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Lt. Gov. Gilchrist and "Tiger" the snowplow visit Fair Plain East Elementary students in Benton Harbor
March 8, 2021 -- Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist visited Roxane Gilbert's fifth grade class at Fair Plain East Elementary Monday morning to share the snowplow "Tiger" with the students who named it as part of the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) #NameMISnowplow program. A video news release of the visit is available on MDOT's YouTube channel.
When MDOT in January asked the public to suggest names for the department's 332 plows, it was Gilbert's students in the Benton Harbor school who offered the school mascot, Tiger, as the first moniker attached to any MDOT plow.
On Monday, the class got to meet the new Tiger, one of the operators who drives the snowplow, the lieutenant governor, and other MDOT employees during a school visit. During the visit, the students had a chance to sit in the plow, learn how it works, and even learn about other jobs within the transportation department.
"It is awesome. The kids were super excited about it. I had them teach me some things about how the snowplow works," Gilchrist said. "I just think the exposure the department is giving the children about the types of careers and the people, the professionals, that take care of them, take care of the community every day, this kind of connection and relationship, it's really beautiful."
Gilchrist praised MDOT maintenance workers who keep state highways open and operating through adverse weather and even a pandemic to keep motorists safe and the state's economy functioning.
"Thank you. This has literally kept the state of Michigan going," he said. "I am so thankful and proud and humbled to serve alongside these professionals."
Gilbert said her students were excited when they were asked to select names for a plow, but she understands the relationship goes deeper than a fun name on a machine. She said it helps humanize one of the most important groups of people in MDOT and the jobs they do, maintenance workers, highlighting the importance of their safety and the vital work they perform every day for Michigan families and visitors.
"I want to thank MDOT especially because without them we wouldn't be able to travel," Gilbert said. "They're out there working very hard, long hours, time away from their family, to sacrifice for us to be with our family at all times."