NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 4, 2019) – The commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division visited the Nashville District this week for a district overview and project updates. It is the general’s first trip to the district since taking command of the division July 12, 2019.
Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle Jr., received briefings and met with senior leaders, project managers and employees Tuesday at the headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday at Center Hill Dam in Lancaster, Tenn., and Thursday at Kentucky Lock in Grand Rivers, Ky. He also met with partners Thursday at the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and Tennessee National Guard in Nashville, and received an orientation of the area of operations during a National Guard helicopter flight.
“It’s great to see the professional workforce and expertise that we have here in the district, and how well led Nashville District is, and how high the morale is,” Whittle said as he overlooked the downstream cofferdam construction work on the Kentucky Lock Addition Project. “There are really great people and a great culture.”
At every stop, the general took great interest in meeting people and learning about what they do to support the district’s missions, which include flood risk reduction, navigation, hydropower, recreation, emergency management, natural resources, regulatory permitting, engineering, construction and numerous support functions. He recognized employees, presenting several medals and commander’s coins recognizing excellence.
Whittle said he learned a lot during the trip to Center Hill Dam and Kentucky Lock. He noted how much seeing projects and talking with subject matter experts at the hydropower plant and construction sites helps him to grasp important issues he may have to relay to stakeholders and Congressional representatives.
“So it really helps me get a feel for those important pieces of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division,” Whittle added. “It’s always nice to say you’ve been on the ground as you work through issues with senior leaders and elected officials, and even our senior Corps of Engineers officials.”
Stephen G. Durrett, Programs director with the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, and Joseph M. Savage, Regional Business director, accompanied the general throughout the Nashville District visit.
Savage said his interactions with project managers and leadership helps him to understand the nuances and issues that the Nashville District works through to achieve success with each project.
At Center Hill Dam, Savage’s first visit to a hydropower project in the division, he said the briefings and engagement with experts highlighted the complexities of modernizing equipment and rehabilitating hydropower units in coordination with stakeholders in the power industry. And at Kentucky Lock, he said he learned a lot about the impact of the project in relation to movement of vessels in the Inland Waterway throughout the region.
“It’s a great opportunity to understand the impact that the Corps is having here on the long-term navigation impacts in this region,” Savage said. “Kentucky Lock is a lynchpin to connect the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, and the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. It’s an amazing project and I’m excited about it.”
Matt Ricketts, president and chief executive officer of Crounse Corporation and member of the Inland Waterway Users Board, joined Whittle on the tour of Kentucky Lock and Kentucky Lock Addition Project. He is the IWUB representative for the project.
“It’s nice to see the general and his team focusing on getting this project across the goal line. From a navigation and industry perspective, it’s one of the priority projects that we have as a part of our program of trying to update and modernize the lock and dam infrastructure across the inland waterway,” Ricketts said.
Whittle is responsible for delivering engineering and water resource solutions for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, which covers 335,000-square miles and encompasses portions of 17 states, which include the portions of seven states within the Nashville District.
Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, Nashville District commander, said he appreciates the opportunity to showcase the projects and people during the general’s visit.
“Nashville District employees recognized the importance of briefing the general and did a superb job of providing him the necessary technical aspects and background on the missions the district performs on behalf of the region and nation,” Avichal said.
(For news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District go to the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)