• Last modified 964 days ago (Oct. 24, 2018)


Plowing snow is just part of the job

Staff writer

Sherri Pankratz of Lincolnville might be a senior engineering technician for Kansas Department of Transportation, but that doesn’t mean she can’t do hands-on work when required.

“When the snow flies, there’s a good chance I’m on call,” she said.

She doesn’t do it very often, but she has to be ready to go at a moment’s notice, especially after a large snowfall.

She uses a loader to fill the plow truck with sand, salt or a mixture, whichever is required, then goes on her way.

The blade in front of the truck pushes snow while sand or gravel is spread behind.

“I like to do the easier routes,” Pankratz said. “My favorite is North K-15. I can stop in Durham if I need to get coffee to stay awake or warm up.

“The hardest time to push snow is at night, when it’s hard to see the edge of the road. If the blade hits gravel, I know I’m off the road.”

Pankratz’s official title is engineering technician senior. She started as an engineering associate and advanced to engineering technician before moving into her current position. She recently completed 20 years with KDOT.

Her job is to supervise road and bridge construction, making sure contractors have the proper identification, are using the correct materials, and are following specifications.

She works out of the Marion headquarters, which covers Marion, McPherson, Chase, and Morris counties. She occasionally is sent to other areas when they are shorthanded.

Pankratz oversaw construction of the overpass in Herington.

“That was a big milestone for me and very rewarding,” she said. “If there were problems, we worked them out. I’m pretty proud of that.”

She especially enjoys bridge construction.

“I like building bridges because they will last longer than I’ll be alive,” she said.

She often works 60 hours a week in summer and usually 40 hours in winter.

She likes being home most nights. Her only complaint is the pay — no merit pay, no cost-of-living increases.

“I worked for 10 years without a pay increase,” she said. “It’s steady work, but your pay is subject to the governor and legislature.”

Pankratz has two daughters: Leann Troutt of Lincolnville, a part-time postal worker and certified nurses’ aide at Hillsboro and Newton; and Shelby, a student at Hutchinson Community College.

The 52-year-old Pankratz likes to dabble in politics. She is Lincolnville’s mayor. She ran for Centre school board at the last election and was not successful.

“I may try again,” she said.

Last modified Oct. 24, 2018