News Briefs

Bristol District Employee, Wife Rescue Neighbors After Fiery Explosion

Robert and Beth SwineyDec. 9, 2016: Bristol District Equipment Service Repair Manager Robert Swiney and his wife, Beth, are credited with saving the lives of two people whose home exploded following a suspected gas leak last month.

After hearing the explosion, Robert and Beth drove up to what remained of their neighbors’ home in rural Washington County, where they heard cries from a couple who were trapped inside.

“When we got up there, people were frantically screaming to get them out,” Robert told the Bristol Herald Courier

“The adrenaline rush was so high, I knew we had to find whoever was trapped inside and get them out as fast as we could.”

Robert entered the smoke-filled house and pulled a man out from under debris. 

While Beth tended to the injured man, Robert reentered the house and retrieved the man’s wife, who was also covered by debris and critically injured. 

The couple and their adult son, who was also inside the home, were transported to a hospital with injuries.


Making Memories And Connections With Painted Snowplows

Varina-Enon bridge painted on a snow plowDec. 7, 2016: VDOT snowplows are getting “dressed” before the winter weather season begins. 

Several districts partnered with area schools this year to allow students the opportunity to apply their artistic touch to plow blades.

Kids from elementary to high school, and some adults, have painted everything from tropical scenes to school mascots. One school painted the Varina-Enon Bridge on a plow blade (at right.)

The painted plows have also received attention by local media outlets around the state.

“It’s good community relations for VDOT and it’s fun for the kids,” said Gary Via, Mount Crawford Area Headquarters superintendent. 

“We’ve got some future VDOTers out there.”

Take a look at the Flickr slideshow to see some of the artwork.


Opening Eyes to Career Opportunities

Hampton Roads Career FairNov. 30, 2016: Recently, more than 1,100 students flooded the Hampton Convention Center for the 2016 Transportation Career Expo.

“We were pleased to have another successful event,” said Queen Crittendon, Hampton Roads civil rights manager and organizer of the expo.

 “It was great to see the level of engagement between the students and the various exhibitors.”

Representatives were available from the Virginia Department of Education Career and Technical Education, along with the Southeastern Resource Education Board. 

These partners also helped spread the word about this event, which increased participation.  

Students were able to talk one-on-one with more than 100 transportation professionals and experience various training simulators. 

They were excited to sign a snow plow from the Williamsburg Residency. 

After being introduced to the varied careers available in the transportation industry, they may take advantage of opportunities at VDOT in the near future.


Giving Back to Nature

Pollinator plantersNov. 28, 2016: About two dozen volunteers gathered at a patch of prepared land near the VDOT Richmond District office in October to plant the district’s first pollinator habitat. 

Dedicated to combating the threat of extinction faced daily by pollinator species, the 0.3-acre garden is now filled with various wildflowers necessary for their survival.

Richmond District Environmental Specialist Nick Gerardi said he hopes that “by promoting stewardship here at work, folks will be inspired to create habitats around their homes by planting native wildflowers, especially milkweed, which plays a critical role in monarch butterfly development.”  

In addition to providing much-needed food for bees and butterflies, the pollinator garden promotes good stewardship of natural resources and is a best management practice in VDOT’s storm water and runoff efforts.


VDOT Engages With Eighth-Graders At Expo

Mission Tomorrow expoNov. 9, 2016: VDOT was one of more than 100 employers that participated in Mission Tomorrow, an interactive career exploration event for students in the Richmond region. 

Approximately 12,000 eighth-graders from eight localities – Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent and Powhatan counties and the city of Richmond – attended the event held at the Richmond International Raceway recently.

The VDOT team answered numerous questions about what the agency does and what educational requirements are sought. 

The students were able to sit in a front end loader, witness how a life-sized traffic light works and learn about paving, asphalt and aggregate.

“I was told we had one of the best booths at the event,” Human Resources Outreach Consultant Laura Nelson said.  

"In fact, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe made it a point to compliment the team on our set-up. The students were amazed that a traffic light was so large!”


Page last modified: Dec. 9, 2016