2023 Donnie Spencer - Miner of the Year

2023 Miner of the Year - Donnie Spencer, Hinkle Contracting Company

Donnie Spencer began his career at Hinkle Contracting Company on August 3rd, 1979. His first job was a laborer at Natural Bridge Stone. In the early 1980’s, he became the secondary plant operator and in the mid-1980’s he progressed as the Secondary Plant Foreman. In 1993 he became the Manager for Natural Bridge Stone. In 1995, he became Central Quarries Manager which at that time was made up of Natural Bridge Stone and Tipton Ridge Quarry. In the early 1990’s, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet introduced a new base stone product called Crushed Stone Base (CSB). The KYTC viewed this material as a superior product to Dense Grade Aggregate. Because of the specification limiting the percentage of fines in CSB, it was an extremely difficult product to consistently produce in a way that avoided failures. Donnie with his design and plant mechanical skills was a leader in Hinkle Contracting Company’s implementation and construction of base stone blending plants. These were constructed at all of Hinkle Contracting Company’s quarries and the company was able to eliminate failures of CSB. In the late 1990’s, when new asphalt mix designs and specifications necessitated greater control of fines in the mix, Donnie took a keen interest in washing fine aggregates (Class I sand). He signed and oversaw the installation of a washed sand plant at Natural Bridge Stone. Over the next several years, Donnie designed and was very involved in the installation of washed sand plants at Bourbon Limestone, Lake Cumberland Stone, and Somerset Stone. Having a washed fine aggregate was instrumental in Hinkle Contracting Company being able to produce asphalt mixes that met the demands of new and improved asphalt pavement specifications.

In 2001, Hinkle Contracting Company and The Walker Company acquired the Debbie Hill Quarry in Morgan County, Kentucky from the Ruth Family. The crushing plant needed to be totally rebuilt. Donnie designed the new plant utilizing both new and used equipment and oversaw the installation. After several years Hinkle Contracting Company acquired the Walker’s interest in Cave Run and it became part of Central Quarries. Over the years Donnie became very interested in plant design, becoming self-taught and extremely proficient in the use of CAD and other design software. Because of Donnie’s skills, Hinkle Contracting Company became almost totally self-reliant in designing new plants and improvements to existing plants. Almost every, if not all, Hinkle Contracting Company crushing plants were touched by Donnie’s plant design work, including a totally new plant at Somerset Stone. Donnie saw needs to improve plant performance. He designed at least two pieces of equipment which reduced maintenance and/or improved plant performance. One was a spring-loaded impact absorbing device used at conveyor/material transfer points. Another was a slope plate water clarifier which was instrumental in allowing Hinkle Contracting Company’s fine aggregate wash plants to clean and re-circulate huge volumes of water which were necessary to wash Class I Sand. Hinkle Contracting Company had very limited water availability at all its locations and would never have been able to wash Class I Sand without this piece of equipment. Both the impact absorbing device and slope plate clarifier were patented. In 2011, Hinkle Contracting Company purchased the Walker Family’s interest in Bourbon Limestone, an underground quarry. Donnie assumed responsibility for the management of this location as it became part of Central Quarries. After some restructuring at Hinkle Contracting Company in 2015 and 2016, Donnie assumed responsibilities for the management of Ewing Stone and Jellico Stone in addition to the quarries that made up Central Quarries. These are just some of the highlights of Donnie’s 44 year history with Hinkle Contracting Company. Congratulations to Donne Spencer, 2023 Miner of the Year.