It Takes a Steady Hand to Represent Arlington County

Published on May 25, 2017

Arlington's Alexis Zambrano is a proven "roadeo" star who doesn't horse around. 

[caption id="attachment_12335" align="alignright" width="300"] Alexis Zambrano at the 2017 Mid-Atlantic APWA "Roadeo."[/caption]

The veteran County equipment operator has now brought home silver to go with previous gold from the big regional "Equipment Roadeo" competition, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic American Public Works Association.

Employed by the Department of Environmental Services's Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau for almost 15 years, Zambrano has mastered a parade of heavy rigs and equipment and can install much of any water system - from main to meter box. He can also dig really big holes.

But for his event at the Roadeo, Zambrano has to be quick on the levers, picking up a 12-inch metal pin with a hook on a swivel attached to a backhoe's bucket, turning 180 degrees and placing it into an opening no bigger than a quarter.  It's precision versus the clock.

Competition in Fredericksburg this year was fierce. Zambrano's time of 1:26 was good enough for second place but 13 seconds behind the winner.

Still, not bad considering 28 counties from Virginia and Maryland plus the District were represented.

"I do get nervous," the Arlington resident concedes, noting that some of his rivals were clearly shaking and turning red when their time came. "But the training from work helps a lot."

Water, Sewer and Streets chief Harry Wang says such competitions keep morale high and let staff show what they've learned. As he puts it, "Employees are in the driver's seat."

And Zambrano, 34, can still boast of a first-place finish two years ago when the Roadeo was in Baltimore. His time that year was just under 1:25. The man is consistent.

Zambrano, an Arlington resident who grew up in El Salvador, is now applying his award-winning focus on going back to school while still at work for the County. His goal: to become a supervisor.

It's a good bet he gets the job done.

Alexis Zambrano is just one of hundreds of County workers Arlington celebrates this May for National Public Works Week.