Apprentices hammer out victories at skills contest

February 18, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Hammers pounded and saws buzzed as about 35 Tri-State-area apprentices competed to be the best in their trade Saturday during the 2007 skills contest at the Barr Construction Institute on North Locust Street in Hagerstown.

The event was sponsored by the Cumberland Valley Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors. Participants competed in one of five categories - carpentry, electrical, HVAC, plumbing and sheet metal.

Competitors who won the hands-on portion of their category and scored 85 percent on the written test will advance to compete at the nationals next month in Nashville, Tenn., said M. James Rock, competition spokesman.

Austen McCarter (electrical) and Mitchell DeLashmutt (carpentry) are the only ones who satisfied both criteria.

Rock said the competitors were either third- or fourth-year apprentices.

John Eyler of Mercersburg, Pa., placed first in the plumbing category.

Typically, there's a foreman on the job if an apprentice has questions, Eyler said. But competitions such as the one Saturday force apprentices to solve their own problems.


"I did the best I could," he said.

Although Michelle Hamilton of West Virginia didn't win the electrical category, she said the competition helped build her self-esteem.

"I mastered it," she said. "I am so proud."

Hamilton confessed to being a little nervous at first, but once she started, the competition was just like another day at work.

"It's just what you do every day," she said.

The competitors represented Allegany, Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland; Berkeley, Mineral and Morgan counties in West Virginia; and Fulton and Franklin counties in Pennsylvania, said Joan Warner, president of the ABC's Cumberland Valley Chapter.

The first place winners won $125, Warner said. Second- and third-place winners took home $75 and $50, respectively.

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