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Employee Spotlight
Craig Johnson: District 8 Bridge Mechanic

Craig Johnson spends most of his days working on the Joe Page Bridge, recently though he spent some time under the sea.

Johnson has been with the department for six years, with a focus on bridge work. Born and raised in Hardin, he continues to reside in his hometown and regularly contributes to his community. He has even volunteered his time and talents to be King Triton in the Calhoun County Theater’s production of “The Little Mermaid” – a local production that wouldn’t have happened if not for volunteers like Johnson.

Here are some of Johnson’s thoughts about his job and life outside of IDOT.

Q. Could you tell me a little bit about what your current job entails?

A. Electrical and mechanical mainte­nance and lubrication of Joe Page Bridge (Illinois 16/100) as well as maintaining electri­cal, navigational and aviation lighting for eight other bridges in District 8.

Q. What’s the most important impact of your work?

A. Keeping the bridges safe for commuter and river traffic alike.

Q. What’s your favorite part of the job?

A. The interactions I get to have with the workers from the bridge, ferries and local maintenance yards as well as bridge crew.

Q. Anything to tell us about your department and what it does?

A. With Calhoun County being a peninsula, the Joe Page Bridge is a lifeline for the residents of the county to get in and out, especially when the rivers are frozen and the ferries have to shut down for ice. The bridge is the only way out without going way north. Keeping it operating safely for them, and for all the river traffic heading north and south, are my main concern.

Q. What education, experience or special training has prepared you for your current role?

A. I have a two-year degree from Ran­ken Technical College in St. Louis. I’ve also been a ground equipment mechanic for the Air Force and Air National Guard for over 21 years.

Q. Beyond your regular work duties, what do you do to contribute to your profession or community?

A. I am an active member in my local American Legion post, Knights of Co­lumbus council, local pool board and Hardin Village board, among others.

Q. What do you like to do outside the office?

A. I like to go camping with my family and hang with friends.

Q. We heard you’ve been involved with your local community theater and participated in “The Little Mer­maid.” How did you get involved?

A. I’ve been involved in the organization since 2010. My dad passed away suddenly the year before at 55. I played a small part in “Bye Bye Birdie” – a role that would have gone to my dad. He had always wanted me to be a part of the group, and I never made the time. It helps me to stay close to him and help keep his memory alive. The group established a scholarship in his name the following year. I have either been backstage or onstage for each musical since then (we do one a year) except for the year I was activated and sent overseas.

Q. Was it a musical?

A. That is correct, it is a musical and not a play, and while I don’t sing well and being on stage is not exactly in my comfort zone, I will fill any role that is needed of me to make sure we have a good production. I prefer to be backstage during the shows, moving sets and making sure things go off without a hitch.

Q. Do you have a background in theater or music?

A. I do not. We are a small community and without this organization there would be almost no outlet for the arts and for the young people around here to be able to show or grow their talents. We have some amazing young individuals in this organization.

Q. What did your family and friends think of you playing King Triton?

A. My family and friends are very supportive of me and most of them were able to catch a show.

Q. Will you continue to participate in the theater?

A. I will. I hope to be backstage more again. That’s where I’m much more comfortable. The amount of work that goes into the set building, painting, etc., is extensive and is an area where I am much more useful.