Every year, the New Mexico Association of Counties hosts a conference at which public officials can swap knowledge with their peers. Most of that happens in hotel indoor venues like hotel conference or classrooms.
But the county workers who are used to tackling outdoor jobs—like members of road crews or building maintenance staffs—do their networking outside as well. And for them, some of that networking involves a competition to see which county has the best heavy equipment operators.
At the 2015 NMAC conference, held in Albuquerque this past June, Stanley Cisneros of the Sandoval County Public Works Department earned the title of New Mexico’s Top Backhoe Operator at the annual Heavy Equipment Rodeo.
It was the first time Sandoval County Public Works staff participated in the rodeo. In total, six Sandoval County employees took part, three from Bernalillo location and three who are assigned to the Cuba location.
“The entire team performed well, especially considering it was their first competition, and they were operating unfamiliar equipment,” said Public Works Director Tommy Mora. However, Cisneros stood out in the backhoe completion, besting all other operators to take first place.
Earning that title required steering the backhoe along a precise course and lifting and dropping loads at designated points along the route. All this is done on equipment the individual driver may not be familiar with, since the host county is responsible for having equipment on hand for the competition.
Driving unfamiliar equipment was part of the fun, according to Cisneros, who was feted for this accomplishment at the August 6, 2015 Sandoval County Commission meeting. “I like this competition because it allowed me to test my skills against other operators around the state, and it gave me a chance to drive some of the newer equipment that Sandoval County doesn’t have yet,” he said.
Mora told the commissioners the Sandoval County team already is preparing for next year’s rodeo, which will be held in conjunction with the next NMAC annual conference in Hobbs. “We hope to get Stanley down there to defend his title,” Mora said. “And I told the hold team that we would do something nice for them if they can take the team title, which Bernalillo County has held for the past four years.”