Category Archives: Little Rock Employee Spotlight

Little Rock Employee Spotlight

Chris Turner is “Making a Difference”

Chris Turner makes a difference every day for those U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees on the lower portion of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), and at the Little Rock District’s annual awards ceremony he was formally recognized for his efforts. Turner received the District’s Making a Difference Award June 21, in front of hundreds of his fellow Corps employees.

Chris Turner (right) accepts the 2018 “Making a Difference” award from Chris Roark, the Little Rock District executive officer. Turner is the MKARNS Lock and Dam Equipment Mechanic Supervisor for locks 1-3.

According to his citation, “Turner has consistently established a high benchmark for safety, integrity, knowledge and dedication to the navigation mission. His “can-do” attitude coupled with his willingness to help others and excellent work ethic has made him an immeasurable members of the MKARNS team.”

The “Making a Difference” award is given to those who consistently go above and beyond all expectations and have garnered unwavering respect from peers and co-workers. The award was created in 2008 by former DPM Randy Hathaway and the awardees include employees and some of our partners and stakeholders. The very first recipient was MGEN Ed Jackson when he commanded Little Rock District in the 2008 time-frame. To date, only 29 “Making a Difference” awards have be presented to deserving recipients.

Spotlight on Chris S. Turner

Position:  MKARNS Lock & Dam Equipment Mechanic Supervisor

Years with SWL:  12 years

Hometown:  Tichnor, Arkansas

Hobbies:  Spending time with my wife and family. I also enjoy going to the deer camp, hunting with my boys, and working in the yard.

Q:  You have been with the district 12 years, how has your job changed over the years?

A:   I spend more and more time on the computer and less time out in the field.

Q:  What positions have you held in the district?

A:  Started out as a lock operator in 2006 then went on to become a lock mechanic in June 2010. From there I was promoted to my current position as lockmaster in August of 2011. I supervise operations at Locks 1-3 on the lower portion of the MKARNS.

Q:  What is your favorite thing about your current position and why?

A:  The diversity of the job.  I am not always doing the same thing day in and day out. Although it is leaning towards more office time.

 Q:  What are your short and long term professional and personal goals?

A:  Professional – To be the best supervisor I can be and to mentor to new employees and try to get them started in their career in the right state of mind to have a long and rewarding career. I want them to be happy and to take pride in what they do.

A:  Personal – To be able to provide for my family and in hopes of someday retiring and watching my children grow up with families of their own.

Q:  What do you do to instill your veteran knowledge in new employees?

A:  I try to lead by example. I do not want anyone to think that I am above getting out there and working. I try to let them know that they will have a name on the river and it may be good or bad, but that is entirely up to them. I try to encourage everyone to help one another.

Q:  What do you enjoy most about your job?

A:  I like the location and that all of my three locks are different from one another and from all the other locks on the river. The three rivers all coming together and the challenges that go with it.

Q:  What are some of the biggest challenges related to your position?

A:  Getting everything I need taken care of in a timely manner. One of my pet peeves is having an email not to get answered, but sometimes I may not get to it in the time I would like due to higher priorities at the time.

Q:  What motivates you to make a difference at work and for the Corps?

A:  I like to solve problems. When someone has an issue I enjoy trying to come up with a solution that will benefit everyone. I love to let my co-workers know that someone does care what they think and that it is not just a government job.  I want them to know the reasons behind the decisions being made.

Q:  What ways have you found to balance your home life with the busy schedule you have at work?

A:  I do what I have to do for both work and home. I knew when I accepted the position what it consisted of, but it doesn’t really interfere with the family time very often. I have a very understanding and supportive wife.

Q:  Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?

A:  I am the local fire chief going on 15 years and I am also a deputy sheriff and have been for 11 years.


National Engineers Week Spotlight – Chris Karamales

Bio Stats: Christopher Karamales

Position: Mechanical Engineer, Design Branch

Years with SWL: 1 year, 4 months

Hometown: Pineville, La.

Education: B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana Tech University

Certifications: P.E. Arkansas

Hobbies: Photography, travel, fixing things that I was too cheap to buy working/new

Q:  You have been with the district for more than a year, how has your job evolved?  Was it what you thought it would be?

A:  At first I thought I would be working strictly on doing design for civil works projects.  Soon after starting I picked up heating, ventilation and air conditioning projects as well which just added to the variety.  I didn’t realize how much of the job was related to project management or getting a project built.  It’s been a learning process figuring out all the aspects of the job that aren’t strictly design.  The job is not entirely what I expected it would be but I’ve really enjoyed the variety that comes with those unexpected projects.

Q:  What positions have you held in the district?

A:  This is my first position with the Corps.

Q:  What are your short and long term professional and personal goals?

A:  Professional – I’m in full on learning mode.  There are so many things to learn here.  From best practices when designing mechanical systems to getting a project from start to construction and beyond.  My goal is to become an expert on the mechanical aspects of our hydropower projects.

A:  Personal – A short term goal of mine is to spend more time reading and less time falling down the YouTube rabbit hole.  Longer term I’m just trying to be better than I was yesterday.

Q:  What do you enjoy most about your job?

A:  There is no shortage of variety at this job.  We have a wide range of projects including high head dams, low head dams, hydropower, river navigation, HVAC, military, and more.  I like that I get to work on so many different facilities.

Q:  What projects are you working on now and what are some of the challenges?

A:  I am currently working on replacing the sump system at Bull Shoals.  It is early in the project but there are some challenges that will be fun to work through with the guys there.  One challenge on these projects is that the site is so far away.  If you want to know where a small component is or how much room you have you can’t just walk down and look.  But all it takes is a phone call and the guys at the sites have you an answer.  They really know their project and are a great resource.

Q:  What has been your favorite project you have worked on?

A:  My favorite project I’ve worked on was the raw water piping replacement at Table Rock Lake.  Very soon after I started working here I was put on this project and started learning the ropes.  I really enjoyed working with the guys at the site whether it was during site visits or working through an issue.  It was a good start and set me up well for future projects.

Q:  What ways have you found to balance your home life with the busy schedule you have at work?

A:  I feel like the Corps is a good place to work if life outside of work is important to you.  The schedule is fair and allows me to spend time with friends and family fairly easily.  There is the stress that comes with having several projects going on concurrently but that’s nothing a little fishing can’t fix.

Q:  Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?

A:  I once went on a weekend trip to Israel because I didn’t have enough vacation time to take more than a couple of days off and the round trip tickets were only about $340.  We left on Thursday, spent 8 hours in London seeing the sights, got interrogated by IDF before they let us into Israel, had a great time in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, didn’t sleep, and I was back at work Monday morning.