NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (Nov. 12, 2015) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District celebrated the opening of the resource manager’s office and the lock master’s offices at Cheatham Dam today nearly five years after the May 2010 flood damaged the office space, lock master’s facility and supply buildings.
More than 75 people including the Cheatham County Sherriff, Ashland City Mayor, local emergency personnel and state representatives attended the ceremony.
Cheatham Resource Manager, Larry Nash, welcomed more than the crowd to the new buildings that incorporates many energy efficient and sustainable features and amenities not found in the buildings that flooded in 2010.
During the ceremony, in recalling the May 2010 flood, Nash played a slide show of flood damage, a 300-slide showing the construction of the new building, told stories of how quickly the water rose and commended his staff for their quick actions.
The high-flood waters from the Cumberland River submerged both buildings that left the staff working out of double-wide trailers.
Nash said they lost all computers, personal items, historical paper records and many other items, but the staff worked hard to reconstruct everything following the flood.
"We are proud of the staff and employees,” said Nash. We literally had to rebuild everything from the ground up just like area residents had to rebuild their homes.”
The lock aand resource manager's office was closed on the weekend of May 1-3 when the lock and dam took a direct hit from nature when heavy rainfall saturated the Cumberland River and nearby river, and left Cheatham totally submerged underwater.
"I was just as shocked as anyone else by the flood," said Nash who rescured two lock operators by boat during the storm. Nash said the water rose fast and there was no time to relocated several vehicles parked near the maintenance garage.
Although the dam is designed to perform this way in a high-water event, the lock and resource manager's facilities were completly flooded.
"We felt we'd get some area flooding and even sand bagged several buildings and put computers and files up on desks, but din't expect this much water," said Nash.
After nearly two years after the flood, clearing debris, cleaning wooded areas, and hauling trash the Corps broke ground on the new 6,200-square-foot building and it took more than two years to construct.
The $2.4 million project was designed by Barge Wagner, Sumner and Cannon Inc. and constructed by Futron Inc.
The new resource manager’s office facility provides needed work spaces necessary for the staff and park rangers to support natural resources and recreation programs that are available to the public at Cheatham Lake, the campground and lock area.
"This is a grand facility that should be here a lot longer than after I retire,” said Nash. “This has been a long road and it is good to be back in our new, permanent home."
The new lock upgrades include: digital monitors, lighting systems, a modern kitchen and state-of-the-art wiring. The pre-fabricated building was designed to fit on top of the pre-existing basement from the old facility.
"These buildings are not just for us but they are for the community too and we welcome the community to stop by and see them and how they are used,” said Nash.
Nash highlighted one of his favorite features of the new resource building is a large conference center, which can accommodate about 30 people and includes a computer operated smart board, overhead projector and speakers. Another feature is an amphitheater, which is behind the building.
Nash said Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove recently hosted a meeting with other sheriffs from Middle Tennessee in the conference room and enjoyed the space.
Nash said the new building is patterned after the building located at Cordell Hull Lake near Carthage, Tenn.
Nash said community groups or organizations are welcome to use the conference center during weekday office hours as the scheduling permits.
“This is a really nice building and it is a much better improvement than the older lock office,” said Dallas Barfield, lock operator from the Cheatham Lock and Dam.
Corps staff provided tours during the open house of the Resource Office and Lock Office and answered questions about Cheatham Lake.
Visitors were invited to visit areas that are normally off limits that included the lock house.
"We went through something bad, but we went through it together and we got through it,” said Nash.
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The Resource Manager’s Office at 1798 Cheatham Dam Rd. in Ashland City. For more information about this event, call 615-792-5697.