

In all, close to a terabyte of data was deleted throughout the agency. This was almost 5 percent of the total email server. The Office of Chief Counsel reminds employees that email is not where records or long-term information are supposed stored. 

Previous “Golden Hard Drive” winners are:

  • District 6 - spring 2019
  • Office of Transit and Active Transportation - winter 2018
  • Office of Civil Rights - spring 2018
  • Office of Environmental Stewardship - fall 2017
  • Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicles - spring 2017
  • Office of Civil Rights - fall 2016
  • Office of Communications - spring 2016

The spring shared drive cleanup will take place in May. 



ADA policy adopted, transition plan update now in progress

By Joseph Palmersheim

MnDOT adopted MMB’s Human Resources/Labor Relations Policy #1358: Americans with Disabilities – Title II on Dec. 19, 2019. 

One of the requirements of the policy is that all state agencies complete an ADA self-evaluation and develop a transition plan. MnDOT has been addressing Title II requirements since the passage of the ADA in 1990. The agency developed its ADA Transition Plan in 2009. The plan assembled the agency’s existing work and organized ways to address challenges. The plan’s first revision was completed in 2014.

MnDOT is in the process of a second update to its transition plan. The plan details how the agency is working to ensure that its facilities, services, programs and activities are accessible to all individuals.

While past transition plans focused on infrastructure corrections, the current update is using a more holistic approach to review its programs and services to ensure that its processes and program access are aligned with ADA requirements and guidelines.

“Shifting ADA compliance considerations to be earlier in the decision-making process can make for a more mindful approach, versus doing something and hoping it is ADA compliant,” said Kristie Billiar, ADA implementation coordinator.

“When you have an event, there are basics in place, like making sure you have an event in an accessible place, and having translators or making certain you are providing notice,” she said. “But the new plan is encouraging a deeper dive of how inclusive the activities are. You can do translation, but sometimes the activities themselves may not be inclusive. It’s trying to get our mindset shifted around that. It’s not about meeting the mark, but making sure people are included.”

Other examples include documents and website communications.

“When something is written,” Billiar said, “it’s taken for granted that the person receiving the information can read it without assistance technology such as a screen reader. When we do not provide documents that can be accessed by screen readers, we lose important opportunities to hear from and work with an important population.”

One of the reasons for the plan update is to increase MnDOT’s capacity and understanding of what ADA is and how MnDOT works with accessibility issues.

“It’s more than just making sure we are meeting the legal requirements, but actually improving access for people,” said Sara Dunlap, planning coordinator. “Building capacity and identifying resources is a big part of this plan update.”

A plan advisory committee, which includes representation from a variety of MnDOT staff throughout the state, met for the first time in January. These PAC members will be connecting with staff during the plan development, and the project team will be connecting with management and functional groups to encourage feedback.

“Accessibility needs to be part of what we are doing to make our work effective,” Billiar said. “None of what we do is just there for certain segments of the population. As a public entity, what we do has to be there for everyone.”

A draft plan will circulated for internal review and external public comment in the fall. Contact Kristie Billiar with any questions regarding the 2020 ADA Transition Plan.



Human Resources referral program leads to new employees

By Rich Kemp

Photo: a woman standing next to a man, who is holding a MnDOT mug

Bonnie Wohlberg, HR staffing manager, presented Thomas Nordstrom, Materials and Road Research Office, with a mug Jan. 27 as part of the employee incentive program. Photo by Rich Kemp 

MnDOT's new Human Resources referral program has led to the hiring of more than a dozen new employees.

The program, launched last May, encourages employees to introduce friends, family members and former colleagues to career opportunities at the agency.

“We are very excited that we have had 13 employee referrals that led to new employees,” said Lena Garcia, HR recruitment specialist. “It is good to see referrals coming in from all around the state.”

Employees can refer candidates by sending an email to with the subject line “Employee Referral.” They are asked to include the candidate’s name and the Job ID number being applied to.

“Once we receive the referral, if candidate contact information is provided we will contact the candidate and set up a meeting to review their resume and assist them in applying online,” Garcia said.  

Employees receive a merchandise voucher if the referred candidate is hired. Referral awards include caps, portfolios, coffee mugs, journals, pen and key sets, and beanie hats.



New eLearning available for Workers' Compensation

By Joseph Palmersheim

Workers’ Compensation has a new Work Injury eLearning available.

Participants will learn about the policy, injury reporting and returning to work after a work injury. The 45-minute eLearning closes with an assessment.

For some employees, this training could be the first time that they’ve had to consider what to do in the event of a work injury.

“Many employees have never had an injury to report, which is a great thing, but we’d like to be proactive in educating so they know what to do should an injury arise,” said Sue Kielty, workers’ compensation supervisor. “We hope to emphasize the importance of timely injury reporting, and also how and when to report injuries.”

The process for developing the class included compiling a number of trainings and focusing on the most crucial components. There were substantial amounts of review of the content by the MnDOT Workers’ Compensation staff and MnDOT training staff, Kielty said.

Going forward, workers’ compensation coordinators will send instructions to injured employees and their supervisor, requesting that both take the eLearning course.

“I hope to see that employees will be better informed about their roles and what is expected of them especially reporting work injuries when they occur,” Kielty said.

The new Work Injury eLearning is available on the MnDOT Learning Center, course number SFTY00123.



Fireside chat focuses on women in transportation

Photo: Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher speaking to a group

MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher (left) participated in a fireside chat Jan. 31 at the Central Office in St. Paul. Kristin White, CAV-X Office director, moderated the event, which was sponsored in part by Strategic Women Advancing Transportation. Photo by Rich Kemp


On the Job: District 1's Jeff Hall provides project support for Twin Ports Interchange Project

By Joseph Palmersheim

Jeff Hall has been with MnDOT for close to 30 years. He enjoys the complexities of high-profile construction projects and the documentation supporting those projects during their lifespan. The image below is linked to a larger version.

Jeff Hall says I provide overall project support for the Twin Ports Interchange project in Duluth. Im also involved with document Management, which is no small task as we (MnDOT) have a number of applications to manage documents. There are many facets to a project like this. We schedule and support public meetings and forums, with events related to our project and or transportation that might impact our project or area. Well also have internal project meetings and coordination with the many other agencies and departments that are involved with the project. I like the complexities of high-profile construction projects, and the massive amount of project documentation supporting the project during the lifespan of the structures built. We use many different filing applications to house project documents. It is very interesting and challenging to keep documents in the right silos while keeping them accessible to all of the different groups and agencies during the different phases of the project. I enjoy the variety of the work, especially the interaction with the public and with all of the different departments and  supporting agencies. This project will receive some type of support from almost every department inside of MnDOT.

Do you or a co-worker have an interesting job to share with readers? Send us your ideas, and we’ll contact you for more information. 

Recent employee profiles: 



A quick note of thanks amidst a busy winter season

By Nancy Daubenberger, deputy commissioner and chief engineer

Photo: Nancy Daubenberger

Nancy Daubenberger. Photo by Rich Kemp

As we enter the month of February, I’m reflecting on the challenging winter we have had so far and want to express a very sincere note of thanks to our maintenance staff who have been fighting snow and ice over the last three months.

Although the temperatures have been generally above average, we have certainly had plenty of snow (and worse, ice) to fight on our roads to be able to keep them clear for the traveling public. Although I have to admit that I love snow, I am so grateful for the hard work and dedication of our crews to clear it from the roadways, which means long hours for them away from their families and friends, and without much time for breaks. 

Thank you, MnDOT snow fighters and ice fighters, for all you do to allow us to be able to travel safely on Minnesota highways during the winter months! We are fortunate in Minnesota to get snow in the wintertime, and we’re very fortunate to have you to clear it from our roads.

Keep up the great work!


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