NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 28, 2022) – A park ranger is being lauded for coordinating an important project to publicize and feature Center Hill Dam in a National Inventory of Dams video titled “Exploring Our Nation’s Dams.”
In large part by her efforts to lead and organize support for the film crew’s visit to the project, Ashley Webster, natural resources specialist at Center Hill Lake, is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Employee of the Month for November 2021.
In the weeks leading up to the filming Nov. 1-3, Webster took on a developmental assignment as a team leader overseeing environmental compliance at Cordell Hull Lake on the Cumberland River. In taking on the temporary position, she requested to be allowed to finish the job with the NID video, which her supervisors approved.
Lt. Col. Joseph Sahl, Nashville District commander, announced her selection as employee of the month, recognizing her demonstrated excellence and personal effort to go the extra mile by assuming additional duties, but also for seeing the national video project through to its conclusion.
“The production required Ashley to work with the film crew, fellow district employees, and stakeholders, all while serving on her developmental assignment,” Sahl said. “The level of pride, dedication and commitment Ashley has shown to her team and the mission makes her the perfect candidate for employee of the month.”
The NID staff picked Center Hill Dam for the video to highlight the purposes and benefits of larger Corps of Engineers dams as part of a rollout of an updated NID website. With wide visibility, Center Hill Lake Resource Manager Kevin Salvilla entrusted Webster with handling all the details with USACE Headquarters, Nashville District leadership, personnel at the dam and powerplant, and with stakeholders such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which scheduled a delivery of trout to the tailwater from the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery during filming.
“I knew she was ready, prepared and looking for an opportunity to get some positive exposure for the project,” Salvilla said. “She convinced the Headquarters Dam Safety Levee Program team that this is where they needed to film. In fact, when the producer showed up on day of filming, he made a statement about how he wished all the other locations were this great to work with.”
Salvilla said it goes without saying that Webster is fully supported by a dynamic and high-performing impact team at Center Hill Lake and Dam, and they encourage and support one another, which makes the project successful and a great place to work. He noted that Webster is a good teammate and very supportive and has an excellent work ethic.
“Whether the task is technical in nature or required that she roll up her sleeves – she gets to work and that is what I think people respect,” Salvilla said.
Center Hill Dam is located on the Caney Fork River in Lancaster, Tennessee. It is a 250-foot-high, 1,382-foot-long concrete dam with a 778-foot earthen embankment. The dam supports flood risk management, hydropower, water quality, water storage and recreation. The Nashville District constructed the dam from 1942 to 1948, although construction halted for two years during World War II. The Corps completed the hydropower plant in 1950, which supplies enough hydroelectricity for an average city of 125,000 people. The 64-mile reservoir with 415 miles of shoreline also provides lots of recreational opportunities for the public.
Webster said the team of employees that work at Center Hill Lake and the dam are incredible people, so she really wanted to support the video to draw attention to their many contributions, in addition to highlighting the dam and its purposes. She said that she certainly didn’t expect to be named employee of the month for her efforts.
“I was caught completely off guard to receive the recognition – what an honor,” Webster said. “The three days of production could not have been done without the support and readiness of coworkers at Center Hill Lake.”
Webster said she had to overcome challenges for a couple of weeks at both lakes to meet her responsibilities, and then had to support the film crew, which put in 10-hour days at Center Hill Dam.
Kenny Claywell, Cordell Hull Lake resource manager, who nominated Webster for recognition, noted that she also excelled in her temporary position as the environmental compliance coordinator at the water resource developmental project with several hundred miles of shoreline and heavy public recreational use.
At Cordell Hull Lake, Webster and team of park rangers worked to prepare plans related to natural resources and environmental compliance requirements They also advised on environmental compliance matters, accomplished natural resources duties and programs, managed real estate matters, conducted utilization inspections, and checked for encroachments and trespasses on public property. She also worked with the resource manager and park maintenance staff to develop new operations and maintenance techniques to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness of the environmental compliance program.
“She was responsible for inspection and replacement of numerous safety items such as first aid and blood borne pathogen kits, fire extinguishers, eye washes and for creating a digital repository for safety data sheets,” Claywell said. “She has a high level of pride and dedication in her job.”
Webster is a 2011 graduate of Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and concentration in Agricultural Engineering. She has served stints with the Nashville District at Dale Hollow Lake, Cordell Hull Lake, Lake Cumberland, and Center Hill Lake since 2010.
She said her husband Travis supports her career with the Corps of Engineers and pursuit of new challenges.
“Sometimes those challenges take away from time outside of work whether I have to commute farther away or stay late to deal with a park issue; he understands my job and how important it is for me,” Webster said.
In her off time, Webster said she loves kayaking, cooking, reading, and board games.
“I love kayaking since it’s a simple way to connect with nature. Nothing is better than sitting a few inches above the water, physically propelling yourself while surrounded by a beautiful backdrop of nature. Also, my West Highland Terrier Maisy rarely misses a trip on the water,” she added.
(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.)