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      Competition revs up heavy equipment industry

      Although business may be slow in the heavy equipment industry, that's about the only thing.

      On Friday, industry professionals raced against the clock and each other in the Miller-Bradford & Risberg Case Challenge.

      When it comes to operating one of these 50,000 pound, $30,000 machines, it all comes down to skill.

      "It takes time in one," said Andy Griffin of Griffin Construction. "You can be shown how it runs, how it works, but you have to be coordinated, and you have to have half of a brain to know where you're at all the times."

      Knowing where you're at was one of the tasks to be completed. Competitors had to pick up puzzle pieces and drop them in their corresponding shapes.

      "I think the competition has been fun," commented Matt Anderson of Miller-Bradford & Risberg. "I think everyone here is having a good time, and there's seriousness on all parts because we're giving away a 37-inch flat screen TV and some gift cards."

      The event brought in around 50 competitors--most are general contractors from the area. All the proceeds from the challenge will go to Pigs n' Heat Fire Relief Fund.

      Even though the competition is all fun and games, it's also a morale booster.

      "I think the next 45 to 60 days are going to tell a lot," said Eric Nettleton of Case Equipment. "There's some stimulus money that's going to start flowing and some projects that are going to be started."

      The hope is that once the credit market is moving again, like a well-oiled machine, the construction sector will turnaround.

      "I see it being a positive summer," said owner Dan Soley of Miller-Bradford & Risberg. "The worse is behind us and the future is getting better."