Public Works Skills on Display During 'Top Ops' Competition

Clearwater Public Works teams and individuals took top honors at the inaugural North Pinellas Top Ops Competition during the city’s Public Works Day Wednesday.

Operating heavy equipment can sure look easy.

Try using a backhoe to scoop an egg off a pile of sand and set it in a five gallon bucket, not quite such a drop in the bucket.

The backhoe operation event, part of the inaugural North Pinellas Top Ops Competition, was part of Public Works Day Wednesday.

There were water reclamation facility tours, demonstrations and vehicle and equipment displays as well.

“We’re trying to let everybody know what we do and the skill it takes,” said Tracy Mercer, director of Clearwater’s Public Utilities.

The competition pitted utility and field crews from Pinellas County for top honors and trophies.

There were 90 competitors from Clearwater, Dunedin, Largo, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs and the Town of Belleair.

“We hope to get even more (competitors) next year,” Mercer said.

Events also included:

  • Vacuum Truck Operation where competitors tried to make a basket with a basketball/hoop. 
  • The Hard Tap, where competitors open a ductile iron pipe and install a tap.
  • The Fun Tap, where they open a PVC pipe and install a tap.
  • Meter Madness, assemble a water meter from a bucket of parts.
  • Director's Challenge, which tests the director's ability to successfully do the backhoe challenge.

Mercer also mentioned adding more events next year. 

Here are this year's results:


1st place: Clearwater – Todd Kuhnel; 34 seconds.

2nd place: Dunedin – Mike Blanton; 35 seconds.

Vacuum Truck Operation

1st place: Largo – Louis Cotticchio; 1 minute.

2nd place: Clearwater – Maurice Bryant; 1.01.

Hard Tap             

1st place: Pinellas Park - Get n Wet; Ricky Dillard, Bryan Creggor, Jason Hicks, Tim Beech; 2 minutes 43 seconds.

2nd place Clearwater: - The Water Boys; Charles McAbee, Brody Burke, Kyle Wilson, Matt Dombrowski; 2 minutes 49 seconds.

Fun Tap

1st place: Dunedin - The Team to Beat;  Joe McLemore, Mike Blanton, Rodney Rainey, Larry Lash; 48.1 seconds.

2nd place: Clearwater - Kenny’s Rippers; Jason Gray, Kendrix Anderson, Orlando Rivas, Phil Horne; 48.38 seconds.

Meter Madness

1st place: Clearwater - Steve Martindale; 57 seconds.

2nd place: Clearwater - Davon Watson; 1 minute. 

Director’s Challenge

1st place: Clearwater – Laura Davis; 1.15 minutes.

2nd place: Pinellas Park – Randall Roberts; 1.29 minutes.

*updated 9:38 a.m. May 24, 2013

Related coverage:

  • Utility Workers Compete for Top Honors as Part of Public Works Day

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Ruth Gray May 24, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Jason Gray was on the fun tap 2nd place team...why isn't his name there?
Jared Leone May 24, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Jason Gray was not on the list of information provided when this story was first reported. The story is now updated to include Gray. Thanks Ruth!


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