District Commander Col. Rhett A. Blackmon and Deputy District Engineer Byron Williams recognized more than 100 “Champions of the Texas Coast” during the Fiscal Year 2022 Fourth Quarter Awards Ceremony, held September 29, 2022, at the Jadwin Building and virtually via WebEx.
The ceremony recognized employees for their significant individual achievements and group accomplishments.
Several District employees received the commander’s coin for their stand-out efforts during the fourth quarter. Honoring someone with a commander’s coin is a way for the district commander to show their appreciation for a phenomenal job, on the spot. More than just a ‘thank you’ or a pat on the back, the commander’s coin is something tangible to remember the occasion. Recognized were:
- Salvatore M. D’Ambra, a dam safety team member at the Addicks and Baker reservoirs, for conducting a dam safety patrol that identified and monitored desiccation cracks.
- Kenneth K. Darko, a dam safety team member at the Addicks and Baker reservoirs, for conducting a dam safety patrol that identified and monitored desiccation cracks.
- Kelvin D. Harrison, a project assistant at the Addicks and Baker reservoirs, for initiating and completing more than 25 work orders.
- Russell L. Nasrallah, a coastal engineer, for investigating sediment transport processes and breakwater alternatives as part of the Galveston planning assistance to the state of Texas’ offshore breakwater study.
- Sherry L. Salcido, lead ranger at Addicks and Barker reservoirs, for identifying, assessing, and implementing mitigation measures for cracks found in the dam.
- Zachary P. Stafford, a ranger at Addicks and Barker reservoirs, for identifying, assessing, and implementing mitigation measures for cracks found in the dam.
Blackmon made special note of the dam safety team who handled the desiccation cracks at Addicks and Barker.
“From an engineering standpoint … often times it’s not what happens, it’s how you respond to what happens that makes the difference,” Blackmon said. The team’s fast response dramatically reduced the likelihood of the cracks growing into a more significant problem, he said.
“As our boss says, ‘Be responsive. Be relevant. Be ready,” said Blackmon touting the Division Commander Col. Kenneth N. Reed’s motto. “We were all three of those things.”
The District Commander then gave some shout outs to three employees who have been making waves in their respective offices:
- David H. Besikof, for taking the lead on processing all non-federal sponsor written communication.
- Katherine R. Bidot, for stepping into a leadership role on the District’s scheduling team.
- John G. Collins, a program analyst, for his efforts in answering funding data calls with zero discrepancies.
- Jennifer Morgan, an outreach specialist, for her outstanding work ethic and dedication to duty.
- David Paschall, a scheduler, for helping new colleagues learn the PROMIS system.
- Stephanie Saturno, for her outstanding technical skills and guidance.
- Bryan L. Williams, for stepping into a leadership role on the District’s cost share team.
Several employees were awarded some time off for their efforts. They were:
- Heath Barham
- Teri Conley
- Kyle Donlevy
- Richard Edwards
- Amanda Hafemeister
- Justin Hall
- Elton Huff
- Jarod Jantz
- Allen Longoria
- Lisa Mairs
- Mike Nelson
- Alicia Rea
- Charles W. Rowland
- Bernice Taylor
- Rick Vera
- Joe D. Vernier
- Arthur Victor
- Liz Williams
- Ron Wooten
The Matagorda Ship Channel Project Delivery Team was awarded a group certificate of achievement for their work on the project from May 2021 through May 2022. The team worked with the project’s non-federal sponsor to design and provide oversight to improve navigation along the Matagorda Ship Channel. The Champions recognized were:
- Lisa Finn
- Kari Gauntt
- Quinton Johnson
- Konstantinos Kostarelos
- Ashley Neil
- Michael Nelson
- Abram Pinon
- Jeffrey Pinsky
- Ramon Romon-Sanchez
- Justyss Watson
- Nancy Young
The District Commander and the DPM then recognized several employees who achieved their professional engineer licenses:
- Garin Elwell
- Raylene Hylland
- Sara Clark Knoll
Two other District employees received certificates of achievements for their work during the fourth quarter:
- Brandon L. Moehrle, a ranger for Addicks and Barker reservoirs, for his support in identifying, assessing, and implementing mitigation measures for cracks found in the dam.
- Jacqueline J. Wittman, for her contributions to the Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay coastal storm risk management and ecosystem restoration project.
Blackmon then awarded several employees with the Army Civilian Service Achievement Medal. Receiving the medal were:
- David H. Mackintosh, for his achievement as the supervisory natural resources manager for the Houston Project Office.
- Brandon L. Moehrle, for his achievement as a ranger at the Addicks and Barker reservoirs and contributions to the flood risk management mission.
- Stephanie Nieves-Perez, for her achievement as cost engineer in the Engineering and Construction Division.
- Bernice E. Taylor, for her achievement as a project scheduler for the Program and Project Management Division.
- Jason T. Thies, for his achievement as a coastal engineer managing and executing the analysis and delivery of the South Padre Island sand management plan.
Two Champions received the Army Civilian Service Commendation Medal for their commendable service and noted records of honorary service:
- Kurt M. Bunker, a civil engineer, for his outstanding leadership, technical expertise, and 30 years of service to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Byron Smith, an engineer technician for the Houston Project Office, for his exemplary performance in maintaining the Barker Dam.
Blackmon also recognized the district’s “Heroes of the Week” for the quarter:
- Tonya Lippe, for the week of June 24.
- Nichole Schlund, for the week of July 8.
- The Resource Management Budget Team – Kimberly Roberts-Stroud, Gerald Gaines, and Monica Moore, for the week of July 22.
- Luke Prendergast, for the week of August 5.
- Joe Sedtal, for the week of August 19.
- Joe Vernier, for the week of September 2.
- Bernice Taylor, for the week of September 16.
The District also recognized employees who have reached career milestones with length of service certificates. The certificate is used to recognize federal civilian service in five-year increments.
Recognizing 5 years of service were:
- Himangshu S. Das
- Akram Abo-Obeid
- Derek R. Anderson
- Erin S. Diurba
- Paige N. Duhon
- Michael C. Esteban
- Mohammad S. Islam
- Zachary Hinojosa
- Martin Puente Jr.
Recognizing 10 years of service were:
- Eric M. Angle
- Ramon F. Navarro
Recognizing 15 years of service were:
- Duane W. Bieber
- Lisa M. Finn
- Nicholas A. Laskowski
- Joe W. Pollard
- Kenneth P. Poullard
- Ron Wooten
Recognizing 20 years of service were:
- Brian J. Bader
- Felicity A. Cunningham
- Kristi N. McMillan
- Alex Petty
- Malcom J. Sedtal III
- Jose V. Vargas
- Jill C. Wiggins
Recognizing 30 years of service were:
- Karl M. Brown
- Kurl M. Bunker
- Kari M. Gauntt
- Lori K. Thomas
- Samuel J. Watson
Recognizing 35 years of service was Matthew J. Hunn.
Recognizing 40 years of service was Norma G. Garcia.
Recognizing 50 years or service was William J. Hatchett, who received a standing ovation for his lengthy career with the federal government.
“There’s a lot of history and knowledge here,” Blackmon said after acknowledging so many people who have been working with the District and the federal government for so many years. “And what that really translates to is passion for what you do.”
The awards ceremony was followed by a townhall meeting where Blackmon, Williams, and Deputy District Commander Maj. Ian O’Sullivan touched on important topics trending throughout the District.