Tag Archives: USACE Little Rock

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.”

Eric Gillespie, Lockmaster and USACE Diver

Position: Lockmaster/USACE Diver

Years with SWL: 18

Hometown: Heber Springs, AR

Education: High School/Military

Certifications: USACE Working Diver, Diving Supervisor, CPR, AED, Dan 02 Emergency Oxygen Provider, Rigger, Signalman, Lock Operator Certified

Hobbies: Hunting, Fishing, Mud Riding with my boys


Q:  You have been with the district 18 years, how has your job changed over the years?

A:  The biggest change has been going from a Wage Grade employee to a Supervisor. Not only am I accountable for myself and my actions, but I’m accountable for my Locks and the men that work for me.

Q:  What positions have you held in the district?

A: Maintenance Mechanic at Ozark Power House

River Harbor Maintenance Worker at Dardanelle Maintenance Terminal

Rigger at Dardanelle Maintenance Terminal

Rigger on the M/V Shorty Baird

Lock and Dam Operator at Murray Lock and Dam

Quality Assurance & Quality Control Inspector in Iraq

Lock Leader/Mechanic at Murray Lock and Dam

Lockmaster over Murray and Toad Suck Ferry Locks

USACE Diver/Dive Supervisor
Q: What was your favorite job position and why?

A: Lock and Dam Operator

I would say it has been my favorite position because it was just me running the lock and dam. If something happened then it was on me to take care of it. I enjoyed the quiet time when on shift by myself, you come in do your job and go home. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

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

A:  Professional –

My short term goal is to make the locks I’m over a better place to work and get the team and family atmosphere back in the locks.

My long term goal is to get back into hydro power and be the third generation Gillespie to retire from Greers Ferry Power House

A:  Personal –

Short and Long term goal is to be the best husband and father to my wife and kids, and to give them everything I can while the good Lord gives me the opportunity too.

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

A:  I try to lead by example, there is nothing I would ask my guys to do that I haven’t done or won’t do. I will be right beside them no matter what the job is, teaching them what I know and learning new things and ways to do things together as a team.

Q:  What do you enjoy most about your job?

A:  Working hard to make things better for my guys at the locks and the divers on the dive team

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

A:  Underwater inspections of the Center Post Receivers to determine if they are good or bad so we can set lock closure to preform much needed maintenance. The biggest challenge is the fact that you have zero visibility in the river so you just can’t look at it and say yes it’s good.

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

A:   I would have to say my favorite project would be the 2015 dewater at Montgomery Point Lock, we finished the dewater two and a half weeks earlier than scheduled. I felt like I accomplished something every day when I left work.

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

A:  Leave work at the gate when you leave at the end of the day to go home, it will be there when you get back. Enjoy home when you are at home.

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

A:   Anyone that knows me knows I’m pretty straight forward, what you see is what you get. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know, cause I’ll shoot you straight