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Far West Division advances employees to State

CLYDE – More than 100 employees from across Division 14 — Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Polk, Swain, and Transylvania counties — recently participated in its annual Equipment Operators Safety Conference at the maintenance yard in Haywood County.

The conference showcases the skills and safety precautions taken by employees who work every day on North Carolina roads to provide visitors and residents with a safe and accommodating transportation system.

Goals of the safety conference include helping employees sharpen their skills with an emphasis on safe procedures while operating heavy machinery. The conference competition also fosters team spirit within individual units and across the division while recognizing employees who excel at their jobs.

Winners from each event will represent Division 14 at the State Equipment Operators Safety Training Conference in Raleigh on June 21.

  • Tandem Axle Truck Exercise: Greg Wright, Jackson County Maintenance
  • Lowboy Truck Exercise: Alan Cochran, Macon County Bridge
  • Motorgrader Exercise: Travis Johnson, Haywood County Maintenance
  • Tractor Mower Exercise: Matthew Fouts, Macon County Maintenance
  • Backhoe Exercise: Justin Derreberry, Cherokee County Maintenance
  • Single Axle Truck Exercise: Jamie Postell,  Macon County Maintenance
  • Crane Exercise: Larry Flowers, Cherokee County Bridge

Division 14 Engineer Wanda Payne — formerly Wanda Austin — said she is proud of the employees, their skills, aptitudes and attitudes, and desire to help drivers in western North Carolina.

She also showcased some of her skills on heavy machinery driving a truck through the course, maneuvering a backhoe in tight conditions and swinging the boom of a crane as safely and accurately as most of the Division 14 employees who use the machines on a daily basis. However, the Division Engineer disqualified herself from the overall competition on a technicality — supervisors are not eligible to advance to the state competition.

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