2017 STAR Recognition

Shane Tolosko, Mike Gargalikis & James Delao's Efforts To Keep Employees Cool Earns STARS

12/6 Shane Tolosko, Mike Gargalikis and James Delao earned STAR awards for developing a portable system to keep employees cool while working in excavations when temperatures soar. 

During high heat days, temperatures inside of an excavation can be much higher than that of the surrounding area. Temperatures inside oan excavation can reach 105 degrees, which can be considered dangerous when performing strenuous activity such as leak repairs.

To facilitate performing needed leak repairs in these high heat conditions, while keeping the crews cool and safe Shane, Mike and James developed the “Snowflake”. This device utilizes an ice chest, ducting and flow to blow cool air into the excavation. Initial tests have been successful and the portable device will be ready for the high heat days of summer.

The gentlemen volunteered to take on the task to improve worker safety in high heat conditions and showing care for their fellow employees. The group researched ideas, procured the necessary materials and developed the unit.

Randy Anduzza & Deion Gonsalves Earn STAR Award for Engineering Lid Lifter

12/6 Randy Anduzza & Deion Gonsalves worked on finding a safer, more ergonomic solution in opening stubborn valves lids. With Randy’s idea of building a device that would minimize the force required to open the valve lids, Deion was able to build a device to use on our lids. Both gentleman worked on manufacturing a version that would work on our valve lids. The device has been used in the field by our crews and the reports that have come back have been positive. The device has been working great and is doing exactly what it was designed for, minimizing the force required to open difficult valve lids.

Great initiative, design, and building a device that can be used by our crews safely and effectively.

Assisting Injured Woman Earns Shane Pinto STAR Award 

12/6 Canal Safety Officer Shane Pinto was awarded a STAR Award for assisting and injured woman along the Contra Costa Canal.

Shane was patrolling the canal when he was flagged down by a trail user who reported a woman lying across the trail. Shane immediately responded to the woman and asked if she was okay. The woman stated she had been ill. He then asked her if she needed an ambulance to which she declined.

As the woman sat up, Shane noticed large bruising on her chest. Shane asked how she was injured. The woman stated that she had been assaulted by her boyfriend and identified her attacker. Shane contacted the Contra Costa County Sheriff and notified dispatch of the incident. Shane stayed by the area until emergency services arrived and loaded the woman into the ambulance. Shane provided a statement to the Sheriff deputies about what the woman told him and what he witnessed. The woman was then transported to the hospital.

Shane went above the call of duty. Not only did he tend her the woman’s immediate needs, he also has the presence of mind to ensure her safety by calling the authorities to report what the woman had told him.

 Pat McConnell Acts Quickly, Earns STAR Award For Quick Action In Rescuing Driver in Canal

9/18 Pat McConnell earned a STAR award for helping a driver whose car had crashed into the Contra Costa Canal in Antioch. 

Pat was first on the scene. He proceeded down the steep embankment to the canal with all appropriate PPE and tools to open the liner fence along the canal and assist the driver of the car.

The car was full of water and Pat was able to get to the driver and keep eye contact with him and stay calm. They could hear the sirens coming down the street.

The driver was in his early 20’s and scared.

Pat was equipped with a throw bag and other tools if the car were to shift or change direction.

The driver was in his early 20’s and scared. 

The driver was rescued from the car by the Fire Dept. unharmed.

This is not the first time Pat has responded to a car in the canal incident. Every time he does, Pat is calm, prepared, plays a huge roll in the retrieval and handles it like a pro.
"The District takes great pride in safety, said Safety Committee President Mary Dunn. "Pat is a prime example of what we strive for. Thank you for your courageous act of safety and concern. It is recognized and appreciated." 


Reggie Harris Earns Safety STAR For Ensuring All On-Call Employees Have Equal Training

8/28 Reggie Harris earned a Safety STAR  after he made a suggestion to the Manager of Health & Safety regarding levels of training for on-call Supervisors. His suggestion included recommending that Supervisors receive the same levels of training as the crews in the field they were supporting after-hours.

The safety manager discussed this with the Maintenance Manager which initiated a comprehensive review, and over the course of the past several months he has updated the training requirements moving forward for staff accepting on-call pay. This permanent change to our training and safety program is a direct result of Reggie’s involvement with all aspects of his job.

"This type of commitment to safety is what the District strives for and recognizes, said District Safety Committee Chair Mary Dunn. "Thank you Reggie for your continued efforts and dedication. Great job and an award well deserved."

Robert Wolverton and Brandon Chalk Earn Safety STARs For Assisting at Early Morning Car Accident 

6/8 Robert Wolverton and Brandon Chalk earned Safety STARs for their work in assisting at a three-car accident in front of District Center on May 31. Both were among the first people at the scene of the early morning crash and assisted a seriously-wounded crash victim and also worked to control traffic to make the intersection safe.  Both used their safety training at the accident scene.  "It's actions like these that were demonstrated by these gentlemen that remind us what concern and safety is all about," said District Safety Committee Acting Chair Mary Dunn. 

Tracy Chilson Earns Safety STAR For Showing Compassion, Using Skills as First Responder To Vasco Road Accident 

5/15 Tracy Chilson earned a Safety STAR Award, for actions that show superior commitment to safety. Tracy utilized not only his safety training, but provided first responder care and showed extreme compassion for the victim until paramedics arrived. "This type of safety commitment, and personal behavior, is what sets District employee’s apart from others," said District Safety Committee Chair John Parsons.  "Great job Tracy, well deserved!!" 

Tracy was leaving the Transfer Facility about to turn on Vasco Road, when a female pulled up in the driveway and told him there was a car accident with injuries on Vasco Road. As Tracy pulled out to go North on Vasco Road, Tracy could see the accident on the road and no emergency vehicle were on scene yet. Tracy pulled up to the accident and turned his overhead lights on and positioned his vehicle to block North bound traffic on Vasco Road. Tracy approached the scene and confirmed that 911 had been called.

Tracy saw a van with the driver slumped over the steering wheel. The driver side door was damaged and Tracy was unable to open the door. Tracy entered the vehicle through the passenger side door and found the person bleeding from the head and unconscious. Tracy checked the vital signs and found the person breathing with a pulse. The subject was left where he was at due to possible head and neck injuries. Tracy held the subject hand and had him squeeze his hand if he could hear him. Tracy attempted to keep the subject conscious until paramedics arrived on scene. The subject was eventually extracted from the vehicle and transported to the hospital by helicopter from the scene. Tracy remained on scene until the subject was transported and the vehicles were removed”

Brian Breklemans and Aaron Christensmith Earn STARS For 'Getting Involved' & Possibly Preventing A Disaster 

3/21 Brian Breklemans and Aaron Christensmith earned only the third and fourth safety STARS of the year when they tried to help an unconscious woman in her car.

The woman turned out to be intoxicated. Brian and Aaron made sure she did not drive her car and called police.

The STAR is the District's highest safety honor.

"It is very easy to see someone in this condition and either call 911 and leave, or just walk away to not get involved," said Safety Committee Chair John Parsons.  "In this instance, this woman could have woke up on her own and decided to drive away, potentially killing herself and/or someone else along with her!

"Acts like this do not happen nearly enough, and should never go without being recognized as selfless and responsible acts within our community," said John.

While performing daily routine work Brian and Aaron noticed the woman slumped over the steering wheel of her running vehicle in the Starbucks parking lot on Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill. 

After a few minutes, they became concerned that the woman may have a medical issue. The car was still running and she was unconscious.  

Brian and Aaron attempted to wake the woman without success. Aaron contacted 911 and they continued to try to wake the woman. The woman eventually awoke and was incoherent. It became apparent that she was heavily intoxicated.

After discussion with Brian and Aaron, she agreed not to drive, locked her vehicle and left the area. Pleasant Hill Police arrived, took a report and waited to see if the woman would return.

"Having staff ensure that she not drive certainly displays safety concern above and beyond what they would be reasonably expected to exhibit, but shows how they kept safety in the front of their minds as it relates to others who may have been impacted as well," said John.

"Great job gentlemen, you are a shining example of how safety is put to work each and every day no matter where we are!"

Insisting on Red Tagging Vehicle Before Tour Earns First STARs of 2017 for Jacob Elsberry & Deion Gonsalves

 Jacob Elsberry and Deion Gonsalves earned the year's first safety STARs, the District's highest safety honor, for insisting that a vehicle, scheduled to be used for a Board of Director tour, be taken out of service when issues were discovered with the parking brake. 

The night before the tour was to take place, Central County maintenance was told the vehicle had issues with its parking brake. The driver had been instructed to use the vehicle but not park on any inclines.


At the morning tailboard meeting, Jacob Elsberry and Deion Gonsalves were adamant that this was a safety issue and this vehicle needed to be red tagged until they could evaluate the nature of the brake problem.  Jason Todd had the vehicle red tagged and brought to the shop.


After analysis, the problem was not a simple adjustment of the parking brake, the parking brake was totally shot.  Using any District vehicle with a brake issue is a safety issue and a liability and Jacob and Deion did the right thing by insisting this vehicle be assessed properly by qualified mechanics before the decision was made to allow it to be used in any capacity.  They protected the public, our employees, and the Board Members who would have been using this vehicle.

 "Insisting this vehicle be taken out of service until it could be inspected exhibits not only the empowerment of staff as it pertains to safety, but is a prime example that safety is first when we perform our work," said Safety Committee Chair John Parsons.