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Onslow County School Bus Driver Takes Top Honors; Durham County Team Wins Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo

Angelo Caputo
Angelo Caputo, 1st place winner (middle) poses with Jeff Smith, Onslow Director of Transportation & Judy O'Donnell, Transportation Coordinator.

E/C roadeo winners
E/C roadeo winners Denise Prince & Joan Thompson pose with Steve Beachum & Valerie Herndon (right), co-chair of the Special Needs committee.

On Thursday May 15th, sixty-six school bus drivers from across the state gathered at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh to demonstrate their skill and professionalism at the annual School Bus Driving Competition. Two competitions made up the School Bus Driving Competition: the State ROADeo Finals and the Special Needs Team Safety ROADeo.

Forty-Eight school bus drivers participated in final testing and driving competitions to be the state’s top school bus driver. Each driver had to take a written test and then drive through a course consisting of numerous skills challenges.

In the Special Needs Team Safety ROADeo, nine teams – each comprised of a school bus driver and a school safety attendant – took a written test, competed in driving skills challenges and demonstrated their student management and care giving skills.

All Roadeo drivers attended a driver banquet held at the NC Dept. of Pubic Instruction building on the evening before the roadeo. Others in attendance included members of DPI staff, DMV judges, and sponsoring vendors. During the banquet special recognition was given by the DPI Exceptional Children Division to Steve Beachum of DPI Transportation for his support & dedication to the special needs bus drivers across the state.

Above & Beyond award
During the banquet, Angela Alford from Moore County was given the Above & Beyond award for her dedication as an E/C driver. Here she poses with Sure-Loc regional sales manager Steve Barker. Sure-Loc sponsors this award each year.

Steve Beachum
Steve Beachum poses with Valerie Herndon, DPI E/C consultant.

Before the Roadeo event, all participants were greeted by State school Superintendent June Atkinson, DPI School Support Director Ben Matthews and DMV Commissioner William Gore, who offered words of praise and support for the contestants.

A special thanks goes out to NC DMV School Bus & Traffic Safety section for setting up the roadeo course and providing the numerous judges needed for the event. School Bus & Traffic Safety are the folks responsible for training & licensing the state’s school bus drivers.

Don Johnson
DMV SBTS manager Don Johnson(left) & DMV Supervisor Donnie Smith coordinated the judges supplied by DMV.

off set alley event
The off set alley event is always a challenge.

top ten
Top Ten finishers:
1. Angelo Caputo - Onslow
2. Billy McKemey - Wake
3. William Bost - Cabarrus
4. Bill Faison - Union
5. Noah Wolfe - Cherokee Indian Res.
6. Chris Owen - Sampson
7. Arthur Herring - Wayne
8. Bryan Lanier - Wake
9. Bryan Perry - Franklin
10. Jeffrey Mellen - Wake

E/C Roadeo top 3 teams
Top Three Special Needs Roadeo finishers:
1. Denise Prince & Joan Thompson - Durham
2. Matthew Monk & Tonya McNeil
- Wake
3. Tamara Clemmons & Bobbie Lancaster - Durham

In addition to the 1000.00 cash prize, six year veteran driver Angelo Caputo will represent North Carolina at the International School Bus Driving Competition to be held this summer in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This was Angelo’s first attempt at a NC state level roadeo. He had previously competed in the Pennsylvania state roadeo where he used to drive. He currently drives for Swansboro High School and was trained by DMV specialist Lonzie Evans. Angelo reports that he plans to go to Calgary and represent NC to the best of his ability.

Wake County Schools’ bus driver Billy McKemey received a check for $500 for second place and Cabarrus County Schools’ bus driver William Bost received a check for $400 for taking third. Other winners were: fourth place ($300) Bill Faison, Union County Schools; fifth place ($200), Noah Wolfe, Cherokee Indian Reservation; sixth place ($100), Chris Owens, Sampson County Schools; seventh place ($100), Arthur Herring, Wayne County Schools; eighth place ($100), Byron Lanier, Wake County Schools; ninth place ($100), Bryan Perry, Franklin County Schools; and 10th place ($100), Jeffrey Mellen, Wake County Schools.

Special needs drivers Denise Prince and Joan Thompson in addition to winning 300.00 each will represent North Carolina at the national competition being held in March 2009 in Indianapolis, Ind. The Wake County Public Schools’ team of Matthew Monk and Tonya McNeil took second place and received a check for $200 each, and the Durham Public Schools’ team of Tamara Clemons and Bobbie Lancaster took third place and received a check for $150 each.

Denise & Joan have competed as a team for the past three years and had previously won 2nd at the 2006 state finals. Denise has been a bus driver for the past 10 years and currently drives at Oak Grove Elementary. Joan has driven school buses for 20+ years and drives at Lowes Grove middle school.

Other drivers that advanced from the regional competitions to the State ROADeo finals were: Merle Cooke, Tonya Ledford and Susan Gentry, Buncombe County Schools; Toni Yow and Kerry Case, Cabarrus County Schools; Darius Torian, Chapel-Hill/Carrboro City Schools; Tonya Jenkins and Traci Robinson, Cumberland County Schools; Deirdre Honaker, Davidson County Schools; Chad Dalton, Davie County Schools; Jonathan Dixon and Benny Weaver, Durham Public Schools; Walter Nail and Sandra Gray, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools; Jody Paulk and Julie Summer, Gaston County Schools; Charles Howell, Graham County Schools; Eric Turner, Hertford County Schools; Pamela Young, Iredell-Statesville Schools; Leigh Arch and Valerie Morgan, Johnston County Schools; Elizabeth Byrd, Lincoln County Schools; Carol Hensley, Madison County Schools; Lisa Lentz, McDowell County Schools; Wayne Petteway and Faron Gurganus, Onslow County Schools; Mindy Lockhart, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Schools; Rebecca Brady, Randolph County Schools; Martha Bullard, Public Schools of Robeson County; Ray Huss, Rowan-Salisbury Schools; Billy Dobbsin and Tim Burton, Surry County Schools; Mary Jane Eudy and Wesley Williams, Union County Schools; Stephanie High, Wake County Schools; Cecil Harmon, Watauga County Schools; and James Shepard, Wayne County Schools.

Also competing in the Special Needs Transportation ROADeo were: Duncan Spears and Angel Smith, Cabarrus County Schools; Lyle Woods and Melissa Oullette, Cumberland County Schools; Georgia Crocker and Jan Rhodes, Johnston County Schools; Cindy Rawls and Karen Wallace, Onslow County Schools; John Corey and Trina Cox, Pitt County Schools; and Rosa Huffin and Mary Ann Grimsley, Wake County Schools.

For more information about the School Bus Driving Competition, please contact NCDPI Transportation Services at 919.807.3570











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