Participants in Huntsville Center’s current Leadership Development Program Level II traveled to Lancaster, Tennessee, to get a closer look at Nashville District’s ongoing rehabilitation project at Center Hill Dam, July 20.
LDP strives to expand employees’ knowledge about their organization and the entire Army Corps of Engineers. The Huntsville Center LDP II includes on-the-job assignments and cross-training which encompasses classroom study, outside reading assignments, local field trips and brown bag seminars.
Group members took a prior trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in the spring before heading to Tennessee in July.
“I love seeing people in the USACE family and all the pride that they have for what they do,” said Michael Braddock, Energy Engineering Analysis Program manager. “That was something great for me to see.”
Center Hill Dam Resource Manager Kevin Salvilla shared a background briefing with the Huntsville Center group about the nearly 70-year-old dam that included a look at the structure’s multifaceted mission to provide area residents with everything from clean water and flood protection to recreation and environmental stewardship.
The dam was begun in 1942 and completed in 1948. The only break in construction coming during World War II so men and material could support the war effort. Now, Center Hill Lake boasts 415 miles of shoreline along 64 miles of the Caney Fork River, a tributary to the Cumberland River that flows into Nashville.
These types of knowledge sharing trips between districts, divisions and centers can have a positive ripple effect across the Army Corps, according to Savilla.
“The benefit to sharing our work and the we way we do things with other USACE organizations goes beyond a single project,” Salvilla said. “This can allow us to all learn from each other and apply those lessons to our own projects at our individual organizations.”
The Center Hill Dam Safety Rehabilitation Project is a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort that has been broken up into three phases. The first two phases, begun in 2008, are now effectively complete and provided for the repair of the earthen embankment abutting the main concrete dam.
The third phase, ongoing now, will shore up a nearby earthen “saddle dam” that fills a low area of the lake’s rim.
Getting to see the massive machinery and equipment required for such large projects helped provide contract specialist Lena Andrews with a perspective she can’t get back at the office.
“It gave me a reference point on why stuff costs so much,” Andrews said. “In contracting, we’re sitting at our desk and it can be like ‘no way’ does a chain cost that much.”
The chance to get hands and eyes on interactions with Corps projects is one of the crucial benefits of LDP II, according to Archella George, with Resource Management. George noted she knows plenty of co-workers with years in the Corps who have never been to a project site.
“This ties into one of the many reasons why I think the LDP program is a value to any career program at the Corps,” George said. “Being an accountant, I do not get the opportunity to get as involved in Center-wide projects as some of my team members. As a program participant, I get a better understanding of what we do in the Center through the trips and interactions with my teammates.”
The program is open to anyone at the Center who is interested in developing their leadership skills.