OTE - Oregon Travel Experience

OTE Staff

Salem, Director’s Office

Jim Denno, Executive Director

Jim graduated from the University of Puget Sound and then went to work for public transit in Tacoma, Washington. He left Tacoma to come to Oregon and work for the City of Salem public works. After leaving City employment, he spent 12 years as a private business owner. He began his career in state government as a manager with the Building Codes Division. Following stints at the Department of Energy, the Board of Architect Examiners and the Construction Contractors Board, he joined the TIC in January of 2018. Jim loves to spend time with family, is an avid musician, gardener, and enjoys a good cup of coffee.

Tim Pickett, Director of Administration

Tim Pickett has been with OTE since 2009. Tim has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He later added a BA in Accounting from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, CA. Tim says that as deputy director, he is committed to ensuring that OTE’s varied programs operate flawlessly as the agency assumes increased public responsibilities. Tim is also committed to OTE’s customers, partners, and coalitions.

Nancy DeSouza, Senior Policy Advisor

Nancy DeSouza is a native Oregonian with more than 24 years experience in Oregon state government executive management service. She is an honors graduate of the University of Oregon, with advanced studies in appropriate dispute resolution and organizational development. Her areas of expertise include public policy, organizational development and change management, administrative law, budget development and oversight, legislative affairs and semi-independent state agency operations. Director DeSouza transitioned to OTE from her immediate past position as the Executive Director of the Oregon Board of Optometry. Her contributions to the State of Oregon are extensive—DeSouza also served as Executive Director of the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, Public Affairs/Government Relations Manager for the Oregon Department of Corrections, Marketing/Communications Manager for Inside Oregon Enterprises/Inmate Work Programs, and Communication Manager for the Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services. She is an alumnus of Leadership Oregon, and serves as Vice Chair of the Oregon Corrections Enterprises Advisory Committee. DeSouza and her husband Peter live with their two dogs in West Salem. She enjoys gardening, landscaping, cooking, music and travel.

Annie VonDomitz, Heritage and Community Assets Manager

Annie von Domitz is our Chief Community Assets Manager. If you love Heritage Trees or Historical Markers, Annie is OTE’s Heritage Programs administrator and oversees two professional volunteer committees. Annie is the key staff person behind the French Prairie information kiosk restoration pilot. She also works with rest area advisory groups in strengthening local economic development and ensuring that community strategic objectives are integrated between our shared partners in tourism, transportation and recreation. Annie is also the administrator for the ODOT and OTE Highway Rest Area Free Coffee Program. She has been with OTE since 2004 and is a native Oregonian and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Oregon. She believes OTE is innovative, collaborative, effective, and fun.

Highway Business Sign Program

Diane Cheyne, Field Operations Division Administrator

Diane Cheyne is OTE’s Sign Operations Director. She has been part of our team since 2006 and resides in West Salem. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Communication from Corban University in Salem, Oregon. Diane enjoys helping our customers and loves the diverse nature of her job. When not busy with Field Operations, Diane likes to spend time with her family, read, and garden.

Mike Bryant, Field Operations Manager/ Construction Inspector

Mike is OTE’s field operations manager and has been with the agency since 2006. Mike oversees the daily schedule and OTE’s sign operation technicians. He helps install and maintain big blue highway and other OTE signs. Mike says he likes working for us because “it is an ever changing adventure.” Mike enjoys golfing, hunting, fishing, and everything and anything that lets him be in the outdoors.

Sue VanHandel, Business and Signs Assistant

Sue VanHandel is our business and sign assistant. She’s the first person you talk to if you’re an OTE sign customer or a new customer with questions. Sue earned her Associates of Arts degree from Chemeketa Community College. She is committed to improving her community through volunteer service; she sits on the Santiam Canyon Stampede Board and volunteers for the Sublimity Harvest Fest.

Brian Jackman, Sign Operations Technician I

Although Brian Jackman was born in Texas, we forgive him since he's spent his entire life in Oregon! Jackman attended school in Salem, and after high school graduation began working on his AA degree. His former supervisory experience kept him running three work crews at Willamette Fruit Company prior to OTE. When asked what he does in his spare time, Jackman replied "Construction. I really love working on my little house in West Salem. It's a 1940s era house that I am fully remodeling." Jackman also enjoys snowboarding, inner-tubing, and hanging out with his family's black Labrador retriever/boxer mix dog. "I've always wanted to work in public service, " said Jackman. "And I look forward to working outside on the OTE sign crew."

Josh LoBue, Sign Operations Technician I

Josh LoBue is a member of OTE’s sign crew and is a native Oregonian. He’s been on board OTE since 2007. Josh likes working for OTE because everyone has such a good sense of humor and feels like family. He enjoys his work as a sign operations technician and loves traveling across our beautiful state. Josh enjoys paintball, gaming, and growing bonsai trees. He also participates in extreme four-by-four.

Cameron Sulak, Sign Operations Technician I

“Cam” Sulak joined OTE’s sign operations crew in January 2013. “I install, maintain, and clean highway road signs and logo plaques,” says Sulak. “My favorite part of the job is traveling around and seeing Oregon.” When not busy with the rest of the sign crew, Sulak likes to ride motorcycles, snowboard, camp, and watch a good movie or two.

Josh Singleton

* Bio coming soon

Salem Administrative Staff

Jessica Carbone, Executive and HR Support

Jessica Carbone is our Executive and HR Support and oversees the very important statewide Highway Safety Rest Area Free Coffee Program. She helps local non-profit volunteers apply for permits to serve free coffee to weary motorists within OTE-managed rest areas. Except for brief stays in London and Orlando, she has always made Salem her home. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in History from Western Oregon University. Prior to her tenure with OTE, Jessica was the manager at a South Salem Starbucks store for 12 years. "I am looking forward to working with my fabulous new team, and the wonderful customers and volunteers at OTE," says Jessica. Carbone admits to being a die-hard "people person" and is proud of her husband's service as a Major in the National Guard. "Right now, my sons are my joy," says Jessica, but she also loves to read and scrap-book in her spare time. Carbone has a special interest in museum curation and history.

Luc (Lucian) Rizzo, Application Systems Analyst

Luc Rizzo is our application systems analyst and has been with OTE since 2005. He attended college at SOSC, Oregon State University, and Linn Benton Community College. He studied business computer systems and philosophy. Luc values OTE for the way staff assumes ownership of their work. “While much of our work is individual, we always still feel like a team,” Rizzo says. Luc is also a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Michelle Roth, Accountant

Michelle Roth joined us in the summer of 2013. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from George Fox University. Michelle previously worked in public accounting as an auditor before joining OTE.

Yolanda Ruiz-Simon, Accounting Technician

Yolanda Ruiz Simon enjoys helping others in the community and our customers. She joined OTE in summer 2013. Ruiz-Simon is passionate about working with the local Humane Society and their cat rescue program. “My son and I both volunteer to save cats, which we love,” says Ruiz-Simon. She’s also a determined student of accounting, and has worked the last six years to achieve new goals.

Tanner Cheyne, Accounting Clerk

Born and raised in Oregon, Tanner has been with OTE in a variety of roles since 2010. Originally a Sign Crew member, Tanner accepted a role as an Accounting Clerk after graduating from Oregon State University in 2010. He says he believes strongly in OTE’s mission and takes pride in helping travelers safely explore his beautiful home state. When he’s not at work, Tanner and his wife Brittany spend most of their time gardening, wearing flannels, and hiking with their three dogs.

Diane Welter, Accounting Manager

Diane Welter is a Certified Public Accountant and has been in the accounting field for more than 30 years. She has a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and a Master's degree in Business and Taxation from Portland State University. Welter has worked in public accounting, governmental accounting and the private sector. Her prior state agency experience includes accounting positions at Oregon State Parks and Recreation, and the Oregon Military Department. Born in Massachusetts, Welter says that she prefers Oregon over all 50 US states she has visited. Welter is married, and spends much of her leisure time shuttling her daughter to gymnastics meets, track meets and volleyball games. She also volunteers at her daughter’s school and helps with fundraising activities.

Rest area management and administration, Salem

Daphnee Legarza, Rest Area Operations Director

Daphnee has 26 years of experience in government services, including 20 years of design and construction project management and 10 years of operational management. She believe strongly in public service. Daphnee and her husband Jon relocated to Oregon from Nevada. They have two children in college and a rescue dog named Bronco. Daphnee enjoys playing competitive soccer and tennis and an occasional game of golf in her spare time.

Heather Swanson, Rest Area Operations Manager

Heather Swanson is OTE’s Rest Area Operations Manager. Swanson focuses on rest area administration, including contracts, performance measures, and purchasing. She graduated from Western Oregon University with a BS in science and geography.

Baker Valley, Charles Reynolds, Deadman Pass Rest Areas – I-84

Mark Baker, Supervisor

Although Mark Baker is not a native Oregonian, his love for the outdoors is a perfect fit for his duties as rest area supervisor. “I make sure everything runs smoothly and that the area is clean for our visitors,” says Baker. “I have a background in construction and almost 25 years in customer service management. I use that experience to make people feel welcome.” Baker wants to ensure that the rest area lives up to traveler’s expectations for a clean and orderly environment. In his leisure time, Baker and his wife spend time with their Weimaraner and participate in charity motorcycle rides.

Don Breitenstein, Baker Valley Rest Area Specialist

Don Breitenstein is responsible for the daily operation and upkeep of the Baker Valley rest area. “My goal is to make sure the traveling public has a clean and safe place to stop and rest for a few minutes or for a short nap,” says Breitenstein. “There’s also some terrific mountain views that people can enjoy while they picnic.” Breitenstein likes to spend time with his wife and friends, and is familiar with the region’s sporting areas. He hunts, fishes, camps and gardens when not helping busy travelers.

Bob Houck, Charles Reynolds Rest Area Specialist

Bob Houck enjoys meeting and helping travelers in need in the Baker Valley and Charles Reynold’s region. “I perform daily maintenance and inspections,” says Houck. “ I help motorists and visitors with their questions, concerns and needs and ensure they experience a safe and clean rest area.” When Houck is not helping the public, he enjoys coaching his children at their sporting events. He also likes to hunt, fish, and take advantage of Oregon’s great outdoor life.

Rod Ritchie, Deadman Pass Rest Area Specialist

Rod Ritchie is our new rest area specialist at Deadman Pass. "I spent one tour in the US Navy," says Ritchie. "The next 24 years were all about customer service." Ritchie is a native Eastern Oregon resident. He especially enjoys interacting with people and everything to do with the great outdoors. "I want travelers to remember their stop in positive way," says Ritchie. "When they leave the rest area I want them to say 'Wow, that was a clean well maintained place to rest and refresh.' I am truly looking forward to being part of the OTE team."

Marc Van Gorden, Deadman Pass Rest Area Specialist

Marc joined the OTE team in May 2015. "My job is to ensure traveling families have a peaceful and relaxing stop on their journey," he says. Van Gorden enjoys the great outdoors and although he admits that he was born in New York state, he's been an Oregon resident for the last 22 years. When not at work for OTE, Van Gorden likes to hunt, fish, camp and quality time with his family.

Boardman and Stanfield Rest Area Staff – I-84

Joleen Odens, Supervisor

Joleen moved to Oregon in 1979 from her home state of South Dakota. She fell in love with the Oregon scenery the minute she drove the Columbia River Gorge on State Highway 730. She worked with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) on the district landscape crew which managed three rest areas, city interchanges, and roadside spraying for all ODOT’s District 12.

Jon Tucker, Boardman and Stanfield Rest Area Specialist

Jon Tucker is a native Oregonian. He has lived, worked, and traveled across the state. Jon and his family live in Hermiston. Jon brings a passion for sports to his role as referee for girl’s basketball and as boy's baseball umpire.

Rachel Muniz, Boardman and Stanfield Rest Area Specialist

“I enjoy interacting with travelers and lending a hand to make their trip the best it can be,” says Muniz. “I hope to make Boardman rest area a desired place to stop. I find it encouraging when we get positive feedback from travelers to keep improving.” Muniz was born in upstate New York but was brought up from an early age in the Umatilla, Hermiston area. In Muniz’s free time, surrounds herself with family and friends. She and her husband make visiting a new place in Oregon each year a personal goal.

French Prairie Rest Area Staff – Wilsonville/Aurora – I-5

John Horton, Supervisor

John Horton oversees all staff and contractors at the French Prairie north and southbound rest areas and is responsible for the maintenance and inspections on the facilities to ensure the safety and enjoyment of motorists visiting the rest area. He thoroughly enjoys greeting motorists and helping them when needed. Horton is a native Oregonian and loves the outdoors. When not at work for OTE, he enjoys fishing,hunting,camping, and exploring the beautiful state of Oregon with his family.

Kory Morris, Rest Area Specialist

Kory Morris has a true affinity with public service and enjoys his job as a rest area specialist. “I love to help people out anytime I can whether it is to help them find a destination or help with a mechanical issue,” says Morris. ” I also like working with the free coffee volunteers and making their shifts as pleasant as possible.” Morris and his family appreciate most outdoor activities. He volunteers with the Canby Fire Department and has worked as an emergency room volunteer for Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin, Oregon.

Kurt Valdez, Rest Area Specialist

Kurt moved to Oregon in 1999 and acquired a contractors license. He successfully ran his own business for the last 15 years. Valdez earned an AA degree from Denver Automotive and Diesel College. “I enjoy the variety of work at French Prairie Rest Area,” says Valdez. When he is off-duty, Valdez enjoys a multitude of outdoor activities with family and friends.

Gettings Creek and Cabin Creek Rest Area Staff - I-5

Phil Dempsey, Supervisor

Phil Dempsey moved to Oregon from New Jersey in 1998. After working in law enforcement for several years, Dempsey says it was time to spend more time with his family and accepted a position with OTE. He and his wife stay busy participating in their son's athletics (football, wrestling, soccer). Dempsey and his family are also involved in community theater, and if you attend performances in the Cottage Grove area, you might catch a glimpse of them on stage.

Jason Holbrook, Gettings Creek Rest Area Specialist

Jason Holbrook is a native Oregonian and Lane Community College graduate. As a father of three, Holbrook is very involved with his children's athletics (Babe Ruth, YMCA basketball, Pop Warner). Prior to OTE, Holbrook repaired historical buildings, and landmarks and roads in several national parks, such as Crater Lake, Yosemite, and Alcatraz. He's also worked on projects for the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Parks Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and for small municipalities. "I have found that I really enjoy the diverse working conditions in our rest areas," says Holbrook. "I like greeting and helping our friendly motorists," Holbrook adds. "Each day is different, and I appreciate the mix of customer service and facilities maintenance."

Robert Fowler, Cabin Creek Rest Area Specialist

Robert Fowler comes from Eastern Oregon where he grew up farming. He helped manage and maintain over 2,000 acres of wheat and 100 acres of irrigated alfalfa along with the equipment and buildings. In later years, he owned and operated a hardware store and a small bar and market in the town of Helix. After that he went into construction before stepping in as head of maintenance for Cayuse Technologies in Pendleton, Or. Robert has enjoyed restoring cars, scuba diving, flying planes and riding motorcycles. He is currently dabbling in pottery and lapidary/jewelry. He is happy to come work for OTE where he has the opportunity to use his various skills and be closer to his family and grandchildren.

Government Camp Rest Area – Government Camp, Oregon and Memaloose Rest Area - I -84

John Garmon, Supervisor

John Garmon is the rest area supervisor at OTE’s Government Camp and Memaloose Rest Areas. Garmon performs maintenance on the chalet-styled Mt Hood restroom and motorist shelter. Garmon says that his favorite part of the job is sharing his knowledge about where to go and what to do in nearby Mt Hood towns. Thanks to his 13 years of living on Mt Hood, Garmon is well acquainted with its geography and will point the way to local hiking trails.

Barry Reed, Government Camp Rest Area Specialist

Barry Reed is Government Camp’s rest area specialist. “My main objective is to be sure the visitors are happy. I strive to keep the premises and the bathrooms clean and well stocked,” said Reed. Reed’s background includes employment as a K-9 police officer and a FEMA disaster inspector. “My favorite part of the job is talking to the people, finding out where they are from and where they may be going,” said Reed.

Zach Kellogg, Memaloose Rest Area Specialist

“Coming from a parks background, I enjoy the diversity of what the job entails,” says Kellogg. “Working outside and interacting with the travelers that stop by to use the facilities, and assisting the supervisor in any way I can. I grew up in the area and enjoy all the fruits mother nature has to offer.”

Manzanita and Suncrest Rest Areas – I-5

Kevin Smolich, Supervisor

Kevin Smolich is a rest area supervisor overseeing two I-5 rest areas. Kevin has been with OTE since January, 2010. He lives in Grants Pass and attended Glendale College, majoring in general contracting. Kevin likes working at OTE because he appreciates his co-workers. He thinks it is terrific that everyone is willing to help each other and values the team work. Kevin also enjoys camping and all kinds of off-road activities.

Andrew Nonnenmacher, Manzanita Rest Area Specialist

“Andy” is married with two teenage boys and is originally from Southeastern Washington. After an Oregon vacation, the family fell in love with Oregon and made it their new home. “I enjoy speaking with the traveling public about the natural beauty and friendly atmosphere of Josephine County,” says Nonnenmacher. He also looks forward to meeting everyone’s pets and his work in the great outdoors. “I’m dedicated to giving travelers the best experience possible by staying safety conscious and keeping the rest area clean through hard work,” adds Nonnenmacher. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, camping with the family, and training his two new rescue dogs.

Michael Mits, Suncrest Rest Area Specialist

Mits moved to the US from Australia five years ago. "I’ve had the opportunity to visit over half of the US, and Oregon is one of my favorites! I really enjoy the people, landscape and environment here." Mits' experience in the building and maintenance industry, beef and dairy farms, and his 22 years in law enforcement translate well into his responsibilities at Suncrest Rest Area. Mits and his family recently moved to Oregon from Utah to help support his wife's career advancement. "My job satisfaction comes from knowing that I’m making a difference for the better in other people's lives," Mits says."I have a passion for the outdoors and I look forward to exploring new Oregon camping grounds and fishing holes."

Ontario and Weatherby Rest Area Staff – I-84

David Patton, Supervisor

David Patton has over 30 years of transportation experience with the Oregon Dept. of Transportation. Patton ensures OTE rest areas remain safe and clean. He is onsite to ensure the public finds clean and welcoming facilities, answer traveler questions and provide emergency motorist assistance.

Norm Nelson, Weatherby Rest Area Specialist

Norm Nelson is a native Oregonian and is OTE’s Weatherby rest area specialist. Nelson majored in business administration at Seattle Pacific College in Seattle, Washington. “I enjoy meeting travelers and finding out where they are going and where they are from,” said Nelson. “I enjoy keeping the rest area looking good and enjoy the compliments we receive on how nice it is.”

Jeff Wherry, Ontario Rest Area Specialist

Jeff Wherry is Ontario rest area’s specialist. His background is in construction and maintenance. Jeff attended Boise State College and has been active in his community, serving as past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and the School Board. “I enjoy working in a close knit employee oriented environment,” says Wherry.

Santiam and Oak Grove Rest Areas – I-5 Oregon

Shawn White, Supervisor

Shawn White is the Santiam and Oak Grove rest areas main supervisor. He is responsible for the safety and cleanliness of both the north and southbound Santiam and Oak Grove locations. White ensures that all maintenance projects are completed and coordinates any landscaping projects which are necessary to maintain the grounds for public use. White is very much a “people person” and invites feedback about the facilities from motorists. Santiam rest area is located slightly north of Albany, Oregon, while Oak Grove is located north of Eugene.

Josh Flores, Santiam Rest Area Specialist

Josh Flores worked his way up through the OTE ranks from his prior position as an OTE sign technician to his present status as rest area specialist. Flores is responsible for helping maintain a safe and relaxing atmosphere for all motorists to enjoy. He is a native Oregonian that loves working outdoors. Flores earned his general contractors license in 2007. “I look forward to using my experience in the building trade to help improve and maintain our beautiful and ever-changing rest areas,” says Flores.

John Williams, Oak Grove Rest Area Specialist

John Williams was born and raised in the Willamette Valley. He served in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman. After being honorably discharged, he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail---a total of 2,650 miles from Campo, California to Manning Park, British Columbia. Williams is a 2015 graduate of Oregon State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Resource Management. Prior to his tenure with OTE, he worked for the US Forest Service as a Recreation Technician in the Detroit Ranger District at Willamette National Forest. Williams says that his favorite aspect of being a Rest Area Specialist is helping motorists explore our state. He is also an author of a hiking, camping, and outdoor-activities blog.

Tillamook Rest Area – Tillamook, Oregon

David Schrom, Supervisor

Dave Schrom is Tillamook’s rest area supervisor. Schrom maintains Tillamook’s park-like atmosphere and shares his knowledge with visiting motorists traveling the coast. “I gain satisfaction hearing how welcome the improvements we have made at the rest area are, and that our motorists appreciate having a clean and safe place to stop and relax,” says Schrom.

Ron Tonski, Tillamook Rest Area Specialist

Ron Tonski is Tillamook’s rest area’s specialist. He moved to the Tillamook area in 2004 from north Sacramento County. A volunteer firefighter for 15 years, Ron also is retired from the US Air Force Reserves. “I have found it very rewarding that traveler’s will stop out of their busy schedule and take time to tell me how much they appreciate the clean and beautiful rest area,” Tonski says. In his spare time, Tonski likes to spend time with his grandchildren, and help his wife and step-daughter with whatever they need at their new business, "La Tea Da Tea Room" in Tillamook.