LIMA — The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 1 held its annual truck and loader roadeo; the first since 2019. The event also featured on display the entries from area high schools that participated in this year’s Paint the Plow contest.
The roadeo was a friendly competition among ODOT equipment operators which required drivers to maneuver a truck or loader through a series of obstacle courses designed to replicate what they may encounter on the job. Employees from each of ODOT District 1’s eight-county regions of Allen, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, and Wyandot were eligible to participate. Winners will advance to the state competition in the fall.
The purpose of the roadeo is to let drivers test their driving skills. All of the hires within the last two years must participate. The competition helps them improve their maneuvering skills with the bigger vehicles. It also increases camaraderie because it is one of the few times that all eight counties in District 1 can come together. There were 40 participants in the two events — driving a loader or driving a truck with an attached snow blade. The top two individuals will then progress to a state competition.
Richard Gutman participated in the loader competition. He has been driving loaders for four years. His experience driving the trucks is a bit longer — 18 years. When asked to evaluate his run through the obstacle course his comment was, “All right, I guess. I have no idea how I did.” Judges are at strategic spots on the course to evaluate the drivers. Gutman enjoys getting out of the shop and spending time with other ODOT workers that he doesn’t see on a daily basis.
Jeromy Piehl was an evaluator at a couple of positions on the truck obstacle course. He also trains the drivers. Every driver in District 1 has received initial training from Piehl. He assessed the competition by saying, “It’s pretty good. They’re doing awesome. Doing a great job of showing off all their skills. It’s more about fun, but they’re still taking it pretty seriously and having a good time.”
Also on display at the roadeo were the 28 painted plow blades from area high schools that participated in the Paint the Plow contest. Students were asked to paint the design of their choice on an ODOT plow blade. Voting will continue on social media through Friday. An ODOT Choice and People’s Choice winner will be announced by May 31, at the end of public voting via social media.
Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409