News: Corps Distinguished Civilian Employees named at ceremony
Story by Mark Rankin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District celebrated 125 years of service to the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers Basins, and to the nation at an open house and award ceremony that culminated with the announcement of two Distinguished Civilian Employees at the Estes Kefauver Federal Building.
District employees, retirees, former employees and special guests gathered at the formal awards ceremony and recognized current District employees with 35, 30, 25, 20, 10, and 5 year Length of Service awards to the Corps.
Lt. Col. John L. Hudson presented Avis Kennedy and John “Jody” Stanton, two retired Nashville District employees, with the prestigious Distinguished Civilian Employee award for 2013.
This award is presented to retired employees that have been retired for two or more years, served in the Corps at least 20 years, and have displayed outstanding leadership with exception and preeminence among their peers and contributed substantially to the reputation and honor of the Corps of Engineers through their service.
At the end of the ceremony, Billy Grantham, retired District employee presented a plaque of recognition to Dr. Leland Johnson, on behalf of the Nashville District.
Over a career that spanned 33 years, Avis Kennedy held a number of vital positions. Perhaps the most noteworthy of her jobs was as chief of the Natural Resources Management Branch, Operations Division, and led that office efficiently and effectively from December 1996 until she retired in 2011.
“I really enjoyed working for the Corps and loved my job as chief of the Natural Resource Management Branch because it allowed me to help hire some of the best and brightest young people,” said Kennedy. “I consider that to be the best way to touch the future of the organization.”
Kennedy first worked as a park ranger at Old Hickory Lake helping to implement the shoreline management program and worked as an outdoor recreation planner, managing programs such as water safety, recreation use fees, and visitor assistance.
“It is impossible to describe the impact the Corps has had on my life,” said Kennedy. "I do want to thank my family for patience and support, the many wonderful people who worked for me and the leaders who I worked for that empowered me to provide good stewardship and high quality outdoor recreation for 33 years.”
During her tenure in the Natural Resources Management Branch, she was lauded for her excellent work serving as acting Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Natural Resources chief intermittently throughout the years.
“Avis is an exceptional leader and great communicator,” said Andreas Patterson, a biologist in the Operations Division who worked for Kennedy. “She knew how the Corps’ specific areas operated and what was required of each job.”
Kennedy said she began her career with the Corps in 1978 as a park ranger at Cordell Hull Lake and is grateful for the opportunity to work in the Nashville District.
Kennedy's commitment to environmental stewardship and work to implement the Corps’ first Clean Marina Program helped the Nashville District garner national attention and her efforts led to the resolution of many complex issues to balance the demand for development around the lakes, while protecting the natural resources for future generations.
John "Jody" Stanton
John “Jody” Stanton’s Corps career spanned 38 years.
He began working in 1973 as a geologist and has been a technical expert supporting the Corps at both the regional and national level.
He served as chief of the Geology Section beginning in 1993 and led his office as a mentor and motivator who demonstrated a keen understanding of his people, a devoted public servant and displayed the utmost loyalty and dedication to serving the Nashville District.
He managed his staff through a very busy period and provided technical oversight for the geologic aspects of design for Kentucky Lock and Chickamauga Lock additions, and the Wolf Creek and Center Hill major rehabilitation projects.
When Stanton began his career with the Corps, he was immediately assigned to a drill rig investigating the seepage issues at Wolf Creek Dam. He was eventually transferred to work on field investigations for the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway at Bay Springs, Ala.
Early in his career he also designed and managed geotechnical field investigations programs including subsurface exploration, instrumentation, geophysics and laboratory testing of rock and soil.
At the award ceremony, Stanton thanked his teammates for their support that helped him garner the district’s recognition.
“My heartfelt thanks to all the guys in the Geology sections and I want to thank everyone for this recognition,” said Stanton.
For his continued work over the years at the Wolf Creek Dam project, Hudson presented Stanton a miniature concrete casting pile from a final section of the Wolf Creek Remediation Project in March of 2013.
“You have a rich history with the Wolf Creek Dam project and many of the major projects we’ve had in the district for the last 37 years and we’re proud of your work,” said Hudson.
In addition to his technical work, Stanton was a member of the writing team for the District’s Baldridge quality improvement submittals to the Army Performance Improvement Criteria and the Tennessee Quality resulting in an award for the district.
From 2000 to 2001 he was the Program Manager for the District Leadership Development Program with Belmont University and during a developmental assignment as the assistant chief of the Engineering and Construction Division he initiated and oversaw the digitizing of all of the district’s historical design drawings, an important step in making them available in digital format for future use.
“He was a good chief. I enjoyed working with him and the geology section will always remember him,” said Tong Haw, senior geologist in the Engineer and Construction Branch.
During his years at the district, Stanton’s poetry was regular feature of numerous retirement ceremonies and he read a special poem entitled “Wall” for the occasion.
Stanton worked diligently until he retired in 2011.
To learn more about the Nashville District’s 125th Anniversary click here.