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GOLDSBORO — Two Johnston County state transportation employees were winners in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s annual “Safety Roadeo” held for three days last week.
Donnie Taylor, a Johnston County bridge maintenance crew member, received the highest score for operating a single-axle dump truck. Another Johnston County maintenance crew member, Kyle Sanders, earned the highest safety rating for operating the tandem-axle dump truck.
Wilson County took two top prizes. Maintenance crew member Clifton Jenkins won first place for backhoe operator and Wayne Boone, a heavy operation crew member, won first place for lowboy truck trailer operation.
Two Nash County maintenance crew members received top honors. They are Marshal New for operating the tractor mower and Dan Evans for the motor grader.
Wayne County maintenance crew member John Barefoot received the highest marks for operating a crane.
More than 100 NCDOT employees sharpened their techniques maneuvering heavy equipment around obstacles during last week’s training exercise.
The 110 employees hailed mostly from the maintenance and bridge offices for Highway Division 4, which covers Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Wayne and Wilson counties.
The annual “roadeo” is a friendly competition meant to hone the employees’ driving and operating skills so they are better prepared using heavy equipment in real situations.
“This is another training tool for our workers, and to maybe show off a little bit behind the wheel of some very big equipment,” Deborah Leonard, the Division 4 safety engineer who oversees the roadeo, said in a news release. “We look forward to doing this every year.”
For three days last week, they steered dump trucks and tractor mowers around orange cones and glided motor graders that plucked tennis balls off tiny posts. In another category, they operated the arm and boom of a backhoe tractor to drop golf balls into a tube. Judges watched and scored the drivers’ progress, deducting points when they made a mistake or hit a cone. They also awarded points when drivers performed well in a category.
Gus Tulloss, the Division 4 representative on the N.C. Board of Transportation, announced the winners during the final day of competition on Thursday.
Division 4 Engineer Ronnie Keeter and Tim Little, the department’s chief engineer, were present to recognize the winners and other participants..
The department’s other highway divisions will hold their safety roadeos this spring, and the winners will compete for the state championship in Raleigh in June.