- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2002

Using garbage trucks, snow plows and front-end loaders instead of bucking broncos, the D.C. Department of Public Works held its fourth annual Roadeo at RFK Stadium yesterday under sunny skies.
Public Works employees competed with the District Division of Transportation (DDOT) employees in handling heavy equipment used on District streets.
Oldies such as "I Second That Emotion" by Smokey Robinson were heard over the loud speakers on parking lot No. 3 at RFK Stadium in Northeast, where the events were held.
Thirty-four participants got behind the wheels of backhoes, bucket and refuse trucks, street sweepers, front-end loaders and snow plows and demonstrated the skill it takes to safely haul tons of debris, clean streets and plow snow all before rush hour.
The drivers, some of whom work for Public Works and the Division of Transportation, threw truck gears into reverse without a hitch and zigzagged through obstacle courses backwards.
They stopped the huge vehicles before toppling traffic cones, barrels or saw horses, earning points from the judges, which could win them the chance to compete in Ocean City in May.
The men whipped trucks around narrow corners with barriers positioned on either side. Some drivers picked up and dumped tons of gravel in record time, and a lot of the driving was in reverse.
For people like Robert Stanback, 59, the general foreman in charge of a crew of 48 street sweepers, the event offers a chance to hang out with friends and find out how the equipment operates.
"And, we get to meet family members" of co-workers, said Mr. Stanback, a 35-year veteran of Public Works.
The mechanized rodeo began at 8 a.m. Employees competed in six timed competitions using large road equipment. The first- and second-place winners of the events compete in the American Public Works Regional Equipment Roadeo in Ocean City, against their counterparts in Maryland and Virginia.
W.B. Smith, who works for DDOT, took on one of the most challenging courses designed for the snow-plow category. Mr. Smith, 43, handled the course without a hitch.
Eight judges with rulers were on the field watching his every move as he maneuvered the five-ton truck that's mounted with a snow plow in the front and a non-toxic chemical-and-salt spreader on the back. He made a right turn, drove through a set of obstacles, maneuvered the truck in an "S" and made it to the finish line in reverse.
"The Roadeo allows you to compete, and it allows you to improve your skills," Mr. Smith said. "And it takes a lot of skill to operate the truck, not only at the Roadeo, but on the streets," he said.
Edward McNair, an 18-year veteran of Public Works, also tackled the course.
"I hit one obstacle, [but] I feel like I'm going to be a finalist," said Mr. McNair, 43, who lives in Southeast.
Mr. McNair's daughter, Jessica, 10, beamed with pride at her dad's accomplishment, but she had some reservations.
"I thought he drove well but too fast. But he's a good driver. What makes this a fun day for me is that I get to play," said Jessica, who attends Stevens Elementary School in Northwest.
Mr. McNair's son, Edward McNair Jr., 16, hopes to follow in his father's footsteps. "I want my father to teach me how to drive like he does."
James Hall, the last to compete in the snow-plow event, said, "I think I did pretty well."
Mr. Hall of DDOT won first place. G. Anthony Wooten III of DDOT came in second, and Hakim Sharif-el of DDOT came in third.
Van Johnson of Public Works finished first in the street-sweeper event, Charles Carey of Public Works came in second and Daniel Philson of Public Works finished in third place.
James Lewis of Public Works won the refuse-truck event; Devon Montgomery of DDOT won the bucket-truck competition; John McPhaul of DDOT won the front-end loader event; and Anthony Bell of DDOT won the backhoe event.

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