LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District command team recognized district employees and highlighted their countless accomplishments throughout the fiscal year during an Oct. 5 virtual town hall and end-of-year celebration broadcasted from the district’s headquarters building.
Col. Julie Balten, LA District commander, joined David Van Dorpe, LA District’s deputy district engineer, in leading the interactive event, which included recognition of not only organizations and teams, but also individuals, who went above and beyond.
“I feel so lucky to be your commander and to be here with all of you to celebrate all of our achievements,” Balten said. “This is a huge team. We couldn’t do anything and all of this we’ve presented here – and so much more – without each and every one of you.”
The mission to increase hospital capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic started before the calendar year and continued steadily thereafter. Balten highlighted the hard work and willingness of LA District employees in carrying out this mission.
“I think this is something that our district and our region should be so proud of,” Balten said. “In such a short amount of time, we supported three hospitals and started with assessing 12. The number of people who raised their hands on New Year’s Eve to be able to get up in the morning and start assessing on New Year’s Day was incredible to me. It just shows that we’re willing to run to the sound of the guns, so to speak.”
Work on three projects – the Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project, Prado Basin Ecosystem Restoration and Water Conservation Project, and the Port of Long Beach Navigation and Feasibility Study – have resulted in three chief’s reports in fiscal 2021, which Balten said is “quite the accomplishment,” especially at a district level.
LA District personnel also helped host groundbreaking ceremonies for major Veterans Affairs and military projects this year. These included the San Diego VA Medical Center Campus Spinal Cord Injury and Community Living Center in June and Edwards Air Force Base Joint Simulation Environment Facility.
Ribbon-cuttings for two new fire stations also were on the list of accomplishments – one at Edwards Air Force Base in December and another at March Air Reserve Base and in May.
Three maintenance dredging projects also wrapped up this year: Channel Islands Harbor, Oceanside and another in the Newport Bay Harbor, which also included jetty repair and restoration. The LA District also completed the Port Hueneme Harbor deepening project in June.
Other big accomplishments include the completion of the $100-million bridge-pier protection project near Prado Dam in May, the signing of the Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement for the Lake Elsinore Continuing Authorities Program 206 Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration in June and progress at the Brown Field Border Patrol Station Construction near San Diego.
Van Dorpe said the district has done “an incredible amount of work” this year that would be impossible to cover in full during the presentation. This includes more than $1 billion in work, nearly $125 million in labor and nearly $10 million of work from other districts.
“We asked every division to bring in their own slides of accomplishments,” Van Dorpe said. “There was so much information that we really couldn’t boil it down in the limited amount of time we had. We decided to bring up certain slides here, but we’re going to have a much-expanded slide deck with a link via email, so everyone can see all the accomplishments that every division reported out on.”
Last, but not least, Balten and Van Dorpe recognized individuals by name as end-of-year heroes, whose professionalism, dedication to duty and willingness to go above and beyond ensured the district was able to deliver the program and mission successfully.
“This list of end-of-year heroes is a sample of all the heroes within the district,” Van Dorpe said. “I love the work that I get to do here. I really feel like I’m working with a great group of people, working on a fantastic mission, and I’m continually challenged by what we do. Thank you, and I also look forward to all the great things we’re going to accomplish in the time to come.”
Balten added that it’s vital to take time out to rest and recharge and it’s also important to stay connected with friends, family and teammates as much as safely possible, especially during times of increased isolation during telework.
Balten closed out the celebration with some words of encouragement.
“Congratulations to everybody,” Balten said. “This year is going to be just as fabulous – if not better – than this past year. I know we can do it because we do it together.”