EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT ON DENNIS STUBBLEFIELD
Dedicated to Safety On and Off the Job
When he and his crews are not busy plowing heavy snow, repairing freeways and keeping the California highway system safe for the motoring public, Dennis Stubblefield, Maintenance Leadworker in Lebec (part of Caltrans north region), is busy making the region a safer place for countless others. “Dennis’ entire career has been devoted to safety, not just on the job, but off the job as well through his volunteer work,” said Maintenance Supervisor Lee Benjamin.
In addition to his work at Caltrans, Stubblefield is also a proud and active member of a volunteer search and rescue team, which he joined in 1984. For over 20 years, he and his team have performed search and rescue operations on plane crashes, and have helped locate lost hunters and others who came to play in the snow. “It is our job to bring people back to their families,” said Stubblefield. Plane crashes, he explained, are understandably difficult and unfortunately very often there are no survivors. “We’ve had only one plane crash survivor, but many snow enthusiasts, hikers and hunters have been rescued by our team during the time I have been involved,” he said.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Department provides his volunteer team with training and support, but he noted that, “The team is responsible for raising all of its own money for equipment and upkeep.” Stubblefield has attended search and rescue training as far away as Reno, Nevada.
On the job, you might say that working for Caltrans has been all in the family for Stubblefield. Following closely in the footsteps of his father, Jim Stubblefield, he began his career at Caltrans in 1975 in North Hollywood and has been a dedicated public servant ever since, working for over five supervisors at the Lebec Maintenance yard. “I’ve been with the state my entire life,” said the career employee. “My father worked for Division of Highways until 1981 and we lived in Indio, El Centro , Brawley, Buellton and Long Beach. Moving around was covered in my younger years!”
In 1977, Stubblefield moved up to the beautiful and picturesque mountain community of Frazier Park near Lebec in north Los Angeles County and he has never left since. After the move, Stubblefield promoted to Equipment Operator a year later and then to Heavy Equipment Operator in 1979. Each winter the roadways are covered with snow, making his work at times difficult and challenging. "Dennis has been an invaluable member of the Lebec crew," added Benjamin. "He is hard-working, dedicated and knowledgeable about his work.”
Stubblefield was already married when he moved to Frazier Park and raised three children “here on the hill” that he calls home. “Two of my kids were bussed to Bakersfield for High School, and the youngest attended the newly built “high school on the hill,” he said.
Stubblefield’s many years of highway maintenance expertise prepared him well for the severe weather which Caltrans snow crews face in the higher elevations, such as along State Route 2 above Altadena and in Gorman and Frazier Park along the famous Interstate 5 “Grapevine.” “I was here for the windstorms of 1977 and the mudslides of 1978, both of which closed the roadway for a few days,” he said. “Back in those days we had real snow storms where we got a couple of feet at a time.” And with sadness he recalls Donald Beasley, a co-worker who was killed while in the line of duty.
When he’s not busy at work or volunteering and helping others, his favorite pastimes are fishing and spending time with his family, which he has combined into one pastime called “family fishing time.” “We go to Cabo San Lucas each year and I take many overnighters and some day trips,” he said. “Convict Lake is my favorite fresh water spot to fish and I spend as much time in that area as I can.” His kids are all grown up now. One daughter is married and his youngest daughter is planning a wedding this year. His son lives across from he and his wife, who is a two-time cancer survivor.
Stubblefield says he is looking forward to retirement, but also looks fondly back at the many years he has spent with his Maintenance co-workers, and search and rescue volunteers. He said, “My life has been blessed up here on the hill working with many of my crew members for over 25 years.”