March 7, 2018
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District 3 maintenance employee discovers crash victim in below zero conditions

By Rich Kemp

Photo of Jake Tillotson.

Jake Tillotson, District 3 maintenance, stands near the area where he found a truck that left the road and rolled over. He called for help and stayed with the driver until first responders arrived. Photo by Lynette Kalsnes, AFSCME

Feb. 6 wasn’t an ordinary night for Jake Tillotson, transportation generalist at the Mora truck station in District 3. Tillotson, who patrols the highways during the night, discovered a damaged guardrail on Hwy 47 near Ogilvie around 2 a.m.

When he stopped to put out cones, he realized there was a truck out in the swamp.

“I thought it was an old accident because it looked like the truck had been there a while and I didn’t see any tracks of people walking back and forth,” said Tillotson.

The truck had rolled and landed on the driver’s side. As he approached the truck, he realized there was someone in the vehicle.

“He was wrapped in a sleeping bag and it was hard to understand what he was saying,” said Tillotson. “It was very cold. It was between 10 and 15 below zero. The truck had rolled several times and I couldn’t get the door open.”

He called dispatch and the State Patrol. He sat and talked to the driver until the Fire Department arrived. They were able to get the door open, get the driver out of his truck and off to the hospital.

Just another day for Tillotson.

“I didn’t think a lot about it,” he said. “Just one of those things you do as part of the job. I am glad he is ok.”


Annual conference connects public, private transportation advocates

Photo of Joe Jacobson, Jeff Vlaminck and Donna Koren.

The annual Minnesota Transportation Conference, held Feb. 27-March 1 in Mankato, showcased a wide variety of topics and trends relating to this year’s theme, “Connecting for a Greater Minnesota.” This annual event attracted 800 attendees from MnDOT and other public and private organizations who shared research results, innovations and ideas. Several MnDOT staff were among the featured presenters and moderators for the conference.

(above) District 6 presented its findings from a recent survey of more than 100 manufacturers to learn about their transportation needs in southeastern Minnesota. Panelists from left are Joe Jacobson, Rochester City Lines; Jeff Vlaminck, District 6 transportation engineer; and Donna Koren, Operations market research director. Photo by Anne Meyer

(below) Bill Gardner (far right), Office of Freight & Commercial Vehicle Operations director, moderated a panel of public and private experts who discussed the future of freight shipments in Minnesota. Joining Gardner, from left, are Jeff Purdy, Federal Highway Administration; Patrick Murray, Cambria; and Ron Dvorak, Duluth Cargo Connect. Photo by Kevin Gutknecht

Photo of Bill Gardner in a panel discussion at the Transportation Conference.


Commissioner Zelle announces executive order to study automated, connected vehicles

Photo of Mona Dohman and Charlie Zelle.

(above) Commissioner Charlie Zelle March 7 announces a governor's executive order that will study the opportunities that widespread adoption of automated and connected vehicles could bring to Minnesota. Department of Public Safety Mona Dohman was also a speaker at the news conference. Zelle will co-chair the advisory council the executive order establishes along with Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. (below) After the news conference, legislators and MnDOT employees took rides on the shuttle bus outside the Capitol. Jay Hietpas, middle left, in vest, is project manager of MnDOTís automated shuttle bus project. Also shown is Mike Kronzer, right, project manager. Hietpas and Kronzer work in the Office of Traffic Safety and Technology and were on hand to talk to people about the project. Photos by Sue Roe

Photo of autonomous bus.


Aeronautics office mourns loss of Janet Dirtzu

Photo of Janet Dirtzu.

Janet Dirtzu, Aeronautics office, died Feb. 25. She worked at MnDOT for more than 20 years. Photo courtesy of the Dirtzu family

Janet Dirtzu, 58, Aeronautics office administrative specialist, died Feb. 25. Dirtzu graduated from Sibley High School in West St. Paul and worked at MnDOT for more than 20 years.

Although Dirtzu worked in various capacities at MnDOT, her most recent employment was with the Aeronautics office, where she served as receptionist.

“As our receptionist, Janet was the first person to greet visitors to the Aeronautics building,” said Cassandra Isackson, Aeronautics office director. “Because Aeronautics comes first alphabetically in the phone book, our telephone number is often used by citizens wanting to talk to “transportation.” Rather than just telling citizens they had the wrong number, Janet would always go above and beyond researching county and city websites to find the appropriate local government phone numbers and contacts. Janet’s sister, Gloria, works in MnDOT’s Central Office and our thoughts and prayers are with her during this difficult time.”

Dirtzu had a deep appreciation for the North Shore, and was a lover of music, animals and most importantly her friends and family.

She is survived by her sister, Gloria; step-mother Bea; sister-in-law, Cindy; nieces, Melissa and Amber; nephews Russ and Jeff; and many other family and friends.

A celebration of life will be held Friday, March 9, at 6 p.m. at Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services, 1078 Rice St. in St. Paul, with a gathering from 4-6 p.m.

Email signatures are important part of agency's communication

By Adam Oie

Screen capture of an email signature.

Email signatures, with the proper format and branding, say a lot about who the person is and where they fit in the agency.

Email signatures are our most common form of communication and an integral part of our brand identity. They are our digital business cards handed out every time an email is sent. Consistent formatting and styling builds a stronger brand and increases the professionalism of our agency.


Your signature tells recipients who you are and how they can contact you. It should include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your position and office
  • Your telephone, fax, address
  • MnDOT Logo
  • Optional: social media links
  • Font: The State of Minnesota has selected Calibri Bold and Calibri Regular as standard fonts for employee use in Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, email signatures and other “business uses.”  
  • Color: Minnesota Blue is the official color for email signatures. This color is part of the core of our brand identity, and should appear prominently on all communication pieces. Using Minnesota Blue provides consistency and ensures that email signatures meet color contrast standards.
  • Logo: The agency logo formatted for signatures, available on iHub, has been optimized to a reduced file size and provides consistent spacing between the logo and text. The logo should not be scaled or cropped.
Avoid these common mistakes

By following these guidelines for signatures you can avoid these common mistakes:

  • No email signature or missing information: By providing a signature you are communicating to recipients who you are and what role you have at the agency, giving your emails a higher level of credibility and professionalism.
  • Long colorful stories: The state of Minnesota has an approved set of colors for use in all state branded communications pieces. Minnesota Blue should be the only color used for text in email signatures. Avoid lengthy quotes, colorful typography and distracting backgrounds that can make emails a challenge to read by individuals with low vision and other visual impairments.
  • Inconsistent branding: By working together to strengthen our shared identity as the state of Minnesota, we have the opportunity to consistently engage with citizens and communities, increase public awareness of the services we provide, and build recognition and trust with all Minnesotans.

Profiles of snowplow operators help personalize winter operations

Meet Jamie Johnson, a transportation generalist at Metro District's Camden Truck Station. He is the latest snowplow operator to be profiled on MnDOT's Facebook page as part of the agency's annual winter operations and safety communications campaign.

In addition to pushing out infographics on 511 traveler information, salt vs. sand usage, black ice, driving tips, and other information to educate the traveling public about snow and ice operations, MnDOT has also used social media to feature snowplow operators from across the state and put "a face" on the work the agency does.

Judging by the number of Likes (113), Comments (12) and Shares (33) Johnson's post received in just over 24 hours, the public appreciates the work that he and MnDOTs 1,800 other snowplow operators perform to keep Minnesota's roads safe and drivable.

To view all of the profile videos, go to MnDOTís YouTube channel.
Videos produced by Rich Kemp


Hwy 53 project receives awards from AGC

Photo of MnDOT and Kiewit staff recieving awards.

The Hwy 53 relocation project won the Build America Award in the civil construction management category and the Marvin M. Black Partnering Excellence Award Feb. 27 at the Associated General Contractors Conference in New Orleans. Receiving the awards were (from left) Craig Briggs (Kiewit), Jason Gagnon (Kiewit), Pat Huston (District 1), Andy Johnson (District 1), Jim Thomsen (Kiewit), Will White (Kiewit) and Randy Sanman (Kiewit). Photo courtesy of the AGC

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