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Q & A with Donnie Easter, Joshua Rapp, and Sean McClafferty

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When was the last time you drove through a work zone and thought about the people working alongside the road, the construction crews in hard hats and vests? They have names. They have families. Like all of us, they want to go home safely at the end of their shift. And that depends on you.

We interviewed three employees from Knife River Materials of Central Point, the prime contractor on the $120 million Oregon 62 Expressway project that increases capacity and improves safety for commercial freight, tourism and commuters from Medford to destinations east.

Donnie Easter, 38, is a foreman. Joshua Rapp, 36, is a project manager and estimator. Sean McClafferty, 59, is a field superintendent. These three gentlemen graciously agreed to be our cover models and share their personal stories with our readers.

It is our hope as you learn more about Donnie, Joshua and Sean, you consider the many construction workers who live in the Rogue Valley and travel through their work zones with more care and kindness.

 

DONNIE

Q: Who or what is the reason you get up each morning and do this job?
I wake up every day to go to work so I can provide for my family.

Q: What’s one thing people need to know about highway construction work?
A couple things I would like the public to understand is that with our job we often perform work at night in an effort not to affect the public traffic flow during daytime hours. So, as it may be an inconvenience on your commute as you drive through any work zone, take just a second to think about how fast you are driving and ask yourself, “Would I drive at the same speed if it were my loved ones out there working?”

Q: What’s an unusual experience with the public you’ve had in this job?
We see many unusual things on our job sites, but the one that stands out is watching a police chase. As the driver was trying to elude the officer, he drove into our work zone, and when he realized that there was no way through, he jumped out of his car and ran on foot. The car was still moving, and it crashed into the side of my truck. The police were able to chase him down. Ultimately, the driver was arrested.

Q: How do you enjoy your free time?
Usually, you can find me helping with my kids’ various sports and activities. From football to marching band, it definitely keeps us busy. Being involved and helping our children is what I look forward to during the day.

Q: What do you like most about the Rogue Valley?
I was born and raised in the Rogue Valley. It is easy to take for granted our outdoors. No matter what outdoor adventure you are looking for, it is only a short drive away.

 

JOSHUA

Q: Who or what is the reason you get up each morning and do this job?
My wife, Jennifer, and my four kids, Dylan, Chase, Rylee and Asthyn.

Q: What’s one thing people need to know about highway construction work?
Highway and road construction work is challenging, ever-changing and often dangerous. The people under the hardhats and behind the vests are hard-working, caring members of our community who show up each day and give it their best. It is our responsibility as a community, both workers and public, to ensure that everyone is kept safe.

Q: What’s an unusual experience with the public you’ve had in this job?
One time, I noticed a sedan driving upon a large dirt berm not intended for vehicle traffic. When I arrived at the vehicle to stop them, the two passengers said their phone’s mapping app was showing this berm as the route to a winery. They ignored the many barrels, barricades and signs, and chose to obey the phone’s directions, which took them on a dangerous and nearly impassable path.

Q: How do you enjoy your free time?
My children are active in sports and other activities that keep us pretty busy. We love how the community rallies around our youth. We also love to hike around Southern Oregon and travel whenever we can.

Q: What do you like most about the Rogue Valley?
The Rogue Valley is the only place that will ever be home to me. I had the opportunity to experience much of the world through the military and was stationed several places far from here. Every time I returned, I was reminded why this valley is so special. I cannot think of a better place on earth to raise my children.

 

SEAN

Q: Who or what is the reason you get up each morning and do this job?
Providing for my family’s future is the biggest reason I go to work each day.

Q: What’s one thing people need to know about highway construction work?
We work hard and long hours to impact people the least, many times through the night while they sleep. We take pride in knowing our finished project makes their lives and commutes safer, more convenient and more appealing.

Q: What’s an unusual experience with the public you’ve had in this job?
It’s the kind word or thank you — coming from a pedestrian or a motorist who is looking forward to our finished project — that’s most unusual but gratefully appreciated.

Q: How do you enjoy your free time?
I spend my free time having barbecues with my family, going on fishing trips at the coast, or enjoying local outdoor excursions with my wife.

Q: What do you like most about the Rogue Valley?
Take a 10-minute drive in any direction, and the Rogue Valley has so much to offer in outdoor activities and beauty.

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