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Mississippi DOT Workers Test Heavy Equipment Skills

Wed April 25, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Maybelle G. Cagle

Heavy equipment operators from the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Newton District competed April 10 at the annual district “Roadeo” for the chance to advance to the state finals.

Various categories of competition were lowboy truck and trailer, single axle dump truck with utility trailer, backhoe, tandem axle dump truck, tractor bushhog and motor patrol.

State finals are May 31 at Paul Battle Arena in Tunica. MDOT’s seven districts will complete their competitions by early May. The Roadeo began 10 years ago.

First- and second-place winners in district competitions go to state finals.

First and second place winners from the state finals go to the regional competition this fall in North Carolina.

Probably the most difficult competition categories involve the backhoe, according to Mark McConnell, who coordinated the Newton District Roadeo.

“The task of picking up a golf ball out of a sand box with a washer connected to the bucket of a backhoe is very difficult and takes a great deal of concentration,” said McConnell, also MDOT’s assistant state maintenance engineer.

Wade Cooksey, a heavy equipment operator from Newton, Miss., was among the top scorers in the category. He said the competition involves picking up three golf balls individually and putting them in cans as “fast as possible.”

“The Roadeo competition is another way of advancing employee skills in their careers. With consistent practice for the competition and the operators’ day-to-day job, this event is a skill builder for them,” said McConnell.

Winners in the backhoe competition (which used a New Holland LB 758) were: Cooksey, 37.9 seconds; David Rutledge, 38.8 seconds; and Robert Lee, 38.9 seconds.

Other winners and their respective scores were:

• Lowboy trucks: Mims Gregory, 155; Stanley Thorne, 155; and Cooksey, 150.

• Single axle dump truck: Cooksey, 170; Hank Graham, 155; and Wesley Wiltcher, 150.

• Tandem axle dump truck: Samuel Clark, 200; Wayne Williams, 200; and Tim Jones, 195.

• Motorgrader: Ronnie Lofton, 290; Wayne Loper, 290; and Hank Graham, 290.

• Tractor bushhog: Samuel Clark, 280; Robert Fulton, 280; and Tommy Perkins, 270.

MDOT Executive Director Larry L. “Butch” Brown said, “The Roadeo competition is an event the operators take seriously. Over the last couple of years, participants have shown a true interest in demonstrating their skills and practicing extreme safety measures while engaging in the competition. It’s really a challenge for the operators to participate in this competition which requires a great deal of concentration, proficiency and skill.” CEG

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