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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Granada Hills

Caltrans Workers Honored at Event

May 04, 2000|GREG RISLING

Overtime pay and an extended vacation are nice benefits for state transportation workers, but being appreciated has its perks as well.

More than 100 Caltrans employees were honored at a luncheon Wednesday at the department's station in Granada Hills. The agency's administrators were joined by Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar), who praised the work crews that maintain and improve the state's freeways.

"These are the guys who are out there where the rubber and the road meet, literally," Cardenas said. "They put their lives on the line for the public's safety. While we may be inconvenienced for a period of time while they are working on the freeways, the end result is safer roads."

Caltrans employees each received a plaque recognizing their dedication to the department. They were treated to a free lunch by Cardenas and Caltrans directors who were serving hamburgers and hot dogs.

Workers also paid tribute to a colleague who died while on the job. Charles Demming, 46, was killed earlier this year in Azusa when his truck plunged 200 feet off a cliff while clearing debris from the road. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

"I think a lot of people aren't conscious of how dangerous this job can be," said Junius Pierson, chief of safety and health for the agency's Los Angeles and Ventura counties office. "You have someone zipping by at 70 mph, and these guys are standing a few feet away from traffic."

Bill Sanborn, area superintendent, echoed Pierson's sentiments and said he hopes this will be the first of many yearly luncheons for Caltrans employees.

"In some ways our job is a thankless one," Sanborn said. "We can compensate the employees with pay and time off, but there are certain things that can't be measured, like thanks for a job well done."

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