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Employee Spotlight: Denise Lampe, District 8 Plats and Plans Technician

IDOT Blog – Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Plats and Plans Technician Denise Lampe started working at IDOT in 2017 as a personnel services technician in the Bureau of Personnel Management performing and assisting with new employee orientations, payroll, health insurance and benefits, interviews and retirements. In 2019, she interviewed for a job outside her comfort zone and has been in the Land Acquisition Unit as a plats and plans technician ever since.

Here are some of her thoughts about her job and life outside of IDOT.

Talk about your current role?

There are many active jobs within the Land Acquisition Unit and many steps within each job that all need to keep moving forward. My supervisor likes to tell us that we need to “keep all our plates spinning.” My “plates” include assisting professional land surveyors, appraisers and negotiators with the acquisition and disposal of right-of-way property along state routes.

A large portion of my time is spent researching existing right-of-way documents, deeds and plats at the district office, various county recording offices and other governmental agencies, as well as preparing and distributing consolidated research files in response to public and in-house requests for right-of-way information.

In addition, I am responsible for ordering titles and recording deeds, easements, excess parcels, plats of highways and existing right-of-way at the county recorders’ offices, scanning and filing recorded documents and plats in our “library” of paper originals and electronic copies, reviewing billing invoices and submitting for payment, creating large maps of project limits and parcels for ease of tracking receipt of titles and assisting with the rollout and revision of a new web-based land acquisition management system.

Most important impact of your work?

Gathering the most accurate and up-to-date information about landownership and existing right-of-way lines for current and future projects. Before any IDOT employee or consultant walks on property, or puts equipment on property, we need to be confident we have the rights and permissions to be there.

Favorite part of the job?

Initially, I was super nervous about handling right-of-way research requests from outside consultants and utility companies because there are so many layers of current and historical information to research, and it was hard to know if I had been thorough enough to provide all the relevant information. However, after handling 300 to 500 requests a year, it is now my favorite thing to do. I love being able to tackle assignments that have a shorter turnaround time, which allows me to cross items off my “to-do” list and gives me a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Anything to highlight?

One of the main functions of the Land Acquisition Unit is to maintain current records of all properties affected or potentially affected by construction, resurfacing of highways or relocation of highways.

The current hot project in 2023 is the release of the new web-based land acquisition management system. It replaces the old land acquisition system database, which was housed on a mainframe that became inactive earlier this year.

It has been a bumpy transition to using the new system, but the customization to meet IDOT’s acquisition and payment needs, and eventual flexibility in generating inventory and timeline reports, will hopefully pay off in the long run.

What prepared you for your current role?

I think my previous work experiences and some of my hobbies were more helpful with acclimating to this job than my education. Having experience with accounts payable, payroll systems and spreadsheets provided easily transferable skills. My personal use of Photoshop was also very useful for learning the features and shortcuts available in Adobe Pro, which I use every day. And my love of puzzling unexpect¬edly helped with organizing smaller plats into larger project limit maps and navigating location software.

What do you like to do outside the office?

In my off hours, I like to play with my grandchildren, golf, bowl, do photography, work on puzzles, watch movies, and take vacations to new places where I can try new activities and foods.

I also enjoy researching memes, puns, and silly dad jokes to add to my daily chuckle inventory. A good sense of humor is an escape valve for the pressures of life. If I can make one person smile, then I know it was worth getting out of bed that day.