Drivers will compete in skills competition

Jul. 22, 2013 @ 06:27 PM

Two drivers from Granville County with the Department of Transportation are heading to the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh Wednesday having earned top spots in the annual N.C. DOT Equipment Operators’ “Roadeo.”

According to Greg Roberts, the safety engineer for Division 5 and helping organize the division team, Granville-based Michael Loftis represents them in the tandem axle dump truck competition and Gerald Ellison in the motor grader event.

Loftis and Ellison are among six representing Division 5, which includes Vance, Warren, Granville, Franklin, Person, Durham and Wake counties.

The competition, starting at 9:30 a.m., is an opportunity for transportation department friends and family, plus any from the public in attendance, to see a demonstration of their focus on advanced skills, the importance of heavy equipment safety and team spirit.

It also recognizes employees who excel at their jobs, according to NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott.

“Each division had a rodeo competition a couple months ago,” Abbott said. “The top six from each division advanced. A total of 84 competitors are matched up for Wednesday.”

It is a showcase of their individual skills in the operation of heavy equipment that include the categories of the single axle dump truck, lowboy truck/trailer, the backhoe and tractor/mower in addition to the tandem axle and the motor grader categories that Loftis and Ellison in which are competing.

Events include operational components such as backing up, maneuvering around six set obstacles, locating safety defects and other situations that are reminiscent of their actual daily tasks.

Abbott said last year’s state title went to the western part of the state to Division 14, comprised of the counties of Polk, Henderson, Transylvania, Jackson, Macon, Clay, Cherokee, Graham, Swain and Haywood.

The winners and runners-up in each category will also represent North Carolina in the Southeastern Regional competition to be held this September in Kentucky.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.