Little Rock District inducts newest Distinguished Civilian Employee

Deputy District Engineer Dr. Randy Hathaway and Col. Robert Dixon, commander, Little Rock District USACE present inductee Dale Leggett a plaque for being nominated into the 2017 Distinguished Civilian Employee for Little Rock District USACE.

He probably never thought living his life by the golden rule would gain recognition or going to work would change a district.

Then again he was only doing his best, which is why he was recognized Nov. 29 as the 2017 Distinguished Civilian Employee for Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“I went to work doing the best I could do and would always look back on the biblical saying of do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Morris Dale Leggett retired chief of natural resources management section said.

As a result Leggett’s actions were being noticed.

“I don’t think we’ve had anyone like him ever or since,” Deputy District Engineer Dr. Randy Hathaway said. “Dale was the best person in reaching out to other Corps employees. If you were sick or struggling he was always the first one lending a helping hand.”

Avid outdoorsman Dale Leggett was recognized Nov. 29 as the 2017 Distinguished Civilian Employee for Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


Leggett made the perfect gallery candidate.

“We generally pick out one person who stands out and models those type of qualities and behaviors and he fits the Corps values of putting people first,” explained Hathaway.

Reiterating Hathaway Corps retiree Jack Johnson said Leggett was patient, understanding and caring when they worked together.

During his retirement ceremony in 2013, Morris Dale Leggett retired chief of natural resources management section is congratulated by Dr. Randy Hathaway deputy district engineer.

“You will need a lot of patience if you worked with me,” Johnson joked. “There were times I probably didn’t deserve it but he was nurturing and had more patience than anyone I know.”

Coincidently Leggett shared a similar experience when he first started out.

“Early in my career I never understood things well,” Leggett shared. “My former supervisors were all patient and understanding with me, making me realize that’s what most of us need.”

Hydraulics and technical services branch chief Michael Biggs started with the Corps in the 80’s and Leggett also shaped his career with his patience and understanding. In fact Biggs credits Leggett for some of his career skills.

“You really helped me communicate with others and taught me things that helped when I became a project manager,” Biggs concluded. “I learned to communicate effectively and understand the things you taught. You made me a better engineer.”

Equally amazing to the people he inspired were his contributions to the district.

“His name became synonymous as an advocate for natural resources and recreation programs within the district and around the Corps,” Titus Hardiman chief of natural resources management section said.

Leggett’s positive outlook was the key to his success.

“I always tried to seek more opportunities and never looked at it as a task,” Leggett said. “I walked in the office and each day it was a chance to excel.”

Being an avid outdoorsman gave him a firsthand glimpse the need to balance the demand for recreational opportunities and the districts requirement to ensure recreation and natural resources were protected.

Dale Leggett was recognized Nov. 29 as the 2017 Distinguished Civilian Employee for Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“He was instrumental in employing a park efficiency ranking system known as the Park Operating Efficiency Review, which assisted recreation managers in making the best decision for changes in park operations,” outdoor recreation planner Christine Smith said.

Basically this meant if funding was available the parks would be getting improvements made.

Smith said POER was instrumental in communicating recreational needs to congressional delegates resulting in additional funding of more than $13 million for improvements at the projects.

Spearheaded under Leggett’s leadership the POER resulted in the district’s total annual visitation and recreational fee collections ranking in the top five of Corps districts nationally.

“Leggett was the forerunner in assuring district recreational opportunities with periodic park evaluations and modernizations,” Smith said. “He was a leader in assuring the future quality of recreational opportunities in Little Rock District with periodic park evaluations and modernization.”

Outdoor Recreation Planner Christine Smith contributed to the nomination of Dale Leggett chief natural resources management section to be inducted into the Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees.

There is no doubt Leggett’s commitment and expertise left a lasting impression on the district and that lasting impression is recognized with his induction into the Little Rock District’s Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees.

“Throughout his 32 years of federal service he demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and loyalty and was recognized as a cornerstone to those within the park ranger and natural resources specialist profession,” Hardiman concluded.

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