Public Works employee wins regional equipment rodeo

Press release from Alachua County

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – Alachua County Public Works employee Dwight Thomas recently won top honors in a regional heavy equipment rodeo hosted by the City of Gainesville. Thomas won four out of the six heavy equipment operator events, making him the grand champion of the rodeo.

The events are timed games designed to test the operator’s ability to do unusual and often tedious tasks with large, heavy equipment. For example, contestants had to pick up three basketballs with the boom of a Vac Truck and then place each ball through an ordinary basketball net in the allotted time. Contestants were disqualified if they dropped a ball, missed the net, or ran out of time (Vac trucks are like big vacuum cleaners used by most Public Works Departments to clean the sand and trash out of manholes and pipes.). In another event, contestants had to move checker pieces from one board to another with a Grapple Truck in the allotted time (Grapple trucks are used daily by staff to remove trees and debris from the roads.).

Operating heavy equipment efficiently and safely takes a tremendous amount of hand-eye coordination. Thomas is a skilled professional operator with over 33.5 years of Public Works experience, with eight of those years working for Alachua County. He will go on to compete for statewide honors in April at the American Public Works Conference in Jacksonville.

Now is a great time to start a career with the Public Works Department. There are several entry-level and heavy equipment operator positions open. Benefits include competitive starting salaries, health insurance, retirement, and training, including the opportunity to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) at no cost to the employee (a savings of approximately $5,000).