WILSON – Almost 100 state highway workers in Division 4 honed their skills operating heavy equipment in a friendly competition this week in Wilson.
They participated in the Equipment Operator Training Conference at the Wilson County maintenance yard for the N.C. Department of Transportation. The employees work in Division 4, which is based in Wilson and also covers Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash and Wayne counties.
They navigated large trucks and other equipment, such as motor graders and cranes, through several obstacle courses that required deft precision. One of the competitions involved an operator who manipulated the arm and boom of a backhoe tractor to drop golf balls into a tube.
The annual event, which informally is known as a “roadeo", is meant to sharpen the employees' driving skills in a controlled environment away from public traffic, so they can more safely operate the heavy machinery in real conditions throughout the year. They also compete among one another based on how they score doing each event.
Several units of Division 4 were involved in making this year's event a success, and Melvin Mitchell, the area's representative on the N.C. Board of Transportation, joined Division 4 Engineer Keith Eason in addressing and observing the employees at the event on Wednesday.
The winners from each event will represent Division 4 at the statewide conference in Raleigh June 20-21:
- Lowboy Truck Exercise: Wayne Boone, Wayne Maintenance
- Single Axle Truck Exercise: Cliff Jenkins*, Wilson Maintenance
- Motor Grader Truck Exercise: Dan Evans, Nash Maintenance
- Tractor- Mower Exercise: Marvin Jones, Nash Maintenance
- Backhoe Exercise: Cliff Jenkins, Wilson Maintenance
- Tandem Axle Truck Exercise: Jackson Waddell, Wilson Maintenance
- Boom Truck (Crane) Exercise: James Holmes, Johnston Bridge
- Traffic Services Exercise: Wesley Johnson, Division 4 Traffic Services
*Note: Thomas Deloach, second place in the Single Axle Truck Exercise, will compete at the state conference in place of Jenkins.