NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 20, 2021) – Ryan Johnson, lockmaster at Guntersville Lock in Grant, Alabama, is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Employee of the Month for May 2021. He is recognized primarily for his leadership at Guntersville Lock and as team leader during a repair action at Wilson Lock in Florence, Alabama.
“Even though Ryan has a very demanding and time-consuming job at Guntersville Lock, he was more than willing to come help out another project when asked,” said Clay Askew, Wilson Lock lockmaster. “Ryan's contributions to the caisson slot repairs resulted in improved operations at Wilson Lock.”
Lt. Col. Joseph M. Sahl, Nashville District commander, announced Johnson’s selection and said his willingness to share his knowledge and skills with others is recognized as a driving force behind the execution of caisson slot work at Wilson Lock May 3-15.
“His knowledge and experience regarding this type of repair work ensured the mission was completed safely, effectively, and on time,” said Sahl.
The caisson slots are located along the approach walls to the navigation lock and are used to create a seal to pump out water. The team installed steel and repaired concrete in the slots, making it possible to conduct future repairs to the lock in dry conditions.
“I have always just volunteered to help when I was needed,” said Johnson, who has been with the Nashville District for 20 years. “This helps with our ability to mobilize quick and have the repairs made in a timely manner. This in turn helps everyone up and down the river receives greatly-needed goods that are being shipped on our river systems.”
Throughout the project, Johnson showed great leadership, passing on knowledge of his past experiences with team members to make the daily repairs needed to get the job done right.
“Ryan is by definition, in my opinion, a model employee for USACE for the work he performs,” said Askew, “since hiring on with the USACE over 20 years ago, Ryan has taken great pride in every job he has performed throughout the district.”
Wilson and Guntersville Locks are Tennessee Valley Authority projects. The Nashville District operates and maintains them along with seven other locks on the Tennessee River that serve recreational vessels and commercial barge traffic moving up and down the river to deliver goods and services throughout the region.
At Guntersville Lock, Johnson has been addressing issues with the project transformers for almost two years, working tirelessly with the Electrical Services Section, the Tennessee Valley Authority Powerhouse personnel, and the Tennessee Valley Authority Power Service Shop for numerous hours scheduling and assisting with repairs.
He has also contributed to several lock sites over the years, starting out as a summertime laborer for Guntersville Lock during a dewatering in 1999. He worked part-time at Demopolis Lock in the Mobile District as a summertime laborer from 2000 until 2001.
From 2002 until 2012, Johnson worked in the Nashville District repair party at the Florence repair station. He began as a laborer and trained his way up to become a welder and crane operator. He traveled to all the locks on the Cumberland River and Tennessee River, working on various types of equipment. He also worked with the Nashville Fleet during this time.
Johnson transferred to Nickajack Lock in Jasper, Tennessee, in 2013 and worked as a mechanic for almost three years. While there he assisted with all dewaterings and helped the fleet and repair party when needed. During this time at Nickajack his son was born.
In 2015, Johnson transferred to Guntersville Lock where he has been working since. He began as a mechanic and became the lockmaster. The lock is 16 miles from his home and where he grew up. “I have always liked going out and helping other projects on big jobs,” Johnson said, “I guess this comes from my traveling experience in the repair party and helping the fleet.”
Johnson is a seasoned lockmaster, but still faces some obstacles on the job. “The most challenging thing with my job as a lockmaster, now, probably is keeping up on all of the updates, new regulations, and paperwork to stay up to date,” he said.
Nonetheless, Johnson has risen to meet all challenges his job ensues and leads by example. “Without Ryan's outstanding effort and willingness to keep working with all parties involved until the job was done,” said Askew, “these repairs would not have been completed in such an excellent manner.”
Johnson works hard when it comes to his job, but still finds time to enjoy extracurricular hobbies. “I have several hobbies, but the main ones are spending time with my family and friends, hunting, and fishing,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s hard work and dedication on the job not only saves time and money for sites like the Guntersville Lock and Wilson Lock, he also helps fellow lock employees learn new and effective ways to perform their duties.
“He is a great leader there and within Mid-Tennessee River Area and is always willing to use and share his experience to improve our assets on the Tennessee River,” said Askew.
Johnson’s hard work and dedication helped him stand out amongst the peers who nominated him.
“I am very honored to have received this employee of the month, and also proud to be nominated by guys I work with on a daily basis” Johnson said, “I have learned a lot working for the Nashville District the last 20 years and have worked around some great people.”
Although Johnson is the employee awarded this month’s honor, he gives a lot of the credit to his coworkers. “I feel this award should really go to all the employees in the field not just me, we all preform hard work every day. We all have to work together as a team to accomplish so much, and I feel we have a great team in the Nashville District,” Johnson said.
According to Sahl, “His high level of service and professionalism reflect great credit upon him and the District. When I talked to Ryan, he made sure I knew that he was part of a great team and this award is a reflection of that.”
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on 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. The public can also follow Guntersville Lock on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/guntersvillelock and Wilson Lock at http://www.facebook.com/wilsonnavlock.)