2018 Annual Business Meeting Recap

Dig Safely New York, Inc. held its Annual Business Meeting on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at Del Lago Resort & Casino in Waterloo, NY. More than 100 people attended this year’s 49th annual membership meeting.

Executive Director Kevin Hopper addressed the attendees with the organizational accomplishments in 2017, and his vision for a united safety front from members and Dig Safely New York in the future. “The world is moving fast and no one realizes the importance of damage prevention — until they are inconvenienced. It can be a thankless job, but I personally want to say thank you for thinking of Dig Safely New York and being a part of the safety community,” Hopper said to attendees. 

He ended his report with this message, “…As an organization, Dig Safely New York looks at its collective membership and works to build that safety culture for everyone, in every community we serve. We are a small nonprofit, and with only nine (9) team members, we are able to accomplish so much on behalf of our 

members. Then I see each member doing their own things for the common goal of damage prevention… these efforts, when pooled with Dig Safely New York's knowledge and resources, would further damage prevention in a way no other state has been able to accomplish. Individually, we are one drop trying to fight through the constant noise of messaging and marketing to 

the public. But together, we can be an ocean, flooding the state with a cohesive safety message on a united front. We're called Dig Safely New York for a reason. Only by working together, can New York [state] truly dig safely.”

The Town of WallKill was awarded with this year’s Partner in Damage Prevention Award for being the first municipality to obtain certification from Dig Safely New York’s Certified Excavator Program in Safe Digging Best Practices for their entire Department of Public Works in March 2017. Lou Ingrassia, Commissioner of Public Works for the town, chose to adopt this training to set a standard for his employees and empower them to be equipped with the knowledge of safe digging procedures that are both required by law and expected as recommended best practices. The town's commitment to safety and productivity has earned them this year's Partner in Damage Prevention Award 

Since Dig Safely New York launched the Certified Excavator Program  in May 2015, we have seen many individuals, companies, and organizations embrace the opportunity. To date, more than 2,400 professionals are currently certified through the voluntary course.

All open seats on the Dig Safely New York’s Board of Directors were filled at the business meeting. The 2018 Board of Directors includes, Michael Bushart, City of Rochester Water Bureau; Brandon Mariner, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation; Brian Loy, Buckeye Partners, L.P.; Michael Kolceski, Independent Engineer; Tom Sutton, Kinder 

Morgan; William VanDame, City of Rochester Engineering; David D’Angelo, Onondaga County Water Authority; Matt Scorzelli, Syracuse Utilities; Leon Hacker, Verizon; Laurie Brown, National Grid; Joseph Laraiso, M&C Utilities; Donald Ayers, Enterprise Products; Daniel Fitzpatrick, Orange & Rockland Utilities, Inc.; Ronal Dietz, National Fuel; Allen Peterson, NYSEG/RG&E; Richard Figaro, Consolidated Edison; Jon McKnight, Spectrum.

The President’s Award was honored to Jon McKnight at this year’s meeting. The award recognizes individuals who assist in furthering the goals of Dig Safely New York. McKnight is not only considered acornerstone of the industry but through numberless hours, helped lay a strong foundation for Dig Safely New York. Encompassing the mission whole-heartedly, Jon served onthe Board of Directors through generations and has stood witness to countless historical events. From 2005–2014, serving with passion and dedication as President of the Board of Directors, he contributedto exponential technological growth. Now in 2018, Dig Safely New York still utilizes these advancements daily, in our efforts of education and safety.

All Dig Safely New York Directors and Officers serve unpaid positions. Their unwavering support helps to shape and clarify the future of what Dig Safely New York means to professional excavators, homeowner, utility operators, and other stakeholders in the industry. Each year, Dig Safely New York recognizes the Directors and Officers that have resigned from the Board, to thank them for their contributions during their tenure. This year, the following individuals were award the

Golden Spade Award:

  • Claudine Campbell-Whitehead, Orange and Rockland Utilities
  • Tom Gumble, Frontier Communications
  • Henry Hutchinson, Consolidated Edison
  • Courtney Piniewski, National Fuel
  • Karl Reer, Central Hudson

Damage Prevention Council Awards

It is also tradition to recognize extraordinary individuals who have performed exceptional contributions toward Dig Safely New York’s damage prevention efforts across the state. These awards are given to individuals within the Damage Prevention Councils.

Capital Region

The 2017 recipient has been an active member of the council for many years. He has served as a council officer and has supported many trainings and promotional events. The Capital Region Damage Prevention Council presented this year’s award to Jack Curran, retired from the New York State Thruway Authority.

Central New York

The recipient of the 2017 award has worked diligently to keep the activities and discussions of the council on track as the secretary. She has participated in many educational and promotional events in the region. The Central New York Damage Prevention Council presented the Tom Petroff Council Person of the Year Award to Jodie Langer with National Grid.


Hudson Valley

The 2017 recipient has been a long-time supporter of damage prevention and has been a council volunteer for too many years to count. During those years he has consistently generated new ideas to benefit damage prevention. His participation in picket lines, banner programs, and the community sign program have not gone unnoticed. His assistance with the implementation of Dig Safely New York's Certified Excavator Program and the Gold Shovel initiative within his company has helped to train hundreds of his fellow employees. All of his efforts demonstrate his passion for damage prevention. The Hudson Valley Damage Prevention Council presented this year’s award to Joe Manadara with Orange and Rockland.

Mohawk Valley 

The 2017 recipient has worked hard for damage prevention. He has coordinated many locating and vacuum excavation demonstrations, as well as sponsored many excavator breakfasts. He is always an enthusiastic volunteer for event and promotions, such as the painted logo program. He shows what an exemplary volunteer looks like for not only the Mohawk Valley DPC, but two (2) other DPCs in the state. The Mohawk Valley Damage Prevention Council presented this year’s award to Mike Quick with USIC.


The 2017 recipient has been an active member of the council for a number of years, holding many offices as well as being a strong advocate for public awareness of 811. The Capital Region Damage Prevention Council presented this year’s award to Scott LaValley, retired from NYSEG.

Southern Tier

The 2017 recipient joined the Damage Prevention Council just over a year ago and has adopted the Damage Prevention message wholeheartedly. From hanging banner's and painting 811 logo's to incorporating 811 on vacation; she is always thinking of ways to spread the 811 message which demonstrates her passion for damage prevention. The Southern Tier Damage Prevention Council presented this year’s award to Anna Caron with NYSEG / RG&E.

Utility Coordinating Committee

The recipient of the 2017 award is the epitome of a member Damage Prevention Council member.  She can be counted on to volunteer at every function and her dedication to the cause of damage prevention is unmatched.  She arranges monthly DPC meetings every year at RG&E, attends our community function both on work and person time. Thanks to her belief in spreading the message of safety she spearheaded an effort to arrange a yearly Dig Safely New York stop sign sticker advertisement on a Sunday Democrat & Chronicle issue to promote April as National Safe Digging Month. The Utility Coordinating Committee presented this year’s award to Karen Robinson of RG&E.

Western New York 

The 2017 recipient has played an integral role in the Western New York  Damage Prevention Council over the last few years. She quickly stepped up as a leader among the group and always brings forth new and innovative ways to improve outreach, including instituting a friendly competition to the region’s annual Steak Out. Although her position with her company has shifted as of late, she shows a continued willingness to assist with any role that is asked of her and continues to be an active member, and familiar face in the Damage Prevention Council. The Western New York Damage Prevention Council presented this year’s award to Courtney Piniewski with National Fuel.