WATERTOWN, S.D (KELO) — If you cross paths with a South Dakota plow, you may notice some of them have names.
It’s all a part of the Department of Transportation’s snowplow naming contest.
As a kickoff to this season’s event, Governor Kristi Noem named the state’s official 2021-2022 plow in honor of a Watertown man.
Just over two years ago, hundreds of tow trucks and first responders lined up to pay their final respects to Dale Jones.
The 47-year-old tow truck operator was on the side of the road helping someone who’s car had slid into the ditch when he was struck by another driver.
Dale’s son and daughter remember their father as a people person and someone who was dedicated to his job.
“He was just always on call. All our lives he was running, running, running 24/7 with the tow trucks,” Dale’s daughter Jessica Jones said.
“It seems like everybody has a story about how he towed their car once or he jumpstarted their car one day when it was 20 below or something like that,” Dale’s son Doug Jones said.
Dale’s son says his father worked in the towing industry for 27 years.
Over the decades he crossed paths with first responders through his work, including Captain Kirk Ellis with the Watertown Police Department.
“Everybody knew Dale was this large individual that was full of life and had a great laugh and I think that’s why so many people were touched by Dale and his story,” Capt. Kirk Ellis said.
Now, you’ll find his name on the windshield of a South Dakota DOT plow.
“I thought it was really awesome, a good way to honor dad,” Jessica Jones said.
Much like Dale, the plow and its driver Brian Burke help people in the area.
“We’re out there to do the same thing, try to keep the roads safe and make sure the traveling public is,” SDDOT highway maintenance worker Brian Burke said.
In fact, Dale’s brother-in-law Stacy DeBoer just recently saw it working on the roads.
“I pointed it out. I told the wife, ‘There’s Dale,'” Dale’s brother-in-law Stacy DeBoer said.
It’s equipped with a variety of technology, including cameras, a blue light to increase visibility, and a system that helps drivers tackle the winter roads.
“As I’m driving down the road it can give me recommendations on what to do from salting, how much salt to use, how much salt/brine it recommends. It can give me live radar, future scans, forecasting, what the weather’s going to do,” Burke said.
Volk: What do you think Dale would say about seeing his name on there?
DeBoer: He’d laugh.
“I think he would think that was pretty cool. I think he’d think, ‘Oh, you didn’t have to do that.’ He would think it was awesome” Jessica Jones said.
As the years go by since Dale’s death, his family continues to spread safety awareness.
“Slow down and move over. That’s what we’ve been preaching since dad has been gone, and that’s what I’ll continue to preach forever,” Jessica Jones said.
And perhaps this tribute is one more way to help drive that message home.
Earlier this month, the DOT announced the winning names of the contest.
Some of the winners include Blizzard of Oz and Snow Problemo.
Click here to read the full list.