Michael Taluto, safety press officer in PennDOT District 4, conducted the interview with Mr. Galante.
Salvatore (Sam) Galante is the Luzerne County Manager in PennDOT's District 4. He has been with PennDOT for 40 of our 50 years as a department.
As a field employee, Galante found it gratifying to do hands-on work, completing a project from start to finish. As a manager, he enjoys giving other employees the tools and training needed to perform high-quality work within budget. What does he find most rewarding overall? Being able to help customers by rectifying any problem that arises.
Salvatore Galante's PennDOT Journey
Advice from Galante's father and grandfather ultimately led him to PennDOT. They told him to think long term when it comes to employment, looking at benefits and opportunity for advancement.
"I started in 1980 as a highway maintenance worker at $4.54 an hour, knowing that pay would increase with longevity and promotions," Galante said.
When asked what has changed the most about his job during his time at PennDOT, he said safety protocols have drastically changed over the years for the better. There was a time when incidents of unsafe behavior weren't thoroughly investigated in an attempt to prevent similar incidents in the future, but those days are long behind us.
"[PennDOT's] safety division has put an emphasis on accident prevention, such as Safety Stand Down days," Galante said. "At the county and district level, all accidents are reviewed for cause and prevention."
He also commented that technological advancements over the past 40 years have had a significant impact on his job.
"Technology has become a way of life from payrolls to computerized spreaders," he said.
Galante would like Pennsylvanians to know that PennDOT employees are dedicated to their work, and it is not unusual for them to go above and beyond to get projects completed.
"I wish the general public knew how many miles of road we have to maintain with a limited number of employees, along with having a real budget and not an open check book," Galante said.
Galante's most memorable day at work occurred during a blizzard in 2017. He was contacted by the Pennsylvania State Police when there was an infant in need of emergency surgery at Geisinger in Danville. The request was for three plow trucks to escort the ambulance and state police.
"I contacted Doug Yacuboski, the assistant manager in the Hazleton area, and I tasked him with coordinating with PSP and accompanying our plow trucks to Geisinger," Galante said. "I took over snow removal operations in Hazleton, and Doug called when the ambulance arrived at Geisinger. The operation was successful the infant had a full recovery."
Governor Wolf acknowledged the situation at a news conference and later visited the PennDOT stockpile in Dupont to meet and thank all employees involved.
When he eventually retires from PennDOT, Galante says he'll miss working daily with his PennDOT family within his county and district, as well as PennDOT's central office staff in Harrisburg.
"Over the years I have met and worked with some very caring, involved people always working towards creating safer roads. What I will not miss is WINTER!"
Watch the video at the top of this page to hear more about Salvatore Galante's PennDOT career. Visit PennDOT.gov/50years to learn about PennDOT's 50-year history.