A Jones County school employee was named the best school bus driver in the state at the annual State School Bus ROADeo held at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh on May 21th.
Charles Mantie took the top honor after completing the difficult written test and navigating a school bus through an obstacle course that tested drivers’ skills in mastering events including diminishing clearance, backing, making a tight turn and parallel parking to name a few.
Charles has driven a school bus for Jones County schools for three years. He was previously in the trucking industry and has owned his own trucks or has driven for others for 28 years. He has been a volunteer for Hargetts Crossroads fire department for 21 years and works part time with the Jones County EMS as an EMT on the rescue squad. Charles is married to Nancy Mantie and has 5 children.
According to Frankie Floyd, Jones County Transportation Director, “Charles has participated in the Jones County bus ROADeo for three years. He participated in the district ROADeo and place 2nd and went on to place 2nd at the state level. Jones County chose to send him to the International ROADeo in Baltimore Maryland in July 2011. Charles places 6th internationally on his first attempt in a ROADeo that is MUCH different than our state ROADeo. Charles placed 2nd in the district ROADeo in 2012 and placed fourth at the state level. Charles made a statement after placing fourth that he WOULD pay his own way to the International ROADeo the next year (by placing first) and he did. Charles studied off and on for a year and aggravated the dickens out of me to help him set up a course to practice”.
Mantie received a $500 cash prize and a trip to represent the state in the national school bus driving competition to be held this summer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was presented the cash prize and trophy by NCPTA president Jim Ellis and DMV SBTSS Director Don Johnson.
The 2nd through 5th place finishers received $400, $300, $200 and $100, respectively. Sixth through 10th place finishers won $50.
A total of 48 school bus drivers participated in the final testing and driving competition to name the top school bus driver in North Carolina.
Each of the 48 contestants advanced to the state finals by placing in the top 10 of a regional competition. Most regional participants also advanced through a local ROADeo sponsored by their local school system.
The top ten are pictured below, left to right. 8 Kathy Broadway (Davie County Schools), 7 Jeffrey Mellen (Wake County Schools), 3 Heather Bailey (Rowan County Schools), 6 Eric Edwards (Pitt County Schools), 10 Danny Williams (Public Schools of Robeson County), 1 Charles Mantie (Jones County Schools), 5 Richard Davis (Buncombe County Schools), 2 Byron Lanier (Wake County Schools), 4 Chris Owens (Sampson County Schools), 9 Michael Cunningham (Durham Public Schools)
News and Observer Columnist Barry Saunders and DMV Commissioner James Forte took a turn behind the wheel before the drivers got serious.
District 2 Winners: THIRD: Rebecca Brady (Randolph) FIRST: Michael Cunningham (Durham) SECOND: Derese Burnette (Chapel Hill)
District 3 Winners: THIRD: Eric Edwards (Pitt) FIRST: Jeff Mellen (Wake) SECOND: Byron Lanier (Wake)
District 4 Winners: SECOND: Charles Mantie (Jones) THIRD: Michael Peek (Cumberland) FIRST: Takeem Dennis (Onslow)
District 5 Winners: FIRST: Matt Nail (Cabarrus) SECOND: Brian Joyner (Union) THIRD: Jody Paulk (Gaston)
District 1 Winners: FIRST: Junior Pennington (Ashe) SECOND: Richard Davis (Buncombe) THIRD: Tanya Neice (Wilkes)
A special thanks goes out to Don Johnson and his staff from DMV School Bus & Traffic safety for setting up the course and providing judging services. Also thanks to The North Carolina Pupil Transportation Association, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Transportation Services Section, and Wake County Public School System's Transportation Department for support services provided to the ROADeo.
Pictured above: John Henderson (Chatham, Orange), Charlie Lockamy (Stanly, Montomery), Greg Barksdale (Burke), Rene’ Hardin (Johnston) and James Horton (Beaufort, Hyde, Pitt)
Picture above, from Wake County transportation…. Technicians Raeford Mitchell (Team Leader) and Chris Nicely made sure the buses were in order. Tanya Rich and Teresa Williams helped serve lunch to hungry participants and observers!