Sat, 10/03/2015 - 22:57 -- mbowenLynden Transport Driver John Schank, who received a letter of commendation for 37 years of accident-free driving over one of the most treacherous roads in America, the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, will have a special assignment this year.
He will be taking a Christmas tree to Washington, D. C.
The 2014 Alaska Truck Driver of the Year will haul an evergreen from the Chugach National Forest that will serve as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, the first time a tree from Alaska has had the honor, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Thousands of ornaments for "the People's Tree" and smaller trees in government offices in Washington, D.C., will be made by schoolchildren around Alaska.
Senator Lisa Murkowski took to Twitter to share the news and was quoted in the Forest Service's press release as saying, "Countless Alaskans have cut down their own Christmas tree(s) from the Chugach over the years, and I'm glad that the U.S. Capitol is following suit. ... This is truly a well-deserved recognition for Alaskans to be proud of."
The tradition of placing a Christmas tree on the west lawn of the Capitol during the holiday season began in 1964, and since 1970, a different national forest has been selected to provide the tree each year. The 2014 tree came from Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest and made appearances all over Minnesota and the Midwest before arriving in Washington. The Forest Service said it will work with Senator Murkowski to schedule "events and community collaboration across Alaska."
Schank began driving for Lynden Transport in 1975 delivering essential supplies and materials for the Alaska pipeline construction. He has the highest number of miles on the Dalton Highway of any driver in history. He began his 37-year career with Lynden driving the Dalton haul road and continues that route today.