CLYDE – The final employee to sit behind the steering wheel and controls of a motorgrader on Thursday wore the biggest hat.
As the Division Engineer, Wanda Austin couldn’t participate as a contestant in the Division 14 Equipment Operators Safety Training Conference. But she certainly displayed her deft skills on the big machine by sweeping all but two tennis balls from their perch with the blade.
Clad in a wide-brim black hat, she would have placed in the top three.
More than 120 employees from Division 14 participated in the N.C. Department of Transportation conference at the Haywood County maintenance yard on Tuesday and Wednesday.
They displayed their skills on the same equipment — dump trucks, lowboy trucks, tractor mowers, cranes, motorgraders and backhoes — they use every day to maintain more than 10,000 lane miles across the 10 westernmost counties in the state.
The goals of the safety conference include helping employees improve their skills with an emphasis on safety while operating heavy machinery. The competition also fosters team spirit within individual units and across the division while recognizing employees who excel at their jobs.
Winners from each event will represent Division 14 — Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Polk, Swain, Transylvania counties — at the State Equipment Operators Safety Training Conference in Raleigh on June 21.
• Tandem Axle Truck Exercise: Michael Beasley, Haywood Maintenance
• Lowboy Truck Exercise: Rudi Ulrich, Haywood Maintenance
• Motorgrader Exercise: Garrett Parker, Jackson Maintenance
• Tractor Mower Exercise: Jason Brown, Macon Maintenance
• Backhoe Exercise: Jason Ball, Haywood Maintenance
• Crane Exercise: Larry Flowers, Cherokee Bridge
• Single Axle Truck Exercise: Jason Herron, Macon Maintenance