Dakota Transporter
Volume 19, Issue 2Winter 2008

2007 Dakota Transit Association Awards

Driver of the Year

The Dakota Transit Association Driver of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding driver from each member state whose service has enhanced the quality of public transportation in his or her community. To qualify, nominees must have an excellent driving record and display a positive image for public transit.

Picture of the Driver of the YearStan Knox of River Cities Public Transit (RCPT) in Pierre has been named the 2007 South Dakota Driver of the Year. According to the nomination letter, Knox is "someone who every day shows in many ways his dedication, compassion and patience to his passengers and fellow employees. He is careful and thoughtful when dealing with all passengers, young and old alike. The passengers all like him, and quite often compliment his driving and his courteous, friendly nature. Stan is always willing to pitch in and work holidays, weekends, and many other odd times when we need him." Stan is also very respectful and encouraging to his fellow workers, especially with his cheerful attitude. River Cities Public Transit relies on Stan many times when the going gets tough.

Picture of Joe Berger and Midge KuntzJoe Berger of Elder Care in Dickinson was the recipient of the 2007 North Dakota Driver of the Year Award. As stated in Berger's nomination, "Safety is a priority for Joe. His career background prior to public transit taught him the importance of safety measures in the workplace, and he reinforces those practices at Elder Care. Joe's coworkers depend on him for the knowledge he's acquired over the years, and Elder Care is lucky to have him on its staff. Joe is professional, compassionate and dedicated to serving others." Berger is a certified Passenger Service and Safety (PASS) trainer and serves on the Dakota Transit Association Board of Directors.

In accepting the award on behalf of her colleagues at Prairie Hills Transit, Cline said, "It was a great honor to accept this award. This is something that you don't win by yourself. It's because of my many dedicated staff at Prairie Hills Transit who serve many people in a service area that's so big. I strive to be a reflection of the people we serve; to remember that Prairie Hills makes a difference in people's lives every day. The basics are to use good judgment, and to maintain high standards for myself and for the people on my team. I continue to challenge, empower and inspire the people who work with me. Be ethical, but most importantly be a reflection of the people you work with and allow them to be a reflection of you."

Innovative Agency

The Innovative Agency of the Year Award recognizes a transit project that has overcome a major obstacle, barrier, or stumbling block; initiated a new or improved service; innovated a coordination program; improved or expanded service and funding revenue or source; implemented a new technology or expansion; conducted an innovative training program or activity; and displays a degree of professionalism above average which is exemplified by excellent public relations, increased ridership and setting an example for others to follow.

Picture of Vermillion Public TransitVermillion Public Transit was named the 2007 South Dakota Innovative Agency of the Year. The nomination listed many accomplishments Vermillion Public Transit has achieved in the 10 years since the agency began as a shared system between the Senior Center and South East South Dakota Activity Center (SESDAC). Highlights include: the new transit agency has increased its hours of public transit service by 25 hours per week; increased its ridership by 480 rides per week; began providing rides for the Safe Ride program (and contributed to a 40% decrease in DUI arrests since the service began); and became a ticket agent for Jefferson Lines, which has provided a more convenient pick-up and drop-off location for bus line passengers.

Picture of Standing Rock Public TransportationStanding Rock Public Transportation, a program of Sitting Bull College, was named the 2007 North Dakota Innovative Agency of the Year. Standing Rock Public Transportation was nominated for its development and implementation of the North - South Shuttle, which provides a significantly more direct and expedient route for travelers between the cities of Bismarck and Rapid City, and also provides transportation for mid- Dakota residents between cities along its route. In order to implement the new route, Standing Rock Public Transportation coordinated with three transit programs and two government agencies in two states; developed the route, schedule and training for its drivers and dispatchers; created public and community awareness through a media event at the shuttle's first arrival in Bismarck; and encouraged ongoing increases in ridership through continued media follow-up.

Friend of Transit

The Friend of Transit Award recognizes a member of the community from each member state whose dedication has enhanced the quality of public transportation in his or her community. To qualify, nominees cannot be employed or paid by a transit agency; may be an individual, agency or organization; and must have done an outstanding job supporting transit in the community or state by promoting coordination, cooperation or assisting with raising local financial share or transit awareness.

Picture of Joe Falkenburg and Barb ClineFall River County Commissioner Joe Falkenburg was named the 2007 South Dakota Friend of Transit. Falkenburg was cited for going to bat for the local community of Edgemont to assure its fair share of county funds for transit service. The nomination read, "Joe's commitment to transit was apparent when he attended meetings to set up the new system in Edgemont. For him it wasn't because he was an elected official-it was because he truly believed that public transportation was essential to keeping the Edgemont community thriving and growing."

Picture of David Sprynczynatyk receiving awardNorth Dakota Adjutant General, Major General David Sprynczynatyk, was selected as the 2007 North Dakota Friend of Transit. He was chosen for his support of public transit while serving as Director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Specifically, Sprynczynatyk provided unprecedented testimony on behalf of legislation to increase the contribution to North Dakota's State Aid for Public Transit program from Motor Vehicle Registration by 50 percent; encouraged the NDDOT public transit program manager to become involved on national committees, helping to shape the future of public transit at a national level; and fully supported the increase in NDDOT Transit Office personnel by an additional person, effectively doubling the full-time transit staff.

Dispatcher of the Year

Introduced in 2007, the Dispatcher of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding dispatcher from each member state whose service has enhanced the quality of public transportation in his or her community. To qualify, nominees must have demonstrated professionalism in their duties and displayed a positive image for public transit.

Picture of Betty Starkey and Laurie McGuireBetty Starkey of James River Transit in Jamestown was named the 2007 North Dakota Dispatcher of the Year. Her nomination letter reads, Betty "has excellent communication skills which are essential when working as a dispatcher. She not only interprets the passengers' needs and desires, but also passes that information on to drivers in a concise, clear and easily understood manner. Her professionalism is demonstrated on a daily basis. Her good-natured camaraderie with drivers and the mutual respect generated has helped to create a congenial team atmosphere."

Picture of Nicole Kuper receiving awardNicole Kuper of River Cities Public Transit in Pierre has been named the 2007 South Dakota Dispatcher of the Year. According to the nomination letter, "Nicole's ability to use and understand our new scheduling and dispatch system has even the vendors of the system impressed. She went above and beyond her responsibilities at River Cities Public Transit to provide training for other transit agencies in the state that have purchased the same system, and she also provides technical support to those agencies. Nicole has traveled to several other South Dakota transit agencies to help train new dispatchers and help with problems."

Above & Beyond Award

Sponsored by Sure-Lok

Sure-Lok sponsors the "Above & Beyond" award for North and South Dakota. This award was created to honor a staff person or system that has exhibited extraordinary dedication and devotion to transporting people with special needs. The purpose is to honor a driver who has performed in an outstanding manner (Above & Beyond) and has shown care and concern for passengers with special needs.

Picture of Paul Norgaard receiving awardPaul Norgaard, Fargo Senior Commission's bus driver from Steele County, was named the 2007 Sure-Lok "Above & Beyond" recipient for North Dakota. Paul has been driving for Fargo Senior Commission for nine years. His nomination states, "While all of our drivers do a great job, Paul has the ability and desire to provide that extra measure of care when serving those with special needs. For the past nine years, Paul has demonstrated over and over again a desire to make our transit service one that meets as many client needs as possible. Whether suggesting new routes or stops, time changes or adding days of service, Paul has always listened to his riders and has been very persuasive in implementing changes. Truthfully, I have never had a client call to complain about Paul; on the contrary, many have commented that he is so kind and helpful, and he makes his passengers feel comfortable and safe while they ride his bus."

One rider in particular credits Paul's service as the main reason she is able to stay in her own home in rural Grand Forks County. This person has many health challenges and has to visit doctors and therapists many times a month. Paul has arranged the bus schedule to accommodate her needs and has even gone grocery shopping for her, so she and his other passengers could all make their appointments on time.

Picture of David Chipman receiving awardDave Chipman is the 2007 Sure-Lok "Above & Beyond" recipient for South Dakota. The nomination letter stated, "Dave is the definition of Above & Beyond. As a driver for Prairie Hills Transit for the last five years, Dave has always been much more to his passengers than the driver who pulls up to give them a ride. Since coming back to work for Prairie Hills Transit (PHT) in 2002, Dave has played a key part in the daily transportation of both Adjustment Training Center passengers and students with disabilities attending the local public schools. Known as 'Old Dave' to the ADJ riders, his smiling face, snowy white hair and inexhaustible patience make him their favorite."

The nomination letter provided an example of his dedication. A young lady who started high school this year can attest to how much Dave's help has meant to her. Each school day morning Dave picks up this new freshman, in her wheelchair, to attend high school. Spearfish's High School consists of long hallways with many students rushing from one end of the school to the other to make it to class on time. It is no easy task for a student to carry the new required laptop computers, books and personal items needed, even if they are a fully fit ambulatory young person. In this young lady's case, balancing everything on her lap while she moves the wheels of the chair was very difficult. Dave would always take the time to push her chair into the school, but from there she was on her own, many times late for class or with books falling all around her. After a long month of watching this struggle, Dave felt something had to be done.

Working with PHT dispatcher, Steve Silvernagel and local friend of transit, Bill Ingalls, they decided she needed an electric wheelchair of her own. Because of the cost, this luxury was cost prohibitive for her family. This team of men made numerous calls, but in the end Bill located a used electric wheel chair; Steve found the owner; and the three of them convinced the owner to allow this young lady to use it. On the day they presented the wheelchair, no thanks were needed, but the joy on her face when they surprised her at school with the chair told more than any words.

Congratulations to all 2007 DTA Award Winners.

DTA Logo | Home | Newsletter Archives | Required Plug-ins

Dakota Transit Association's Newsletter
Serving North and South Dakota

Any questions or comments?
Please use our comments form.