News: Nashville District graduates latest lock operator class
Story by Leon Roberts
OLD HICKORY, Tenn. -- The commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District presented eight students of the lock operator class with graduation certificates here, Oct. 14, at the Cumberland River Operations Center at Old Hickory Lock and Dam.
Lt. Col. Anthony P. Mitchell lauded the group for completing the grueling one-year course that includes college classes, on-the-job training, and quarterly testing.
“There is much to be proud about,” the colonel told the graduates. “The future of this district, especially maintaining our locks and operating them, rests in your hands.”
Also during the graduation, Jim Davis, operations manager for the Corps on the Tennessee River, boiled his many years of experience down into a simple message to advise the new group of lock operators.
“Set your goals high and you can do whatever you desire to do,” Davis advised. “The main thing is to be a good lock operator. That’s all we want. Always be where you are supposed to be and doing what you’re supposed to be doing and you’ll never get into trouble."
Upon graduation, the students are now being assigned permanently to various Corps locks within the Cumberland River and Tennessee River waterways.
Donald Dean, navigation facility supervisor at Wilson Lock and Dam in Florence, Ala., attended and said the four students that trained at his location are greatly equipped for the great responsibility that comes with being a lock operator.
“We sent them through about six months of college and they worked daily with the lock operators,” Dean explained. “It’s been a good group.”
Mark Abshire, facility manager at both the Kentucky Lock and Dam and Barkley Lock and Dam near Grand Rivers, Ky., also attended and also spoke highly of the four students that trained at his location.
“It’s a great group of trainees. They learned a lot and they’re ready to go. As soon as they graduate they are going to their new position,” Abshire said. “I was three (lock operators) short between Kentucky and Barkley locks so they’re going to fill the gap.”
Corps employees and even the students’ friends and family attended the graduation, which served to motivate the graduates as they fill their positions at the locks.
Linda Caperton, who is now going to report to Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga, Tenn., said she is excited and ready for the challenge.
Caperton said she is appreciative of what she learned at Wilson Lock as she trained to become a lock operator. “Everyone there was cooperative and they helped me through my training. I don’t think I could have done it without them,” she said. “I’m very proud I was able to accomplish this.”
Another graduate, Mike Dozier, said he’s pumped that he will be a lock operator at the Kentucky Lock where he trained and even grew up.
“It was excellent training… everything we expected from a quality organization,” Dozier said. “I am fully confident to lock vessels in a timely and safely manner.”
The other graduates of the class include Todd Smith, Randall King, Jeffery Neely, Brad Marshall, Will Garner and Graham Shuecraft.
Gerald Choat, assistant chief of the Nashville District Navigation Branch, thanked everyone for attending, but specifically noted his appreciation for the Corps operators that spent time and helped train the class in the control stands and maintenance areas, who basically showed them the ropes.