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Galveston District earns 3 Silver Anvils

Isidro Reyna, APR, deputy chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, accepted two prestigious Silver Anvil awards and one Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America. The Silver Anvil, which recognizes outstanding achievement in strategic public relations planning and implementation, was presented during the Silver Anvil Awards Ceremony in New York City June 4, 2015.
Isidro Reyna, APR, deputy chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, accepted two prestigious Silver Anvil awards and one Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America. The Silver Anvil, which recognizes outstanding achievement in strategic public relations planning and implementation, was presented during the Silver Anvil Awards Ceremony in New York City June 4, 2015.

By USACE Galveston District Public Affairs Office 

GALVESTON, Texas – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District won two prestigious Silver Anvil awards and one Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America. The Silver Anvil, which recognizes outstanding achievement in strategic public relations planning and implementation, was presented during the Silver Anvil Awards Ceremony last night in New York City.

“We are honored to be recognized for our efforts to educate the public about these structures while we worked diligently to address structural issues and implement measures to reduce the risk to public safety,” said Col. Richard Pannell, commanding officer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District. “Staff sought new and innovative ways to communicate with Houstonians following the classification process that identified necessary structural work to bolster these critical dams so that they could continue to provide flood damage protection for 1.2 million residents and potentially avoid $8 billion in losses in the event of a major flood.”

The USACE Galveston District received a Silver Anvil Award and an Award of Excellence for its communication efforts concerning its Dam Safety Program in the Community Relations and Integrated Communications categories. The public announcement of the USACE Dam Safety Program’s reclassification of the Addicks and Barker dams to “Extremely High Risk,” presented staff with the challenge of communicating the findings to inform 1.2 million residents in the nation’s fourth largest city of risks associated with living downstream of the dams, the $6.8 million short-term interim risk reduction measures in store and the $75-$100 million long-term construction plan to reinforce the nearly 70-year-old structures while maintaining the Corps’ reputation and relevancy as an organization that makes public safety a top priority.

“The PRSA Silver Anvil awards recognize the nation’s best public relations campaigns and are often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of our industry,” said Isidro Reyna, deputy chief of public affairs for the USACE Galveston District. “We are incredibly humbled to be honored by our peers for our aggressive communications efforts in the greater Houston area, which ultimately instilled confidence in both internal and external audiences and supported the U.S. Army’s goals and objectives.”

Sandra Arnold, chief of the USACE Galveston District Public Affairs Office, says the Galveston District’s team put forth a genuine effort to keep residents apprised of the status of the aging infrastructure and that these efforts were reflected in the award selection results.

“Staff understood the importance of keeping the community informed throughout this entire repair and modification process and worked to engage residents in discussions regarding findings, recommended plans and future construction,” said Arnold. “The five-year community relations plan’s success hinged on open, two-way exchange of information about the dams’ hazards and risks as well as implementing feedback as we continued to discuss the Corps’ capabilities and responsibilities related to sustaining this critical infrastructure.”

Arnold stated that staff will remain committed in its efforts to communicate the risks associated with living in proximity to these structures and will work to maintain local relationships as well as promote transparency and understanding of the district’s Dam Safety Program.

“Most importantly, we will continue to keep Houstonians in the forefront when moving forward with construction this fall.”

The district was also recognized with a 2015 PRSA Silver Anvil Award in the Multicultural Public Relations category for its Corps in the Classroom program to discuss the Corps’ mission with students and highlight the district’s contributions to the community, state and nation. Additionally, the PRSA Houston Chapter recognized the district’s communication efforts regarding its Dam Safety Program and named USACE Galveston District as a finalist for the Grand Excalibur Award, the top award bestowed in the chapter for public relations excellence. The award will be presented in mid June.

The Silver Anvil Awards program has grown in scope and stature since its inception in 1946, and awards are now given in 16 categories and over 60 sub-categories. In the 60-plus-year history of the Silver Anvils, many organizations have been recognized, including solo practitioners, agencies of all sizes, large and small businesses, top corporations, nonprofits, associations and government agencies. Entries are judged on their research, planning, execution and evaluation, while also taking factors such as creativity, ethics and budget into consideration.

For more information about the Addicks and Barker reservoirs and dams visit www.addicksandbarker.info or learn more about dam safety at http://www.damsafety.org/. For news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict, or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEGalveston.


Spotlight on USACE Galveston District’s Suhail Idriss

Nearly three decades have passed since Suhail Idriss began working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District as a structural engineer. Co-workers have come and gone and technology continues to rapidly change but in the midst of all of these transformations, one thing remains the same - his devotion to civil service.
Nearly three decades have passed since Suhail Idriss began working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District as a structural engineer. Co-workers have come and gone and technology continues to rapidly change but in the midst of all of these transformations, one thing remains the same – his devotion to civil service.

Story by Sandra Arnold
Galveston District
Public Affairs Office

Nearly three decades have passed since Suhail Idriss began working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District as a structural engineer. Co-workers have come and gone and technology continues to rapidly change but in the midst of all of these transformations, one thing remains the same – his devotion to civil service.

“As a taxpayer I am privileged to be entrusted to perform the duties of the U.S. government office,” said Idriss. “It is a great pleasure to fulfill the duties of the office.”

Idriss is entrusted with managing a diverse group of projects ranging from contributing to feasibility studies to overseeing environmental ecosystem restoration projects as the Boulevard Resaca at Brownsville.

According to Idriss, the Boulevard Resacas at Brownsville project, located along the Rio Grande River in the southern half of Cameron County, Texas, consists of approximately 25 acres of former channels of the Rio Grande River that have been cut off from the river, having no inlet or outlet as a result of siltation of the oxbow channels and loss of critical native aquatic and riparian habitat.

“The riparian vegetation, found exclusively in resaca and riparian corridors of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, have been designated by Texas Parks and Wildlife as habitats critically imperiled with extinction or elimination,” said Idriss. “Over the years, portions of the Resacas have become bottomland with the remaining stretches of channel having formed into a series of unconnected horseshoe bends with impacted habitat.”

Idriss explains that the district and its partner, the City of Brownsville, are working together to find solutions to preserve the Resacas, enhance habitats for birds and wildlife as well as increase storm water and raw water storage capacity that can be used in times of need. Once completed, the project with leave behind multiple benefits, including a water recreation component, for residents and visitors to enjoy in the decades that follow.

“I enjoy the teamwork component to my job,” said Idriss. “The success in accomplishing every task is a direct result of a combined team effort.”
A native of Beirut, Lebanon, he earned his diploma in structural engineering from the University of Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia in 1978, a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983 and became a licensed professional engineer in both structural and civil engineering disciplines.

Idriss earned several awards throughout his career with the USACE and in 1990 he volunteered to deploy to Saudi Arabia in support Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Now in his 35 year of marriage to wife, Vivian, the two enjoy spending their free time catching up with their son, a senior project engineer in San Antonio, Texas, and daughter, a product manager in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Idriss retired at the end of May 2015.


The official U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division publication