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Keystone Lake volunteers receive national recognition

By Preston Chasteen, Deputy Chief, Public Affairs, Tulsa District

Tulsa, Okla. – Orville and Pauline Nichols received the “Volunteer Enduring Service Award” presented by Col. Christopher Hussin, Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander on behalf of the Corps Foundation September 22, 2016, at the Case Community Center, Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

The Nichols perform their volunteer work at Keystone Lake and play a vital role in the continued success of the project to positively enhance the public’s experience.

Orville and Pauline began volunteering with the Corps at Keystone Lake in 1995, and to date have 21 years of service.

“Often times Orville and Pauline are on the front lines along with our rangers and they see the public first,” stated Kent Dunlap, Tulsa District Natural Resources and Recreation Branch Chief. “They work with the public in such a way that it keeps them coming back and that’s because they know how to treat people, and it shows.”

The Nichols have volunteered over 26,000 hours of their time and have saved the Corps of Engineers an estimated $500,000.

During the floods of 2015, the Nichols were among the last to leave the campgrounds and the first to return. They immediately started cleaning up debris in order to facilitate a quick re-opening of the campgrounds after the flood waters subsided.

“The Nichols are great ambassadors to the local community, they are obviously great representatives of the Corps and what they do is just amazing,” stated Hussin. “As I look around our district I continue to be amazed at our volunteer force of folks like Orville and Pauline who take care of our parks as if it were their very own.  We certainly couldn’t do it without them.”

This is the first year the Enduring Service Volunteer Award has been presented as it was established in January 2016 by the “The Corp

Col. Christopher Hussin, Commander, Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joins Greg Miller, Chairperson Board of Directors, The Corps Foundation, in presenting Orville and Pauline Nichols with the “Volunteer Enduring Service Award,” Sept. 22, at the Case Community Center, Sand Springs, Okla.  The Nichols received the national award for their contribution of over 26,000 hours of volunteer work to Keystone Lake.
Col. Christopher Hussin, Commander, Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joins Greg Miller, Chairperson Board of Directors, The Corps Foundation, in presenting Orville and Pauline Nichols with the “Volunteer Enduring Service Award,” Sept. 22, at the Case Community Center, Sand Springs, Okla. The Nichols received the national award for their contribution of over 26,000 hours of volunteer work to Keystone Lake. (Photo by Preston Chasteen)

s Foundation.”

The Nichols will receive a plaque from “The Corps Foundation,” $250 cash from Bass Pro Shops, and a $250 gift card from Bass Pro Shops.

The return of Mr. Pat

The newly refurbished Mr. Pat floats, tied to a barge on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigations System at Lock & Dam 14 near Spiro, Oklahoma.  Mr. Pat is the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tow boat that facilitates the movement of a 150 foot barge, housing a crane used for major repairs on the five lock & dam systems of the MKARNS within the Tulsa District. (Photo by Preston Chasteen/Released)
The newly refurbished Mr. Pat floats, tied to a barge on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigations System at Lock & Dam 14 near Spiro, Oklahoma. Mr. Pat is the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tow boat that facilitates the movement of a 150 foot barge, housing a crane used for major repairs on the five lock & dam systems of the MKARNS within the Tulsa District. (Photo by Preston Chasteen/Released)

The return of Mr. PatThe return of Mr. PatThe return of Mr. Patby Preston Chasteen

TULSA, Okla.- The Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently returned their maintenance tow boat, Mr. Pat, to service, after receiving major refurbishment upgrades at Ensley Engineers Yard in Memphis, Tennessee.

The four deck, 82 foot long vessel, facilitates the movement of a 150 foot barge, housing a crane used for major repairs of the five lock & dams on the Oklahoma side of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigations System.

In Oklahoma, the MKARNS is managed and maintained by the Tulsa District.

Refurbishment of Mr. Pat included two new engines boasting a combined 2,000 horsepower.

Each engine drives a five and a half inch shaft, 20 feet long, which propels a five blade, 66 inch prop.

“The boat performs really well now that the horsepower has been increased. Before the boat was always in a struggle, it was in a struggle just pushing itself around,” stated Capt. Kelly Youngblood.

The new electronically controlled engines replace the old air control system and offer a greater degree of responsiveness.

All engine diagnostics were upgraded to provide immediate data read-out, available for viewing on digital control panels.

The tow can hold 24,000 gallons of diesel fuel for operations, and at the rate of 1,700 rpm’s, can consume up to 40 gallons of fuel an hour, per engine. However, at idle, the fuel consumption rate can be as low as 3 gallons an hour.

Mr. Pat’s electrical systems are supported by two 105 kilowatt generators. One is used as a primary and one as a backup should the need arise.

Youngblood and a crew of four can sleep on the boat which provides the crew access to three bathrooms, two showers and a full kitchen.

Living amenities are supported with 2,500 gallons of fresh water divided amongst two 1,250 gallon water tanks.

“The only thing that stops us from working is a lot of wind and a lot of current,” said Youngblood.

In as recent as 2014, Oklahoma Department of Transportation reported that the Oklahoma portion of MKARNS supported waterborne commerce totaling 5.7 million tons of cargo with a value of $2.56 billion to the economy.

Mr. Pat and crew are an integral part of maintenance operations along the Tulsa District portion of this economically important inland water way.

The vessel is permanently housed out of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Terminal, near the navigation project office in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

Youngblood and his crew aboard Mr. Pat not only support the five lock and dam systems in the Tulsa District from W.D. Mayo L&D 14, near Spiro, Oklahoma, to Newt Graham L&D 18, but also will dispatch to perform maintenance in other districts when needed.