Montoursville -- On October 12, PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian recognized 32 PennDOT employees for their outstanding performance with Star of Excellence Awards, PennDOT's highest recognition. Two employees from District 3, covering Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, and Bradford Counties were among the honorees.
PennDOT executives honored Tom Poploskie and Melissa Kiessling during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday.
“These employees represent the incredible people on the PennDOT team,” Gramian said. “With a focus on innovation, customer service, mobility and connectivity, they work tirelessly each day to provide safe and efficient transportation for Pennsylvania’s residents.”
“Tom and Melissa are two of many employees who go the extra mile,” Sandra Tosca, P.E., District Executive said. “However, Tom and Melissa have exceeded our expectations with their quality of work, customer service outreach, innovative ideas, and dedication to the district. We are proud to present them with this honor.”
Tom Poploskie is the district’s Chief of Survey and is responsible for supervising the district’s Survey Unit.
The Survey Unit is comprised of three crews that complete surveys for aerial photography flights, Right-of-Way acquisitions, and design of bridge and roadway projects.
Tom has been instrumental during flooding events by mobilizing his crews to obtain a baseline survey to assist maintenance and design staff to assess the extent of the damage and calculate costs of repair.
He was a key player working with the central office to identify a GPS collection task to scan data into a general public surveying information system that allowed all members on the survey crews to continue telework in the event of unavailable crew members.
Tom volunteers to serve on several statewide committees to assess and develop the latest surveying technologies, including ideas on how to incorporate technologies such as 3D scanners and drones into PennDOT's processes.
He works with internal and external partners as well as the public to minimize conflicts with property owners and the public impacted by roadway and bridge projects.
Tom is well respected by his peers in the district and statewide.
Melissa Kiessling serves as the district’s Plant Maintenance Materials Coordinator. In this position she assists the district’s nine county offices with procurement and inventory management by monitoring the district’s winter materials, managing the district salt reserves, and providing weekly tracking reports throughout the winter to help maintain costs.
Additionally, she analyzes contracts to ensure they meet district goals, which requires analysis of the system, policies, and the ability to forecast future needs.
Melissa is a liaison between the central office and county organizations within the district regarding procurement and inventory management. She was essential in procuring the first pipe lining maintenance contract in the district, which required a great deal of coordination with the central office, learning the new Jaggaer system, and teaching the vendor community.
According to PennDOT, Melissa is respected statewide for her knowledge in purchasing and procurement, and has served on multiple committees assessing opportunities for improvement in many different realms within the department.
Melissa creates maps in Maintenance IQ that help the district track cyclical and sectional maintenance goals, in addition to conducting training to district users from all areas.
PennDOT said that her intuitive and innovative approach to work has improved the district’s procurement and inventory management procedures.
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.