U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Command Sergeant Major Antoio S. Jones visited the Sacramento District for the first time August 16-17.
Jones’s itinerary included visits to two district-operated reservoirs, Black Butte Lake and Englebright Lake, as well as the Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway project.
While touring Englebright Lake by boat, Jones spoke with park rangers and other park employees about their regular duties, discussing their everyday challenges, such as public enforcement of day-use permits, Jones also took particular interest in hearing each individual’s journey that brought them to work at the lake, and the Corps.
Doug Grothe, who has served at Englebright Lake since 1984 and now serves as its park manager, also explained why he believes his lake, with its boat-in campsites and scenic views nestled in the Sierra Nevada, is the best in the district.
In Folsom, Jones was impressed not only by the size of the under-construction Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway, also known as the Joint Federal Project, but by the team’s strong commitment to safety.
Bryan Hinzman, safety and occupational health specialist for the project, described the importance of collaborative safety walk-throughs and senior partnering meetings the Corps held with contractors during high risk activities.
“A lot of it is having dedicated Corps’ safety staff on site at all times,” said Hinzman. “We do inspections regularly so safety is really well thought out.”
After viewing the mega-project, Jones acknowledged the importance teamwork with partners and stakeholders plays in a project of this scale.
“We deal with so many groups in order to bring these big projects together, it’s a massive coordination effort to meet our Nation’s needs,” said Jones.
Cathy Wise, resident engineer at the Joint Federal Project office, echoed those sentiments and emphasized the value of showing off the hard work and effort, at all levels, team members contribute to make the Corps successful.
“It’s an awesome experience to share what we do,” said Wise. “Like the Command Sgt. Maj. said, ‘boots on the ground’ gives them a very different perspective from the 30,000-foot level at headquarters.”
As the senior enlisted advisor to the Corps’ commanding officers and staff, Jones will take what he’s learned back to Corps headquarters in Washington D.C. According to Jones, the foundational tasks of taking care of people, delivering the program and achieving the vision can clearly be seen in the Sacramento District.
“[There is] great leadership out here and some creative and innovative workers that have found a way to do more with less,” said Jones during the visit. “We’re servicing the local population the best we can while still making the mission happen.”