Lynette Steyn (left) and Michelle Reese are Kittson County Highway Department engineering technicians. They replaced Dan Hoglin and Dennis Anderson last spring and discuss their work on the highway department.
(Enterprise Photo by Margie Holmgren)
By Linda Andersen
Two new faces appeared at the Kittson County Highway Department (and at sites of road construction and culvert installation in the county) in the past year. Lynette Steyn and Michelle Reese were hired as highway engineering technicians, replacing Dan Hoglin and Dennis Anderson. Both women began their duties on May 22, 2017.
Reese is new to the area, having been born and raised in Grand Forks. She had worked at Michael’s (the arts and crafts supply store) for nine years, but realized working in retail was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
Consequently, she enrolled in the architectural technology program at Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks. County engineer, Kelly Bengtson, came to the college to recruit an employee and the rest is history. She says the training she received in AutoCAD (a designing program on the computer) at Northland is helpful in her work with the county today.
She is finding Hallock to be a “nice, peaceful town” where there are “no sirens going off all the time.”
She says it’s been “really interesting to know how much goes into road construction” and describes her fellow employees as “nice” and “patient.”
Lynette Steyn is already known to many people in the county as she grew up here and co-owns (with her mother, Roxanne Kulyk) Foxy Roxy’s Diner in Lancaster. She continues to waitress at the diner on Saturdays as she enjoys seeing her customers.
It’s been a year of highlights for Steyn. Not only did she get a new job, but she graduated from UND with a major in civil engineering and gave birth to a third son Dec. 19th (her and Clifford’s wedding anniversary).
She is very appreciative of getting a job close to home right after finishing college and finds her fellow employees to be “helpful.”
“The job is so diverse – there’s always something different to do,” she says, adding that she appreciates the chance to be outside in the summers and inside in the winters.
“We’ve been mostly putting together plan sheets for upcoming road projects,” explains Steyn of her and Reese’s work during the winter months. These plan sheets include such information as where the road projects are located, average daily traffic count, and placement of signs during construction.
“Everything has a specific design to it that has to be carried out when you do a project,” says Steyn.
Reese says she has worked “off and on” with the county’s emergency management director, Barb O’Hara, on such projects as mapping fire hydrant locations and street names.
Duties of the technicians in the summer will include inspecting and surveying road and ditch projects. They will oversee the work of contractors, making sure they are “not cutting corners,” putting pavement on too thick or thin, and using quality gravel.
Reese and Steyn attended classes in several locations in Minnesota during the winter through the Minnesota Department of Transportation in order to become certified for the various fields of inspection.
The women are fulfilling duties that have traditionally been man’s work. Are they facing any struggles in trying to do that? They say they’ve had no trouble with their male colleagues at the highway department.
“They don’t treat us differently,” says Reese.
“No issues working with the guys. I actually enjoy it – there’s no drama,” responds Steyn.
Steyn admits some concern with working with contractors in the future. “Will a contractor listen to us because we’re female?” she wonders.
Both Reese and Steyn appear to be very content in their work, supported by coworkers, and ready to overcome any hurdles that come their way.