Los Angeles - At a town hall meeting Oct. 11, South Pacific Division Commander Col. Pete Helmlinger, outlined his priorities for the division; take care of our people, support our partners, and deliver our programs.
This approach to division priorities underscores the importance delivering quality programs on-time, done to standard and on budget, while maintaining a balanced and transparent relationship with our partners and taking care of the people who work for and are served by our organization.
During his week-long visit to Los Angeles District, Helmlinger was briefed on and toured District projects. On Oct. 12, Helmlinger visited various sites of planned restoration along the Los Angeles River as part of the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Project. Capt. Eugene Park, project manager, presented the project's features at Taylor Yard, the Arroyo Seco confluence and the Los Angeles Transportation Center, also known as Piggyback Yard.
Helmlinger also visited Whittier Narrows Dam, where he met Rep. Grace Napolitano, in whose district the dam is located.
At the dam’s Rio Hondo outlet, David Van Dorpe, the Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project, began the visit with an orientation of the dam, its purpose and operation. He discussed Whittier Narrows’ benefits for the population and the infrastructure downstream and how the Corps communicates with agencies charged with their protection.
Additional discussions about the dam focused on aging infrastructure and budget concerns, preparations for future flooding and the potential impacts of climate change, and the need to coordinate studies on the dam’s structural integrity and potential for water conservation.
The following day, Helmlinger and Col. Kirk Gibbs, commander of the Los Angeles District, accompanied Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack, and Col. Scott Taylor, Fort Irwin garrison commander on various constructions on Ft. Irwin. Visits included a tour of the New Weed Army Community Hospital and Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System facility construction projects. The group also reviewed the new water treatment facility, known as Irwin Water Works. The Los Angeles District awarded the $100.1 million water treatment construction contract on Sept. 12, 2012 and began work July 15, 2013. The group remained for the project’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I’m very impressed with the Los Angeles District,” said Hemlinger. “We’ve got some of the most innovate projects out there. We are building what will be the greenest hospital in the Department of Defense and we have just built the world’s first net zero water treatment plant for recapturing water in the treatment process. The breadth and magnitude of the work the District is doing here is very important to the nation and important to the U.S. Corps of Engineers…I’m very proud of the team.”
Rounding out the Commander’s visit to the LA District was a boat tour of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Oct. 14. POLA’s Director of Legislative and Government Affairs Division Marisela DiRuggiero and LA District Project Manager Jim Fields provided updates on Corps projects as well as future port improvement plans. Harbor tour highlights included a visit to the San Pedro Breakwater repairs, U.S. Coast Guard Station and new terminal constructions at Piers 300 and 400.