Equipment operators essential to public works operations
Over the past several months, as part of my chapter visits, I have had the opportunity to observe equipment operators at equipment shows and rodeos. One thing that has stood out at all the shows is the proficiency and dedication of equipment operators. As I talked with operators and observed their operation of equipment, it was obvious how serious they are about the job that they do. I was constantly amazed at how skillfully large and complex equipment could be operated and the obvious pride in its operation. If you have never watched an equipment rodeo I highly recommend it.
Chapter meetings provide opportunities to recognize equipment operators
I would like to highlight two chapter equipment shows and rodeos that could serve as models for other chapters.
The first one is the Florida Chapter Annual Meeting and Trade Show. A one-day rodeo is part of the Florida Chapter Meeting and has numerous events testing the skills of operators. Events include operating and maneuvering equipment through a confined course while being timed, and tests of skill using a backhoe. It was enjoyable to watch the competition and camaraderie of the participants. A barbecue lunch was provided for all participants as well as prizes for the winning contestants. This event continues to grow and provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the work of equipment operators.
The second one is the Annual Maine Chapter Road Congress. This congress is in its ninth year, is held at the Skowhegan, Maine Fairgrounds, and has developed into a partnership between the Maine Chapter and the Town of Skowhegan. Over 120 exhibitors and 1200 attendees representing over 120 cities participate in this one-day event that includes exhibits, a snowplow rodeo, contests of skill with various types of large equipment, and an equipment demonstration area where operators can try out the latest equipment. There is no cost to attend and the winner of the snowplow rodeo has their expenses paid to the national snowplow rodeo in Denver. One of the outstanding features of this event is the work donated annually by participants to make improvements to the Skowhegan Fairgrounds. Because of these annual improvements, there is no charge for use of the fairgrounds.
A unique feature of the congress is an activity called Time-Out for Training, sponsored by the Maine Local Roads Center. This activity provides six areas throughout the fairgrounds where specific topics, such as work zone safety and signing and striping, are discussed. Involvement in all six activities makes participants eligible for prizes. The congress also includes a barbecue lunch and numerous prizes for contestants.
These are just two examples of successful programs being operated by chapters. I highly recommend that other chapters consider developing programs of a similar nature. We need to take the opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of our equipment operators.