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A Neligh man was recognized with some of Nebraska's highest honors at the state capitol last week.
Governor Pete Ricketts presented Ray Branstiter with the 2018 Governor's Excellence in Leadership Award and appointed him an Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.
Branstiter, who is the Nebraska Department of Roads district operations and maintenance manager for District 3 in Norfolk, received the distinguished awards at the Capitol Rotunda in Lincoln on Thursday.
“It’s a huge honor to be nominated and receive that award,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Branstiter was nominated by his co-workers and supervisors and selected by his agency director to represent the Department of Transportation.
According to his nomination bio, he is a dedicated leader who truly cares for others.
“Aligning resources is second nature to Ray Branstiter, whether it is ordering material for road repairs or making sure all people and equipment are prepared before a winter storm,” the nomination stated. “Ray is a proactive, visionary leader, and ensures that everyone has the resources they need to do the best job possible. Ray’s dedication to the job and genuine concern for the well-being of teammates and the public is unwavering. He often puts in long hours during storms and any emergency situation that arises. Ray leads by example, is always ready to listen, and encourages teammates to better themselves both personally and professionally.”
Earlier in the week, he was also recognized for 40 years of service to the Nebraska Department of Roads and was presented a clock.
In 1978, Branstiter started out as a maintenance worker, patching potholes, cutting trees, pushing snow and other road-related labor.
“Back then we used tar,” he said. “Tar came in 30-gallon steel tubs that had to be split with an axe before it was melted.”
In 1987, Branstiter was promoted to NDOR supervisor in Bloomfield, and about 10 years later, he moved up to superintendent in Neligh. In 2010, he was promoted to district operations and maintenance manager for District #3 in Norfolk.
“My dad was the supervisor at Niobrara, so I was his boss for one day,” Branstiter said with a chuckle. “It was my dad’s last day before his retirement.”
He said he is very humbled by his recent award.
“When I started this job, I didn’t think I’d be a lifer, but here I am,” Branstiter said.
He and his wife Deb reside in Neligh and have three grown children, Rachael, Rebecca and Brett, and two grandchildren.