Snowplow Rhodeo prepares for the white stuff


One of state’s most important organizations held a rather interesting four-hour event last Wednesday at the sun-covered Johnston High School parking lot. It was the Rhode Island Public Works Association’s annual Snowplow Rhodeo minus that messy white stuff that during the winter months raises havoc for all of the Ocean State’s Department of Public Works and staffers.

“This is an unbelievably good thing,” said Stephen P. Mattscheck, Director of Public Works for the Town of Exeter. “We’ve been doing this for many, many years…it a great way to see our strengths and weaknesses and prepare our staff for the snow season.”

There were exhibitors from the trade industry as well as team competitions that wound up with a winning tandem, whose skills ranked number one and received a scholarship of sorts from the RIPWA that Mattscheck said will cover travel, hotel and meals at the upcoming APWA Western Snow & Ice Rodeo in Colorado next month. That winning tandem included Michael Heaton and Noel St. George Jr., who made up one of many teams the City of Providence Public Works Department, sent to the four-hour forum.

In all, a host of Rhode Island-based Departments of Public Works sent teams of two workers to participate in what Johnston DPW Director Arnie Vecchione said was “a valuable educational experience for all or our employees, especially at this time of year and long before the snow flies.”

Perhaps Erin Gingerella, Membership Services Director for the statewide Association, said it best while chatting with people like Annie Kelley, Northeast Training Manager for Aquaphalt that’s based in Charlottesville, Va. “This is a way to train, keep up and test the skills and knowledge of Rhode Island Department of Public Works state and municipal employees in a number of different phases,” said Gingerella. “The teams here today will be tested by taking a written safety quiz, a pre-truck safety inspection then snowplow slalom.”

Every few years, according to Mattscheck, state and local DPWs have new employees and that this is a great learning event, even for our veterans employees.

“Most people have no problems going forward [with the snow plow],” Mattscheck said, “but it’s the backing up in tight areas that is often difficult. Today, we’re addressing that issue as well.”

Last Wednesday’s event also featured an individual loader competition and as Gingerella said, “The competition is friendly and the camaraderie it generates helps to increase moral in all the departments.”

While there were company representatives like the Highway Rehab Corp of Brewster, NY and Atlantic Broom Service of Taunton, Mass. on hand, Rhode Island’s Senior United States Sen. Jack Reed also took in a portion of the four-hour event during a tour of Johnston with Mayor Joseph Polisena.

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These are some of the company representatives and organizers of the annual Rhode Island Snowplow Rhodeo that took place last Wednesday in the Johnston High School parking lot. The group includes: Erin Gingerella, Leigh McStay, Arnie Vecchione, Annie Kelley, Stephen Mattscheck, Robert Barrow and David Capelle. (Sun Rise photos by Pete Fontaine)

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Sen. Jack Reed (third from right) checked out the day’s activities and is joined by Erin Gingerella, membership services with RIPWA, Bob Dexter, board member of the RIPWA, Mayor Joseph Polisena, Steve Mattscheck, Exeter’s DPW Director, and Timothy Ledogar of C.N. Wood.

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This 30,000-pound GVW truck with front mounted plow was used in the Snowplow Slalom competition during last Wednesday’s Rhode Island Public Works Association event in Johnston.


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