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Rowan County Highway Crew Earns Top Honors At Roadeo Olympics

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Kentucky Department of Transportation, District 9
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Nine state highway crew members from Mason, Fleming, Nicholas, Carter and Rowan counties earned medals this week in Kentucky Department of Highways District 9’s Equipment Operators Safety and Training ‘Roadeo’ – the Olympics of northeast Kentucky’s road workers.

Tallying scores from all events, Nick Clark of Nicholas County maintenance and Duane Dehart of Rowan County maintenance earned enough points to take home overall individual champion trophies in this year’s roadeo.

And Rowan County’s maintenance crew repeated last year’s victory – scoring the most points to take home the overall crew trophy. Mason County maintenance placed second.

The annual competition – a part of the Transportation Cabinet’s safety and training programs – brings together highway equipment operators from the district’s county maintenance facilities for a day of friendly competition and fellowship, and provides an opportunity for operators to hear safety talks and showcase their skills while training for culvert pipe replacements, mowing, snow removal and other road work.

During individual events, held Wednesday, June 25, at Maysville, the following crew members received first, second and third place medals:

TRUCK AND PLOW ROAD COURSE

Gold: Greg Shaffer, Carter County

Silver: Duane DeHart, Rowan County

Bronze: Glenn Bell, Mason County

TRACTOR MOWER COMPETITION

Gold: Ronnie Thompson, Fleming County

Silver: Randy Hawkins, Fleming County structures

Bronze: Todd Myers, Nicholas County

GRADER COURSE

Gold: Glenn Bell, Mason County

Silver: Bryon Mitchell, Fleming County

Bronze: Todd Plank, Rowan County

BACKHOE CHALLENGE

Gold: Nick Clark, Nicholas County

Silver: Bryon Mitchell, Fleming County

Bronze: Ronnie Thompson, Fleming County

Roadeos, which are open to any Transportation Cabinet employee who has a commercial driver’s license, take place in highway districts throughout Kentucky.

Highway equipment operators gather for safety talks and training, and compete among their peers in four skill contests that simulate actual situations they might encounter in the performance of their duties:

Truck and Plow Road Course, which tests an operator’s precision driving techniques as they negotiate a truck with an attached snow plow blade through a tight turn in a confined space and maneuver through a lane to avoid hitting obstacles that mimic conditions encountered while plowing snow from roadways.

Grader Course, which tests operators’ proficiency using a grader to evenly spread gravel, asphalt and other materials on roadways.

Backhoe Challenge, which tests an operator’s ability to maneuver the hoe bucket in tight quarters around culverts or other drainage structures. Competitors must move golf balls around obstacles using a special hoe attachment.

Tractor Mower Competition, which includes a road obstacle course to test operators’ ability using mowers in confined spaces encountered along roadsides.

“It requires expertise to properly operate snow plows, end loaders, graders and other equipment,” said Bart Bryant, District 9’s chief engineer. “These competitions showcase the high level of skill and professionalism that our crew members exhibit each day in keeping the state’s highways maintained.”

More than 50 highway equipment operators competed at District 9’s roadeo. Top finishers advance to the state finals to compete against equipment operators from the Transportation Cabinet’s 11 other highway districts.

Paul Hitchcock earned his Masters in Communications from Morehead State University and Bachelors in Radio-TV/Psychology from Georgetown College. A veteran broadcaster for more than 40 years and an avid fan of blues, jazz and American roots music. Hitchcock has been with WMKY since 1986 and was named General Manager in 2003. He currently hosts "Muddy Bottom Blues" (Fri., 8pm-9pm), "Nothin' But The Blues" (Sat., 8pm-12am), "Sunday Night Jazz Showcase" and "Live From The Jazz Lounge" (Sun., 8pm-9pm) and "The Golden Age of Radio" (Sun., 2pm-3pm). He also serves as producer for "A Time For Tales" and "The Reader's Notebook."
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