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Sulphur Bluff Team Named Grand Champion At Help-A-Child Benefit Ag Mechanics Build Off

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The first ever Help-A-Child Benefit Ag Mechanics Team Build Off was a huge success Friday, with all 35 teams commended by the judges for their welding skills, safety practices and use of PPE, and manner in which they worked together as a team. In the end, however, only the teams constructing the top four ranked smokers went home with awards.

“Everyone is doing excellent work,” said John Plemons, Paris Junior College welding instructor and contest judge.” All of y’all will make great welders. There weren’t any welds out here that were bad.”

All four winning teams — Sulphur Bluff team #4, Hallsville, Prairiland and Cooper

Nine schools — Bonham, Caddo Mills, Como-Pickton, Rains, Hughes Springs, Sulphur Bluff, Sulphur Springs, Winnsboro and Boles — had two teams competing at the event. Also competing were four-person teams from Cooper, Bland, Callisburg, Van, Grandview, Detroit, Miller Grove, Celina, Timpson (near Nacogdoches), Chism, North Hopkins, Hartley, Prairiland, Avery, Cumby, Wills Point and Hallsville schools.

Level of experience among competitors varied from experienced seniors to first time competitors.

“We do appreciate all of you who’ve come to our first ever build off with our Help-A-Child organization. Just a reminder, what money was raised goes to Scottish Rite Hospital, Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center and our local foster families as well as scholarships by the local Lodges that participate in this area,” said Michael Bowen, ag mechanics team build off co-coordinator with Dan Froneberger.

Some ag instructors said the contest was not only a good competition experience for the students, it also allows them to take an active role in helping other youth through the programs the Help-A-Child Benefit supports. The team from Winnsboro said they felt compelled to attend a competition so close to home that offers kids this opportunity to learn and grow while helping the Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center in their town.

In fact, the Kids Helping Kids event went so well, contest organizers are considering adding more contests next year to give even more students a chance to help other youth through their contest entry fees and participation.

“I can’t stress enough thanks to everybody who showed up here today for helping us with the Help-A-Child Benefit. Y’all are helping a lot of children in our area,” said Help-A-Child Benefit coordinator Wade Bartley.

Local businesses sponsored the competition, donating an estimated $5,000 worth of tools and equipment, which the top teams took home. Everyone working received a t-shirt for their participation in the event. Top winners also received another kit to take home to construct another fire pit, which they can then sell to benefit their school program.

Once ranked by a Panel of judges from Paris Junior College, the top four projects then automatically were entered in Saturday’s Help-A-Child live auction, with the proceeds to be added to the auction total. Bonham also donated their projects Friday, and one also was to be auctioned Saturday.

Sulphur Bluff team at site #4 went home with the banner for welding the Grand Champion ag mechanics team build off project Friday. Along with bragging rights and a banner, the grand champion team consisting of Jace Cunningham, Dakota Klemptner, Landon Dugnolle and Jess Cunningham received as part of their prize package RWX Digital Automatic Welding Helmets, Badger totes with the 2022 event logo on them and cases, socket sets, gloves, pliers, wrenches and other welding gear.

The Hallsville team consisting of Cade Edwards, Luke Hamilton, Trevor Smith, and Landon Rachal constructed the Reserve Champion ag mechanics project Friday. In addition to their banner, second place team took home DeWalt reciprocating saws, piers, Milwaukee Packouts, gloves, DeWalt 20volt FlexVolt Advantage, Matheson Select Electronic Welding Helmets and other items as part of their prize package.

The Prairiland team built the third place project. In addition to a banner, the prize package they took home included Mikita circular saws, gloves, Milwaukee measuring tape, vice grips, toolboxes and other items.

Finally, the fourth place build off project was constructed by the Cooper team. Their prize package included Milwaukee Packouts, vice grips, wrenches, taper measures and other tools.

Presenting sponsors for the Ag Mechanics Competition Team Build Off include Bobcat of North Texas, 5W Contracting-Michael and Kimberly Williams, Tommy Williams Pipe and Steel, Hooten’s and Matheson.

“We thank everyone for coming, these ag students for applying their skills to these projects. We need to thank the ag teachers: guys and gals my hats go off to you for all the time that you devote to these students,” Bartley said, calling for a round of applause for the agriculture teachers.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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