Several Vinton Public Works employees and Town Manager Barry Thompson competed in the annual Public Works Equipment Rodeo at the Berglund Center on April 11.
The rodeo began originally as a Roanoke City event and grew through the years to include workers from surrounding areas such as the Town of Vinton, Salem, Roanoke County, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, the Western Virginia Water Authority, and others.
Public Works Director Joey Hines has said that the rodeo is a great chance for employees to build camaraderie with fellow workers from other localities, to compare notes, discuss and try out new equipment, and bring back new ideas.
Each event is based on the piece of equipment it is named after and is intended to test the competitor’s ability to safely and skillfully complete a task or course. Events are scored on the actual time taken to complete the task and penalties acquired. Employees usually compete in the events that include equipment they operate on their jobs, but with a few twists added to make the task more difficult.
For example, on the job a knuckle boom operator uses a hydraulically operated arm to pick up brush, appliances, and other large bulk items. In the competition, the operator is required to use the arm and its claw to pick up a small brick, swing it around the vehicle, and lower it onto a bulls-eye target.
Just for fun as part of the rodeo, the boom operators also picked up a raw egg and move it from the top of one traffic cone to another.
Vinton Public Works employees participating in the rodeo competition and the events they entered include:
- Cameron Akers in Knuckleboom Truck and Zero-turn Mower events
- Barry Custer in Knuckleboom Truck and Zero-turn Mower events— he placed second in Knuckleboom
- Jason Davison in Backhoe, Knuckleboom Truck and Mini-Excavator events
- Cory Kitzmiller in the Front End Loader event
- Jared Meadows in Backhoe, Front End Loader, Knuckleboom Truck, Mini-Excavator and Zero-turn Mower events
- Thomas Morris in Mini-Excavator and Zero-turn Mower events
- Billy Robb in the Zero-turn Mower event
- Kenny Sledd in Backhoe, Knuckleboom Truck, Mini-Excavator and Zero-turn mower events— he placed third in Backhoe
- Chris Weikel in Backhoe, Knuckleboom Truck and Zero-turn mower events
Town Manager Barry Thompson participated in the Fourth Annual Executive Challenge event— this year operating a mini-excavator. The mini-excavator challenge is set up with three traffic cones placed in front of the machine and spaced roughly five feet apart with a toy basketball, football, and soccer ball on top of the three cones. The challenge is timed; contestants start with the bucket on the ground. When the contestant is ready, the timer starts; the objective is to lift the bucket, rotate over to any of the three cones and lift the ball off the cone into the mini-bucket and then rotate and drop the ball into a five-gallon bucket that is placed beside the cones. The person who gets all three balls off the cones and into the five-gallon bucket the fastest wins— even harder than it sounds.
Other participants in the Executive Mini-Excavator Challenge included former Vinton Town Manager Kevin Boggess, now City Manager in Salem, Roanoke County Administrator Tom Gates, and administrators from Roanoke City, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and the Western Virginia Water Authority.