TULSA – The U.S. Army’s top engineer visited Oklahoma to thank Tulsa District employees for their service and hard work, Dec. 7-8.
Lieutenant Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander praised Tulsa District employees for their efforts to protect life and property during the May and June floods of 2015.
Bostick began his visit with a tour of Keystone Dam and its hydropower facilities and the Keystone Bridge replacement project, which was completed in early 2015. The bridge spanning Keystone Dam connects Highway 151A to the north and south banks of the Arkansas River and is one example of cost sharing between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation contributed $6 million to the project.
Bostick then hosted a session on multipurpose reservoirs with stakeholders from the Kansas Water Office, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Southwestern Power Administration and Southwestern Power Resources Association to discuss hydropower and water supply in the region.
According to Bostick, the Corps of Engineers is engaged in the discussion of water supply at all levels.
“There is a very real and great concern on water supply and what the Corps’ role is in that,” said Bostick. “The Corps is very actively thinking and working in the interagency from a National Level on the water supply issue. It’s a national and international issue of importance, and we are working with the interagency partners to determine what role the Corps has and we’re aggressively pursuing ways that we can help and that’s happening at the local level as well.”
The final day of the visit included a tour of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa and meetings with port operators from the Oklahoma portion of the McClellan Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The Port of Catoosa is the nation’s most inland freshwater port. The MKARNS is a 445 mile water highway that connects Eastern Oklahoma to the Mississippi River.
“This is a great port, not only the Port of Catoosa but all of the other ports along the MKARNS and we understand the great value that they add, not only to the local economy but to the national economy,” said Bostick. “I often say that our inland waterways and our ports are the economic backbones of this country and talking with all of the stakeholders on the MKARNS, they fully appreciate that. They’ve invested their own money to ensure that it remains a relevant and viable part to the local and national economy. Most importantly, I think we’ve got great teamwork and understanding at the local level and that’s really very important for us to move forward successfully.”
The visit culminated with meetings with the Tulsa District’s Leader Development Program and a town hall meeting in which Bostick recognized 11 Tulsa District employees with Chief of Engineers Coins of Excellence, presented DeFleury Medals to Keith Francis from Assistant District Counsel at the Tulsa District and Terry Rupe, the chief of Real Estate.
Bostick wrapped up the town hall meeting by answering questions from Tulsa District employees and praised the district’s flood risk management efforts, specifically with regard to communicating with the public.
“The work of the Tulsa District in response to the floods of May 2015, could not have been done better. They are the example of how this should be done. I know Brigadier Gen. [David] Hill [Southwestern Division Commander] and Col. [Richard] Pratt [Tulsa District Commander] have been able to engage with the senior leadership of the Corps of Engineers,” said Bostick. “They talked about some of the things they were doing. Some were new lessons for me to see how the social media really spiked and demonstrated the ability of the district, not only to accomplish the work that needed to be done, but then to communicate in a rapid fashion to the American public so that the people of Tulsa understood areas of threat, areas of safety and the ongoing efforts by the Corps of Engineers."