In a place as wide open as New Mexico, ya gotta know how to work them front-end loaders -- and fix 'em, too.
That's why the New Mexico Department of Transportation holds its annual Equipment Road'eo, pitting teams against each other in tests of equipment maintenance skills. Employees from around the state face off in maintenance on backhoes, front-end loaders, motor graders and dump trucks.
The agency's District 5 team was recognized for taking top awards at the 2011 Road'eo. The team consisted of Francis Vigil and Andrew Garcia of the Tres Piedras Patrol, Joseph Mondragon of the Peñasco Patrol and Dennis Valdez of the districtwide vactor crew. The four won the Commissioner's Cup and a Traveling Plaque for the overall highest scores on all pieces of equipment.
Also at the awards ceremony, Randy Collins was honored as District Five's 2011 employee of the year. Collins, a civil engineer technician-advanced, has worked with the district for 25 years. Along with supervising a number of recent projects, including the U.S. 64 reconstruction project, he was commended for his skill at training new employees.
The Estancia Patrol (Crew 42-42) was named District 5's crew of the year for its snow removal efforts during an unusually severe snow season. Responsible for almost 200 miles of roadway, the crew provided "excellent snow removal operations" with only three employees for much of the season, nominators said. Crew members were Charlie Chavez, Martín Anaya and acting patrol supervisor Victor Barela.
The top New Mexico Department of Transportation General Office employees for 2011 were carpenter Juan Valdez and the Pavement Evaluation Unit of Frank Arellano, Melvin Ortiz and Clyde Lovato. Valdez provided "invaluable service" through his carpentry and building skills, which have saved the agency a significant amount of money, his nominators said.
The Pavement Evaluation Unit was singled out for successfully reviving a critical program that uses specially designed electronic equipment to measure pavement conditions on some 10,000 miles of roadway each year.
Ramah Patrol foreman Robert Unkenstine was named Department of Transportation agencywide 2011 employee of the year. Under Unkenstine's leadership, the patrol, for the first time in 2011, earned the award of Patrol of the Year. According to his nominators, "Robert has become a true leader in every sense of the word, and this is evident in his humble nature."
The Department of Transportation's crew of the year for 2011 was the Survey Crew of Jerry Nickels, Cruz Hernandez and supervisor Harvey Mariano. Even after going from five to three members, the team provides "impeccable service to both internal and external customers," its nominators said.
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