NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 9, 2016) – A handful of dedicated
workers are being lauded by Corps of Engineers officials for keeping hydropower
plants operating and navigation locks open when snow and ice inundated portions
of the Cumberland and Tennessee River basins in January.
Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Nashville District commander, said when others justifiably stayed home, there were
a few in the district that made it their mission to keep working despite the
winter weather and hazardous conditions that existed Jan. 22-24.
“They stayed overnight, covered numerous consecutive
shifts, covered down on folks who couldn’t make it, stayed longer than
required, or came in on a day off,” Murphy said. “They kept our projects going through the
storm. Leading folks like this is a
privilege and an honor.”
The district’s personnel maintain 10 dams, nine
hydropower plants and four navigation locks on the Cumberland River and its
tributaries. The district is also responsible for 1,175 navigable river miles
on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and maintains and operates 14 locks at
10 locations on the Tennessee and Clinch Rivers.
Dubbed as “Snowzilla” by some media outlets, this winter
storm made for treacherous road conditions, and made it difficult for most employees
to report for work, especially at Corps projects in rural areas. Nonetheless, many of these committed
personnel slept at work to ensure they would make their next shift, worked
extra shifts, worked shifts in the place of employees who couldn’t make it in,
or just plain braved the elements to report for duty to ensure the district’s
locks and dams remained operational.
Diane Parks, Nashville District Operations Division chief,
said the dams operate around the clock and these heroes covered down to keep the
dams producing hydroelectric power and to keep the locks open for the commerce that
continues to move up and down the waterways.
“Our projects don’t get the luxury of ‘closing’ and our
business must go on in spite of inclement weather,” Parks said.
The district recognized more than a dozen of these
committed employees following the weather event for their actions above and
beyond the call of duty to keep projects operating at Cheatham Lock at Ashland
City, Tenn., Old Hickory Lock at Old Hickory, Tenn., and Barkley Lock at
Kuttawa, Ky., on the Cumberland River, and Pickwick Lock at Counce, Tenn., and
Kentucky Lock at Grand Rivers, Ky., on the Tennessee River.
The district even dispatched one employee to the Dale
Hollow Dam Powerplant to repair a fiber optic cable during the storm.
Stacy Angel, powerplant operator at Cordell Hull Dam,
packed up food and supplies and drove to Dale Hollow Dam to fix a T-1 line and
to facilitate hydropower operations.
At Barkley Lock, Chris Dean slept at the project after his
late shift, helped clear the snow off the lock walls during the day, and then
worked another late shift.
Mark Hall, lock operator at Cheatham Lock, worked four
consecutive shifts and basically kept Cheatham Lock operating through the
Parks noted that these were just a few of the examples of
the dedication of the employees who were recognized for working through the
Randy Boyd, Thomas Cherry, Mike Christianson, Joseph
Traughber, Lisa Barker, Richard Flowers, Greg Forte, Julie Howell and Jeremy
Wallace are the other employees recognized for their efforts to keep projects
“The fact they were able to keep the projects going when
others were ‘stuck at home’ makes them heroes in my book,” Parks said.
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.)