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LA District employees receive recognition for service during Fourth Quarter Award ceremony

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District
Published Jan. 18, 2020
Nina Presley, administrative officer with the Planning Division, received the Kevin Inada Employee of the Quarter Award during the Fourth Quarter Awards Ceremony Jan. 10 at the LA District’s Headquarters building in downtown LA. Presley received the award for her work processing projected recruitment actions for the Planning Division for fiscal year 2020, as well as assisting managers with completing regulatory requirements. Additionally, she ensured last-minute training requirements were met and that her division had equipment and supplies for its FY19 budget.

Nina Presley, administrative officer with the Planning Division, received the Kevin Inada Employee of the Quarter Award during the Fourth Quarter Awards Ceremony Jan. 10 at the LA District’s Headquarters building in downtown LA. Presley received the award for her work processing projected recruitment actions for the Planning Division for fiscal year 2020, as well as assisting managers with completing regulatory requirements. Additionally, she ensured last-minute training requirements were met and that her division had equipment and supplies for its FY19 budget.

Andrew Rios, administrative support assistant for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, left, receives the Helping Hands for Others Award from Col. Aaron Barta, LA District commander, right, during the Fourth Quarter Awards Ceremony Jan. 10 at the LA District’s Headquarters building in downtown LA. Rios received the award while working as an administrative support assistant with the Programs and Project Management Division, for coaching he provided to the division staff to ensure training was completed.

Andrew Rios, administrative support assistant for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, left, receives the Helping Hands for Others Award from Col. Aaron Barta, LA District commander, right, during the Fourth Quarter Awards Ceremony Jan. 10 at the LA District’s Headquarters building in downtown LA. Rios received the award while working as an administrative support assistant with the Programs and Project Management Division, for coaching he provided to the division staff to ensure training was completed.

LOS ANGELES – Twelve U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District employees received recognition for outstanding service, including a team of engineers that helped develop modeling to predict post-fire debris flows in the hopes of saving lives.

The employees were recognized by Col. Aaron Barta, commander of the LA District, during the Jan. 10 Fourth Quarter Award ceremony at the LA District headquarters building.

“Great work is done every day by our employees, but sometimes people find opportunities to stand out and go above and beyond to the benefit of us all,” Barta said. “I want to take every opportunity to showcase these successes and encourage more enthusiasm.”

One group of employees recognized by Barta for going above and beyond was a team of engineers – Moosub Eom, Morteza Majd, Nikolas Ortman, Jose Paredez and Muhammed Mustafa, all with the Engineering Division, and Jonathan Vivanti with the Planning Division – for their work on a study to predict debris flows after fire. The group received the Outstanding Project Delivery Team Award.

As members of the Santa Barbara County Post-Fire Flood Plain Management Services team, their efforts included modeling the amount of debris and inundation areas associated with mud and debris flows, including developing new computer programs to accurately model the debris flows that occurred during the January 2018 Santa Barbara storm event, which killed 23 people in Montecito, California.

The purpose of the study is to help predict the path of potential debris flows in the future, with the goal of saving lives.

"The biggest benefit of this study is really two-fold,” Vivanti explained. “The LA District is providing technical assistance to Santa Barbara County to help improve its drainage system in the Montecito area to better deal with future potential large-scale debris flows that have devastating effects, similar to what occurred in the aftermath of the December 2017 Thomas Fire.”

Additionally, he said, the team is using the latest debris flow simulation modeling tools for this effort, developed by the Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Center and Hydraulic Engineer Center, and gaining valuable experience, especially for up-and-coming younger generation engineers. 

“This experience can be applied to assist other communities to address post-fire debris flow management – a need that has become very prevalent in our semi-arid environment,” Vivanti said.

Barta presented the Kevin Inada Employee of the Quarter Award to Nina Presley, administrative officer with the Planning Division.

The award is named for Kevin Inada, the LA District’s former deputy chief of the Construction Division, who died in 2012. The award is given to employees who demonstrate traits exemplified by Inada during his time with the District. Inada was known for his “taking care of people” philosophy.

Presley received the award for her work processing projected recruitment actions for the Planning Division for fiscal year 2020, as well as assisting managers with completing regulatory requirements.

“Nina ensures 'routine happens routinely,' thus giving us all extra resources to focus on other pressing issues," said Ed Demesa, chief of the Planning Division. "Her support and responsiveness to the entire Planning Division allows us to immediately address human resource needs. She makes us all very effective.”

Additionally, Presley ensured last-minute training requirements were met and that her division had equipment and supplies for its FY19 budget. 

“It's an honor to receive the award,” Presley said. “I want to express my sincere appreciation and thanks for the recognition. I will keep my enthusiasm up in my future work as well.”

Robert Moreno, Operations Division, and Andrew Rios, Security and Law Enforcement Office, both received the Helping Hands for Others Award.

Moreno was recognized for his performance as a park ranger with the Technical Support Branch, Operations Division, for coordinating with local, state and federal authorities to ensure park rangers could enforce rules and regulations on Corps-owned land, as well as issue citations when necessary. 

Rios received the award while working as an administrative support assistant with the Programs and Project Management Division, for coaching he provided to the division staff to ensure training was completed.

Additionally, Barta also recognized several others employees during the ceremony, including:

  •  Shaun Frost, supervisory civil engineer, Southland Area Office, Construction Division, who received the Commander’s Eagle Award for his performance administering a project contract, which required working in close coordination with the Contracting Division and Office of Counsel;
  • Sonya Catiggay, civilian pay technician, Resource Management Office, received the Compass Award for her efforts assisting LA District employees with the payroll system, as well as her willingness to give on-the-spot training sessions to her peers; and,
  • Honorio “Jake” Narciso, civil engineer, Construction Division, received the Outstanding Project Delivery Team Member Award for his work assigned to the Defense Logistics Agency Hydrant Fuels project. His knowledge of the contracts, as well as his thoroughness in reviewing submittals and reports, and working closely with the contractor and customer, were instrumental in completing the project.

During the ceremony, Barta also reminded those in attendance to always take the time to pause and pat themselves and others on the back for the great work they do every day.

“If you see someone rise up to a challenge, let myself and others know,” he said. “We need to celebrate daily victories.”