Category Archives: MKARNS

McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System

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.

Little Rock District Civilian of the Year

The 2017 Little Rock District Civilian of the Year award was bestowed on Joel Epperson, deputy operations project manager for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) project office, during the district’s annual Corps Day award ceremony June 21.

“I was completely shocked when my supervisor told me that I was selected for this award,” said Epperson. “It is a humbling experience to be nominated much less win such a high honor.”

Joel Epperson (center) receives his award from COL Robert Dixon, Little Rock District Commander and Craig Pierce, District Deputy for Programs and Project Management.

Epperson started his Corps career more than 31 years ago working at Lake Dardanelle on the MKARNS. He has always believed that hard work would pay-off and did not go looking for promotions. Those promotions found him over the years.

“I never thought about my next job or promotion, but somehow things just lined-up perfect and I was selected for new opportunities at just the right time for me, my family and the Corps. My most recent move had me leaving a staff of 17 to leading a team of more than 200 people up and down the MKARNS,” said Epperson.

And according to Epperson, a native of Conway, that move came with its share of challenges and rewards.

“My current position has a lot of moving parts and a huge annual budget. My team works all shifts, 24/7, 365 days a year. Making sure we have the right people in the right places at the right time, with all the challenges of employee turnover, deployments and temporary duty assignments keeps me on my toes.

“But I find the most rewarding part of the job is the people. Hiring quality people to fill key positions and helping them learn their new job is very rewarding,” according to Epperson.

Joel Epperson, Little Rock District’s 2018 Civilian of the Year, discusses operations at Toad Suck Lock on the MKARNS. Epperson, a native of Conway, Arkansas has worked in the district for 31 years.

Those people working across Arkansas on the navigation system in turn help drive Epperson.

“I am inspired by our people,” said Epperson. “What they do each and every day pushes me to do better. I work hard every day to take care of our people and keep my main focus on the site offices across the [MKARNS] system so they can remain focused on their mission.”

According to the award submission, Epperson “displays professionalism and integrity in all actions, both on and off duty. In addition, Epperson has performed his supervisory duties in an exemplary manner while taking the time to mentor the next generation of leaders within the organization.”

The one main theme that recurs while talking with Epperson is family and friends. Their support has helped him reach his current position and be recognized with this award.

Joel Epperson, deputy operations project manager for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) project office, is the Little Rock Distirct’s 2018 Civilian of the Year

“I could not have accomplished half the things I have during my career without the love and support of my family,” said Epperson. “They have always stood with me and that goes for all my brothers and sisters in the [Little Rock] district. I feel like all the people I work with day in and day out are my extended family. That is a great feeling to have at work.”