Conners is VDOT low-boy winner; five headed for Richmond ‘RoadEO’

Larry Conners (center), the statewide low-boy competition winner, is congratulated by Jim Utterback (left), Culpeper District administrator, and Charlie Kilpatrick, deputy commissioner of highways.
Larry Conners (center), the statewide low-boy competition winner, is congratulated by Jim Utterback (left), Culpeper District administrator, and Charlie Kilpatrick, deputy commissioner of highways.

Five employees from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Culpeper District will represent the district in the statewide equipment operators’ competition in Richmond later this month. Culpeper District’s Larry Conners, of Woodville, also won the state competition for low-boy tractor-trailer operators.

The event, known as the RoadEO, is held each year to encourage VDOT’s equipment operators to maintain their awareness of safety and improve their skills in operating the equipment they use in their daily work. The events feature skill competitions using dump trucks, backhoes, tractor mowers and motor graders.

In each event the operators must maneuver around a course or perform tasks that require skill and control. For example, the backhoe operators must lift a concrete cylinder using one tine of the bucket and place the cylinder at a specific spot on a 4-inch-wide beam. The mower and truck competitions use a narrow course with multiple skill stations, including one where the operator must back the equipment to a stop against a barricade, getting as close as possible without touching the wall.

To qualify for the competition each operator must complete the required daily safety check of their equipment; the safety check is also scored by judges.

Culpeper District Administrator Jim Utterback said of the operators, “It is amazing to watch what they can do. These competitions are a testament to the extraordinary skills of the operators we have here in the district. They may take these skills for granted because they do it every day, but really, it is remarkable to watch.”

Almost 100 district equipment operators took part in at least one of the five events. Each operator was scored for his ability to complete the tasks as well as the time required. The district winners in each competition, with their work unit, were:

Single-axle dump truck: Dale Brown of Louisa, Cuckoo Area Headquarters superintendent.

Tandem-axle dump truck: Anthony Berry, Warrenton Residency sign crew transportation operator, a 22-year VDOT veteran who lives in Brightwood.

Backhoe: C.W. Blosser of Flint Hill, Rappahannock Area Headquarters transportation operator, who has worked for VDOT for 18 years.

Motor grader: Kevin Stringfellow, Amissville, a transportation operator at Warrenton Area Headquarters, who has worked for VDOT for 11 years.

Tractor mower: Steven Dominick Jr. of Locust Grove, a Culpeper District Shop equipment repair tech who has worked for VDOT for a year and a half. 

Larry Conners, who won the Virginia state competition for low-boy drivers, is a transportation operator in the Culpeper District Equipment Shop. The low-boy is a specialized flat-bed tractor-trailer used to transport off-road equipment and retrieve equipment for repairs. Conners, who has worked at VDOT for 28 years, will represent Virginia in the regional equipment operators’ competition later this month.

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