Morganton -It's a friendly competition where inches and instincts make a difference on the scorecard, as participants maneuver large machinery on the course. When the challenge ends,everyone's achampion.
One hundred workers with the North Carolina Department of Transportation took part in the Division 13 Roadeo in Burke County this week. Competitions include maneuvering golf balls with backhoes, navigating tractors and trucks through obstacle courses, and parallel parking challenges.
"Everyone's a winner for taking part and enriching their safety skills," said Jay Swain, NCDOT Division 13 Engineer. "This is a great opportunity to learn from each other, and focus on the most important part of what we do."
The Roadeo requires competitors to display safety skills used every day on their jobs. Motor grader operators skillfully navigate a course trying to knock over tennis balls, but not the posts they're perched on. "Some of the balls are 6 inches off the ground, others are ten," explained Burke County maintenance worker Dusty Keller. "You need those skills when you're machining a road and the ground isn't perfectly level."
Working in the mountains can bring its own unique challenges. "Many roads have narrow shoulders and tight turning spaces," said safety officer Walt Russell. "If you're driving a big piece of machinery, you have to be able to getit in place and park it with little room to maneuver.Good driving skills are at a premium."
Competitors took part from across Division 13, which includes Buncombe, Burke, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Rutherford, and Yancey counties. First place winners are:
Everette Ray, Mitchell County: tandem axle dump truck
Skyler Ramsey, Burke County: tractor/mower
Donnie Dockery, McDowell County: tractor lowboy
Antawan Boyce, McDowell County: motor grader
Jeff Buchanan, Burke County: backhoe
Benjie Caldwell, Madison County: single axle truck
They will compete with winners from NCDOT's other 13 divisions at the statewide competition July 21 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. To see more photos of the Division 13 Roadeo, visit the NCDOT Flickr gallery.
(front row, winners l to r:) Skyler Ramsey, Everette Ray, Donnie Dockery, Antawan Boyce
(back row:) Division 13 Engineer Jay Swain, Safety Officer Walt Russell
(l to r:) Division 13 Engineer Jay Swain, winners Jeff Buchanan and Benjie Caldwell, Safety Officer Walt Russell