October 20, 2016

Ashley Cantlon, PE, LEED AP BD+C, ENV SP, a Senior Water Resources Engineer in Otak’s Portland office, was awarded the Young Leader Award from the Oregon chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA)!  An awards banquet was held on October 14 in Bend, Oregon.

This award recognizes and encourages young APWA members who have demonstrated an initial commitment to the profession and the Association, and show potential for future growth within the Association. The award promotes the concept that length of career does not necessarily indicate leadership abilities or potential for service. The Young Leader Award is sponsored by the Leadership and Management Committee.

Ashley was also a runner-up for the annual Gizmo Award. While not an achievement award in the traditional sense, the Gizmo (AKA Golden Knuckle) Award nonetheless is an important function of the chapter. First presented in 1987, the award has raised thousands of dollars for scholarships given by the chapter's Scholastic Foundation. Ashley narrowly lost out on the Gizmo award to Krey Younger.

Award nominations are submitted APWA peers. Here’s what the nominator had to say about Ashley and her great work:

“Ashley is a role model for young professionals at Otak and within the community through her design work at Otak, affiliation with APWA, and community outreach. Ashley has 12 years of experience as a water resources engineer. She is a Professional Engineer, a LEED Accredited Professional, and an Envision Sustainability Professional. Ashley has been an APWA member for five years; she is currently an APWA board director, previously chair of the Water Resources committee and the Young Professionals committee. She recognizes the importance of attracting new talent to the engineering field and through her connections with local academic institutions she regularly meets with students and academic groups. Each summer for the past 10 years, she has donated a week of her vacation time to serve as a counselor or administrator at the Satori Summer Camp for academically and intellectually talented middle school students. At Otak, she uses projects as teaching opportunities for younger staff by reviewing designs and reports with them. Ashley is also a member of Otak’s safety and CAD coordination committees. Ashley has prepared many sustainable stormwater designs for municipalities, and her project experience includes LID and “green street” approaches in urban environments. She is continually advancing her knowledge about LID techniques related to stormwater management, so that she can advise on a variety of projects.”

Congratulations to Ashley on winning this award! We are grateful to have her at Otak.

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   October 20, 2016

Great Oregon ShakeOut 2016

On October 20, Otak staff participated in Oregon’s annual statewide earthquake drill, the Great Oregon ShakeOut. This annual event brings awareness to earthquake preparedness and safety and is observed in cities all around the world.

Following the drill in the morning, the Otak Safety Committee led an open house discussion of how the company will respond in the event of an emergency. Based on the outcome of the discussion, Otak is gathering additional resources and refining communication plans so the company is better prepared for an emergency scenario. 

The Otak Safety Committee encourages everyone to gather their own emergency kit to keep at their desk. For ideas about what to include in your own kits, refer to the Red Cross guide here: 

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   October 18, 2016

From September 28 through October 1st, Otak staff members attended the ASCE National Convention held in Portland, Oregon. 

Otak’s Doug Sarkkinen, PE, SE presented his team’s 2015 fast-track design and construction of the Dungeness River Railroad Trestle Replacement project. Designed and constructed in seven months, this project resulted in restoration of the Discovery Trail over the Dungeness River near Sequim, Washington.  Otak was hired in May 2015 and the bridge was re-opened December 2015.  Otak’s team generated 10 design options with the final selection proving to be salmon friendly to the river’s several anadromous fish runs and “river worthy” by virtue of foundations capable of withstanding deep scour forces and seasonal debris buildup.   

The trail and bridge over the Dungeness River is owned by the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe.  A February 2015 flood damaged the adjoining railroad trestle and bridge and associated foundations.  Fast-track completion by Otak of this project restored use of the Discovery Trail to numerous hikers, bikers, pedestrians, and commuters who count on it as an important multi-modal transportation route.

ABOVE: Doug Sarkkinen, PE, SE, highlights Otak’s Dungeness River Railroad Trestle Replacement project at the ASCE 2016 National Convention

The event  was an excellent backdrop for connecting with partners and staying current with the latest advances in how to prepare our communities for the future. 

ABOVE: Jim Hamann, Otak President and CEO (left), and Brian Burby of Otak (right) meet with representatives from leading universities throughout the West. 

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   October 14, 2016

Please congratulate Jesse Reynolds, in our Redmond office, who recently passed his Certified Floodplain Manager exam through the Association of State Floodplain Managers. This national program recognizes continuing education and professional development that enhances the knowledge and performance of local, state, federal, and private-sector floodplain management professionals. The role of a floodplain manager is expanding due to increases in disaster losses, the emphasis on mitigation to alleviate the cycle of damage-rebuild-damage, and a recognized need for professionals to adequately address these issues. 

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   October 11, 2016

By Mandi Roberts

One of the best ways to enhance community livability and strengthen neighborhoods is to design certain core streets to serve multiple purposes—as complete streets for multi-modal transportation and as festival streets, designed as pedestrian and open air market shared space that can be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic during special celebrations and events. Otak was proud to co-host a “walkshop” of our Georgetown Festival Street Project at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) annual conference, held in Seattle in late September. The theme of the conference “Designing Cities” offered sessions and mobile workshops on a variety of innovative and interesting urban design and innovative street design topics. Otak partnered with Fehr & Peers and the City of Seattle Department of Transportation to host the walking tour of the vibrant Georgetown Neighborhood, focused on the recent festival street improvements. For the Georgetown Walkshop guide, click here

The Georgetown Festival Street Walkshop hosts highlighted neighborhood history and background, revitalization of the area, some of the unique challenges of designing a festival street, the importance of neighborhood engagement, the role the improvement area serves in hosting street parties, design references (including best practice built examples and the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide), and some of the innovative features and public art elements integrated into the design. Two Walkshops were offered on two separate days of the conference and each was well-attended. Each group made special stop at the World Famous Fran’s Chocolates factory and guest gallery, a sweet spot at the end of the tour! Special thanks to our Walkshop team: Art Brochet and Therese Casper with SDOT, Will Lisska with Fehr & Peers, and Lori McFarland and Mandi Roberts with Otak.

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   October 4, 2016

Kevin Timmins rode the new US20: Pioneer Mountain to Eddyville alignment on Saturday as part of the Play on the Grade event. He checked out the drainage the Otak team designed and walked through the new elk culvert.

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   September 27, 2016

The 40th Annual Washington State Public Transportation Conference was held last week in Wenatchee, Washington. Held since 1976, this year’s 40th annual conference was hosted by the Washington State Department of Transportation and focused on key areas of Community Engagement, Local Solutions, and Statewide Investments.

Otak sponsored the conference and hosted a session entitled “Active Transportation on the Rise, Integrated Design of Shared-Use Paths,” which featured speakers Doug Sarkkinen, Windi Shapley, and Mandi Roberts. The session highlighted some key challenges related to implementing shared-use paths and how these challenges can be addressed through integrated design. (click here to view the presentation)

Brian Burby and Allen Hendy also attended the conference, hosting Otak’s exhibitor booth and networking with existing and potential clients. The conference and our session were well attended, and we received very positive feedback from a variety of the session participants, as well as conference attendees who stopped by the booth.

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   September 21, 2016

Several Colorado WNR staff attended the 2016 Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium held at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado this past weekend. The conference included field trip touring the North St. Vrain watershed, starting at the upper reaches at the beaver ponds in Rocky Mountain National Park and ending at a reservoir near Lyons, Colorado that was severely impacted by the flooding that occurred in 2013. The theme of the conference was Connectivity in Geomorphology, and included presentations by many well-respected names in the geomorphology community, including Matt Kondolf, Stuart Lane, Gordon Grant, Gary Brierley, and Joe Wheaton.

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   September 20, 2016

For PARK(ing) Day 2016, Otak created a “Dream Lounge” to invite passersby to relax and enjoy a temporary parklette within the city.

To engage participants, we posted writing prompts on two whiteboards. One was a “continuous story” where each participant added a sentence. The resulting story was the following:

Everything was quiet. Too quiet. That’s when I noticed the dragon terrorizing the village. I pulled on the dragon’s tail to see what would come from its mouth. Instead of fire, there came confetti and candy! 

“We all have our own reality,” replied the wizard…

I woke in a cold sweat realizing I was late for work, hurried to the car, commuted 25 miles and realized I only have ONE shoe. So, I took off my other shoe. Then I remembered it was Saturday. I decided to visit the Farmer’s Market so I could hear the bard’s song, the famous and beloved ballad “The Merry Dance of the Sugar Daddies.” 


The other whiteboard asked, “If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?"

PARK(ing) Day temporarily transforms metered parking spaces into community spaces. Bringing together citizens, artists, and activists, this global event collaboratively brings new forms to public space in urban contexts. We enjoyed sharing our parklette with the city and look forward to creating enduring community gathering places in our future projects.

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   September 19, 2016

Otak is proud to announce that Theo Malone has recently passed his Professional Engineering exam in water resources and is now officially a professional engineer! Theo has been working with Otak's water and natural resources group since 2013. He received his engineering license in Oregon. Congratulations Theo, on reaching this important career milestone!

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