News: Administrative assistants see Watts Bar Lock dewatering operation
Story by Leon Roberts
DECATUR, Tenn. – A group of 29 administrative assistants and office workers assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District toured Watts Bar Lock here today to see the ongoing dewatering operation.
Joanne Mann, Nashville District executive assistant, who led the group and organized the trip, talked during the visit about the importance of getting these office workers out to see the projects they support but seldom get to see.
“Every year we have Administrative Professionals Day, and we recognize our administrative professionals at that time,” Mann explained. “I also try to have some learning or educational experiences for them as well. It gets them out of the office allowing them to experience all the good work the district is doing. This is what we are doing here today.”
During the tour, Keith Holley, Watts Bar Lock facility manager, welcomed the group and explained how the maintenance crews are inspecting and repairing the lock. He then arranged to lower four people at a time down into the dewatered lock and allowed them to enter the concrete chambers where water usually enters and exits the lock.
Marilyn Raines, a supply technician from J. Percy Priest Dam in Nashville, Tenn., went into the concrete recesses and said she is impressed with seeing the areas of the lock that are usually under water.
“It was pretty neat. At first I was wondering if I was going to make it as I’m a little claustrophobic,” Raines said. “But once I got in there I was ok. It was a good experience to see how this all works and what these guys have to go through every day. They do a lot of hard work.”
Retia Jones, an administrative assistant at the Eastern Kentucky Area Office at Somerset, Ky., also entered the lock and left impressed by her experience.
“I loved it! I’ve been so excited since Joanne said we were going to get to go,” Jones said. “It’s really amazing what goes on. This is something I’ve never seen before. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Jones said when she entered the tubes she asked her guide how much water was behind where she stood. “It was a little nerve racking but I loved it,” she said when she learned how near she was from the water in the Tennessee River.
As an administrative assistant, Jones added that seeing the maintenance crews at work in the lock helped her understand the importance of her mission back in the office.
“It’s good to see what a lot of them go through and when they need special equipment we need to do purchase orders and get it for them for their safety,” Jones stressed.
When the administrative assistants went into the lock, they wore safety harnesses, rubber boots and pristine white protective suits. When they left, many of them sported soiled outfits, a testament of their learning experience in the field.
“I think it went great. We had an excellent turnout. People were enthusiastic and they went down in [the lock] … they got dirty and they had a good time,” Mann said.