By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Landfill Cowboys

Valley County Duo Wins Three Trophies At Billings Landfill Equipment Rodeo


Bonnie Davidson / The Courier

August Aho and Brian Austin stand with their trophies from the first Landfill Equipment Rodeo. They competed with their skills on a dozer, a compactor and a loader at the Billings landfill.

Sometimes reading the small print can help. It's something Brian Austin, the Valley County landfill manager, will agree to. While he isn't happy about taking second to August Aho, a Valley County landfill employee, he's still happy they took home three out of nine trophies in the first Landfill Equipment Rodeo.

The two attended a training seminar April 29-30 at the Billings landfill, where they learned from Jason Todaro of Blue Ridge Services about the latest maintenance techniques and ways they can improve the local landfill. Austin said that the presentation was good and Todaro brought a lot of experience and knowledge to the trialing.

The Landfill Equipment Rodeo came after the work was put in the classroom and on a hands-on training. They spent the second day participating in dozer, loader and compactor competitions. Austin took second place in the compactor competition. Aho took first in the compactor competition and third in the dozer competition.

Austin competed in the compactor and loader competitions. Aho competed in the compactor and dozer competitions. Leaving the two competing in against each other in the compactor competition. Aho explained that the only reason Austin didn't take first was because of a small detail missed, that the written test would account for timing. Wrong answers added to the actual time they completed the course. Aho said that 14 individuals from all over the state competed in the rodeo.

"It was something new, something I wasn't used to, and there was 10 others watching us," Aho said. "But it was fun."

Aho spent a little extra time on the test realizing his answers could make an impact on the outcome. He said that Brian actually took first in the competition, but his test ended up knocking down his time.

"They said to fill the paper out, but they didn't explain the rules," Austin said. "I didn't take the time on the test."

The friendly in-house competition could be a topic of conversation for a while. The two said that they would participate again if the rodeo is offered again. The training also helped them with their required certifications needed to work at the landfill. The employees have attended several trainings.

Aho is fairly new to the landfill, starting in October of 2013. Austin has been working at the landfill for almost 21 years. He's attended trainings all over the country, this was the first time he participated in an equipment rodeo.

"It's never been done before," Austin said. "It's a different way to keep people excited about training."

The speakers and training were good, and they brought back some ideas to improve the local landfill. Austin explained that it's not just a place to dump your trash; several regulations and safety measures need to be followed in order to keep it running. He explained that there's a science to the job that several residents of the county might not realize.

"This trip we learned more maintenance techniques and how to improve the program," Austin said. "We learned some tips, tools and tricks to streamline everything."

They also took their first trophies home.

Austin said that the public can help improve the landfill process by following the signs and procedures. Putting garbage and compost in the correct places can help save the small staff a lot of time.


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