NORMAL — Normal Mayor Chris Koos had better watch out this winter.
After besting Bloomington’s Tari Renner in a battle of the mayors snowplow driving competition on Friday, Koos may find himself on the on the reserve driver list.
Meanwhile, Renner already is asking for a rematch next year.
The two mayors drove blade-equipped, three-quarter-ton pickup trucks through an obstacle course in the parking lot at the Crossroads Center — the same course through which 21 teams of plow drivers from across the state maneuvered full-size plows as part of the American Public Works Association Illinois Chapter Roadeo competition.
With plastic barrels and cones standing in for parked cars and mailboxes, both the pros and mayors demonstrated their skills — or, in the case of the mayors, lack thereof — on a timed course that included backing up through a serpentine route and turning tight corners. The drivers cheered their co-workers, teased the mayors and groaned when a cone or barrel became a casualty.
A team from the Urbana Public Works Department placed first in the overall competition after a tie-breaking runoff with McLean County’s Dry Grove Township. A written test and safety challenge were part of scoring.
Although Koos won the mayors’ duel, he was under no delusion that he was ready to get behind the wheel a city plow.
In accepting his “golden snowplow” trophy, Koos said to the real plow drivers, “The truth is, if either one of us was doing your job, our supervisors would tell us to get out and load salt.”
As runner-up, Renner received the “push-it-around-your-driveway” trophy: a shovel painted gold.
“It was definitely tough,” Renner said. “It showed us what our public works employees do for us every day.”
Although the competition took place under a blazing hot sun, winter was on the minds of many of those pre-sent.
Jim Karch, Bloomington public works director, has read the latest Farmers Almanac.
“They’re saying it’s going to be a colder and more snowy winter than last year,” Karch said. “Our crews are ready to go.”
Robin Weaver, Normal public works director, said pre-season preparation includes having drivers go over their routes and note any changes from the previous year. But she expects to be gone before the snow flies; she is retiring in November.