All posts by ejimenez

Some Things are Better Left Undisturbed

Looting or vandalizing a Native American burial ground, or digging for or removing archaeological artifacts from government property is an escalating problem, and action is being taken to stop it. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has partnered with various agencies such as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Historic Preservation, and the Osage Nation to spread awareness about the issue and step up efforts to stem the escalating problem of looting.

The goal of this partnership is to not only increase the number of investigations taking place in order to deter individuals from seeking out artifacts on government lands, but to also seek out convictions to show that this is a serious issue that will not be taken lightly.

Aaron Boswell, a ranger for the Little Rock District, installs looting signage at one of the Corps’ many parks. Signage is now being placed at Corps parks in order to bring exposure to the penalties one will incur if found in violation of the law. Not only will perpetrators face prison time up to 5 years without parole, fines can also amount to $250,000.

Signage is now being placed at Corps parks in order to bring exposure to the penalties one will incur if found in violation of the law. Not only will perpetrators face prison time up to five years without parole, fines can also amount to $250,000. Two Arkansan men were recently sentenced to 36 months of jail time and were each ordered to pay restitution of $2,000.

However, this is not an issue solely relegated to Arkansas. In Mississippi, six individuals were sentenced in federal court after being convicted of removing artifacts from government land. Removing or digging up archeological artifacts on federal or tribal lands is a violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. In this particular case artifacts were removed from Corps of Engineers property. Each individual’s sentence varied with one having to pay restitution of more than $41,000.

Excavating for artifacts and selling them for monetary gain is not only unethical, it’s a gross violation of Native Americans’ spiritual beliefs. These artifacts are not merely objects of art, they are sacred. When asked why these items are viewed as sacred, Casandra Beaver a Navajo Indian and Little Rock District Administrative Assistant stated, “When someone is looting and digging up these artifacts they are taking away a part of our heritage. When these objects are created we are putting a spirit into them, they have a purpose, and they have meaning.”

Another reason that this situation is problematic is due to cultural resources not being renewable. When asked for an example of what this means, Little Rock District Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison Allen Wilson, responded, “There are no more Mississippian sites being created. When people destroy areas such as this, or remove artifacts, it takes away from our body of knowledge about the cultures in these regions. The resources that we have to pull from are already limited. It’s about history preservation.”

 

 

Dedication Shines Through in Awards

Shining a spotlight on Dennis Bradley, the current chief of safety and occupational health for the Little Rock District is not hard. Bradley is a kind, genuine, and humble man whose dedication to duty is hard to match. Bradley received two awards recently for his stalwart efforts in furthering the Corps’ missions. Bradley received the Special Recognition Award for safety from Lt. Gen. Semonite for his role as the interim national program manager for emergency response for safety from August 2017 to present. The Risk Management Award was awarded to him for his exceptional performance and contributions to the Army Safety and Occupational Health Program over the last year.

Dennis Bradley receives the Special Recognition Award for Safety from Col. Bob Dixon, commander of the Little Rock District.

When asked what his favorite part of the job is with a smile he said, “I love helping people. It’s an awesome thing to be able to take someone who didn’t know how to get from point a to point b and give them a road map to get there. I just love helping people.” Safety professionals serve as an essential function of the Corps because they contribute greatly by being present and relevant in all aspects of operations. It means interjecting themselves in operations like engineering and construction, locks and dams, or powerhouses.

When asked for more detail Bradley responded, “In and of ourselves safety doesn’t produce anything other than interpreting regulations and hopefully facilitating a safe work environment. We aren’t turning wrenches or fixing locks or any of those things but by interacting with all our folks out there, understanding their safety concerns or limitations, we are facilitating them doing those things safely so they can get their job done.”

Bradley’s dedication to his duties is astounding. Not only did he manage safety support for Hurricane Maria he also managed support for Harvey, Irma, and the wildfires in California. He managed the deployment of more than 120 USACE safety professionals, nurses, and industrial hygienists.

In addition to this, he was filling in as the Southwestern Division’s interim safety manager as he continued to support the Little Rock District. Knowing that the mission has to get done no matter what, Bradley even deployed himself during the holidays to Puerto Rico when no one else was available.

Dennis Bradley monitors the draining of the Spilling Basin at Millwood Lake.

When asked how he felt about receiving these awards, he responded with, “It’s always nice to be recognized. Everyone wants to be valued and I am no different. I don’t try to bring a lot of attention to the things I do, but it is nice every once in a while to be recognized for your efforts.”

These types of awards are important to Bradley because even though it’s nice to have one’s supervisors notice your work it’s even more uplifting when your peers do. A lot of these awards are peer driven so when an individual receives them it’s because their peers have taken notice of their efforts and want to recognize them for it.

Bradley is no stranger to federal service. He is a combat veteran of the United States Army and retired as a chief warrant officer four in 2008, after 27 years of service in the Arkansas Army National Guard. During his service, Bradley had many jobs. He was a detachment commander for two and one half years. He was also a brigade movement officer. During this time, he planned the movement of 3,000 troops from Arkansas to Iraq and back. He handled all the logistics and arranged for transportation and rail load. He was often called upon to take on duties of this nature because he didn’t mind doing it. He enjoyed it.

Laughing he stated, “Like any horse you have, you let it haul the load until it stops.  But it was fun and it gave me a lot of experiences.” Experiences that have transitioned with him into the Corps.  Given his length of service in the military he has won numerous awards along the way.

When asked about these awards he stated, “I don’t have a love me wall or anything like that I keep my individual awards at home and all the awards that are currently up on my wall are for the district. At the end of the day I’m proud of the things I have done but it’s not ever one person who gets the mission done.”

Alongside his duties to the Corps, family is one of the most important things to Bradley. He has four children and ten grandchildren!  His grandbabies occupy a lot of his free time and he plans to spend his time taking them to see all the wondrous things our nation has to offer.

When asked why this is important to him he stated, “I have been blessed to see most of the United States and a lot of the world actually, and I want them to have those experiences too.” Smiling for a moment, he then laughed and replied, “That’s how I am going to spend my retirement money.”

He is a modest man and wants to ensure that those who deserve credit receive credit where it’s due. Instead of taking sole recognition for his achievements he acknowledges that it was a team effort.

“When I say I deployed 120 plus people I physically did a lot of work but there were five, ten, and twenty people at any given time who were helping with all of these things all the time so it’s never one person who gets it done. It’s a team effort and I appreciate that and like to thank these folks all the time. Even though I am a big part of it, without the folks actually punching the buttons and doing the emergency and resource management piece, none of these deployments happen. Nobody gets down range and the hurricanes don’t get safety applied to them. I appreciate the recognition, but it’s a team effort that gets everything done.”

But as we all know the mission never stops. At the time this article is posted Bradley will have just returned from the Bahrain district where he supported a dive mission. Dennis Bradley is an illustration of exemplary character and a great role model for all.

“We have an outstanding safety program, which is a credit to Dennis, his team, and the culture of safety that our leaders at all levels have adopted. I am particularly proud of the positive attitude Dennis brings to the work. He approaches each project not by asking how our folks can be safe, but by asking ‘how can we help people accomplish the mission safely?’ This attitude makes all the difference. I’m extremely proud of Dennis and our whole safety team.” Said Col. Bob Dixon, commander of the Little Rock District.