News: USACE Chief visits Nashville District
Story by Mark Rankin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In a visit to the Nashville District Aug. 30, the Army’s top engineer, Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, the chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, toured the district and key project sites, met with division chiefs and addressed a crowd of Corps employees in a town hall meeting there he stressed the importance of staying ahead of the learning curve with Corps world-wide support to the military, navigation missions and critical infrastructure.
He described how great it is to be an engineer and described the many projects USACE is currently involved with in the U.S., and overseas.
Naming a few, Van Antwerp said the Corps of Engineers currently handles about $45 billion worth of projects on about 100 Army posts and 60 Air Force bases.
Van Antwerp discussed what engineers are accomplishing all over the world, and thanked the Nashville District for its contributions and dedication to projects and the Corps mission.
“I think it is great that he cared enough to visit the Nashville District after we’ve been through so much with the May Floods and to provide us with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) key information and statistics,” said Trena Bradshaw, Nashville District outreach coordinator.
He said Nashville has to keep looking for young fresh talented employees and reminded all to work as a team.
Upon his arrival by helicopter at Old Hickory Dam in Tennessee Van Antwerp was welcomed with a “Low Country Boil” luncheon of shrimp, polish sausage, corn on the cob, broccoli, and potatoes, and serenaded by “Deep Water Boys”, a singing group of including Ralph Ownby, Assistant Chief, Operations Division and Todd Yann, Operations Manager, Nashville Area Office.
“Chef of engineers” Diane Parks, chief of Nashville’s Operation Division, tended the boiling pots with the assistance of Bill Woodard, chief counsel; Operations Managers Jim Davis, Tennessee River Area Office and Tom Hale, and Toni Rushing, Western Kentucky Area Office.
Van Antwerp met with employees who had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, a Hydropower training class and 2010 Achieving Greatness and Leadership Excellence (EAGLE) class prior to touring Old Hickory Dam, Lock and Power Plant. He said he was especially proud of Corps employees who have deployed and those currently deployed in overseas contingency operations.
During a tour of the Old Hickory facility, Nashville Area Power Project Manager Olga Beddingfield and Power Plant Supervisor Randy Crabtree told Van Antwerp about the heroic efforts of Mike Ezell, Chris Campbell and Richard Flowers to minimize downstream damage during the May 2010 flood event.
“Amid the noise and vibrations of flood-borne debris crashing into the lock wall and dam, controlled releases were closely coordinated by phone with the Water Management section in Nashville,” Beddingfield said. “An employee was posted on the lock wall to physically observe rising lake levels and when water began lapping over the lock wall, he would raise the gates another couple of inches,” she added.
Directing his remarks to all Nashville District employees, Van Antwerp said, “I want to tell all of you ‘thanks’. You’re just really knocking it out of the ball park. I couldn’t be more proud of you. So keep up the great work.”