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

About jwoods