Meridian, Miss. A statewide competition involving skill, precision, and safety brought many Mississippi Department of Transportation employees to the Queen City. The competition dubbed the MDOT Roadeo, allows winners of each district roadeo in the state, a chance to become top dog and compete nationally. Although only a decade old, the competition has grown throughout the US as a way for MDOT employees to enhance precision of using equipment in a competitive manner.
"I believe it began 14 years ago with Mississippi and Arkansas competing against each other in equipment skills," said State Maintenance Engineer Heath Patterson. "It has grown from there to 11 states all over the Southeast."
The roadeo involves many different events from the precision operation of a backhoe, to maneuvering a bush hog through tight spots, among many other things. The events are a way to bring other employees together in a competitive nature to work on improving their skills.
"It gives an employee an opportunity to show off their skills and equipment operation," said District 1 Competitor Carlton Fisher. "It gives us a chance to meet other employees from across the state. They also make it a family event where we can enjoy our family in this spirit of competition."
Throughout the roadeo many new skills and insights are learned, but none is more important than safety.
"Safety is our number one aspect," said District 5 Competitor Matthew Thorne. "That's what we at MDOT preach to everyone of our new employees that we come across, is safety. Safety first, if it takes 5 minutes to do a job and 2 hours to do it safely, we want to do it safe."
The winners of each event will then represent the state in a regional competition held in Roanoke, Virginia, in September.