NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 2, 2016) – Nashville District employees tuned into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division commander today during the general’s first visit to Music City.
Brig. Gen. Mark Toy toured the Nashville District headquarters office spaces, met with employees and held a town hall meeting at the nearby First Baptist Church where he spoke about the importance of taking care of people, maintaining great facilities, and executing the Corps of Engineers’ missions.
“People are the foundation of everything we do,” Toy said. “If we provide them with the training and the facilities for them to be successful, they’re going to come to work happy. I, as a commander, don’t have to worry about execution because it is going to happen.”
In passing along his leadership philosophy, the general said Corps employees will go to great lengths in terms of service if supervisors have their back. That could be accomplished with actions such as making sure they are trained, providing great work environments, and following up with awards and recognition for excellence, he added.
“If you are looking out for your people I guarantee you folks they are going to look out for you,” Toy said. “What makes you a great leader is not how far you’ve gotten in an organization, but really how you develop others.”
Toy ended the town hall meeting in a positive way recognizing some of the great employees in the Nashville District.
Maritere Gonzalez, administrative assistant in the Planning Branch, is one of the hard chargers who received a surprise achievement award.
“I think it’s great for him to take time on his first visit to come talk with us and provide an overview of our mission,” said Gonzalez.
The general then met with senior leaders and recognized several other employees at the district headquarters for their outstanding duty and performance.
Adrienne Washington and Donna Davis, both budget analysts with the Operations Division, received command coins from Toy for their work on the 2016 year-end budget.
“It was great to meet him, get a coin and talk with him about our jobs,” said Washington. “He seemed interested and really cares about what we do here in the Nashville District. As he asked each of us our names and jobs, I could see it was important to him to understand what we do.”
Toy seemed to relish talking with workers and they were impressed by his attentiveness to their comments and opinions.
“It’s a great honor and humbling experience to be here in Nashville,” said Toy. “I want to thank you for all the hard work and dedication you do to make this district better.”
Following the headquarters visit, Toy traveled to the Kentucky Lock Addition Project where Project Manager Don Getty and Resident Engineer Jody Robinson provided a tour and updated him on the progress of construction of a 110-foot by 1,200-foot lock adjacent and landward of the existing 110-foot by 600-foot lock to accommodate modern barge tows.
Getty led Toy across Kentucky Lock to the new partially constructed addition and provided details on the construction of the new lock. He walked on top of the new lock walls and inside the lock valves and the existing structure really impressed the general.
“This is an amazing project and was a great visit because it is a positive step forward to address our aging facilities,” said Toy.
Toy also walked across the original Kentucky lock wall, stopped to observe a tow boat and barge, and Getty briefed him of how much time it takes for a barge to lock through and the how much time will be saved when the new lock is constructed.
“The new lock will eliminate these delays and result in a much more efficient river transportation system,” said Getty. “Most of the products that go through the Kentucky Lock effect our everyday life and items such as coal, building materials, agricultural products, fuel, and products that make us more competitive globally.”
The Corps is constructing a new navigation lock at Kentucky Dam to reduce the significant bottleneck that the 600-foot-long current lock causes on this important waterway. Because of high Tennessee River traffic levels and the current lock’s size, the average delay times for commercial tows going through Kentucky Lock average from seven to over nine hours – near the highest in the country.
The total cost for the Kentucky Lock project is $862 million with about $392 million expended to date, or about 45 percent complete. If efficient future funding levels are provided, the earliest expected completion date is 2023.
“This tour has been great and I have a better understanding of these enormous structures, the importance of the project, how it will eliminate delays and result in a much more efficient river transportation system, key roles people play in completing the project, and most importantly keeping commerce coming through these locks,” said Robinson. “We are happy that the General came for the visit. He was very engaged, asked great questions and was very interested in our jobs.”
Nashville District’s responsibilities in the Cumberland-Tennessee River Basins, which touch seven states and cover 59,000 square miles, include operating and maintaining 1,175 commercially navigable river miles with 14 navigation lock projects plus nine hydropower plants capable of producing more than 914 megawatts of clean electricity.
“I’m very impressed with the people in the Nashville District and proud of everyone for their hard work, dedication and commitment to our mission,” said Toy.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorpsand on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)