By: Fara Foster, Director of Communications & Community Engagement
The success of a paving crew depends on a number of things: the condition of the roadway they are working on; the training of the team members and their ability to work together; the quality of the asphalt mix; the way the equipment is maintained. A huge part of their success also depends on a completely different crew.
Shannon Minga’s crew works largely behind scenes, milling and prepping for their paving counterparts and placing shoulder gravel when paving is finished. One of our smaller crews, this 9-person team has a collective 60+ years of experience. While that sounds impressive on its own, factor in that two team members just started this spring.
Michael Ellis, VP of Southern Operations, noted the importance of the crew, “What they do is just as important as what our paving crews do. In a nutshell, they set up the paving crews to be successful, but they get very little recognition.”
When asked what makes their team so good, lead man, Walter Shoemaker, said, “We have no weak links. We work as a team and we play on every person’s strength.”
Their strengths are many, which results in their wearing many hats, as does their humility. They performed a part of our annual paving contract with the City of Southaven this spring, driving an hour to help the northern ops team. Since this crew does not have a paver, they performed their work “old school”, with backhoes, shovels and rakes.
Shannon was quick to point out, “These guys will do anything to get the job done.”
Even the most seasoned operators on the team, Reginald Bledsoe (broom operator), Jamie Pruett (traffic control), and Bo Williamson (shoulder spreader) jumped in to help rake and shovel on that patch project.
Those strengths also lie in recognizing the potential in each other. With encouragement from her team, Shatia Smith pursued her Commercial Driver’s License over the winter months and is now learning to operate equipment.
“The thing about that crew is that every one of them is great at their craft,” Michael continued. “I know the job is going to be done right plus I have every confidence our newer people are being trained well by our veterans.”
Other team members include Henry Gholston (roller operator), Vanese Liddell (grader operator), Caitlin Hollingsworth and Jaquarn Wilson (flaggers).