U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District park rangers from Center Hill Lake received the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division 2017 Water Safety Award during a ceremony Dec. 6, 2016.
Col. Paul Kremer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division acting commander, presented the award on behalf of Operations Division Chief, William R. Chapman III, which recognized (left to right) Jody Craig, Center Hill power plant superintendent; Park Ranger Sarah Peace; Col. Paul Kremer; Teresa Upchurch, office administrator, Center Hill Lake Resource manager’s office; Center Hill Lake park rangers John Malone and Tyler Ferrell, Kevin Salvilla, Center Hill Lake natural resource manager; Park Rangers Terry Martin and Gary Bruce; Tony Crow, Center Hill Lake facility manager and not pictured: Volunteers Patti and Ed Abel for their work to spread the water safety message to people of diverse age groups and backgrounds.
“This is a great award that represents the team physically getting out there and educating the public on wearing their life jacket and helping folks understand the dangers of drinking and boating - it makes a big difference and we are proud of you,” said Kremer.
Salvilla said he is extremely proud of the achievements the staff has reached over the year and the importance of their efforts to help save lives. He noted that his staff works closely with the Center Hill power plant operators to coordinate water flow when boaters are in the water downstream.
Park rangers helped save the lives of 15 stranded kayakers and boaters in 2017. During the summer boaters and kayakers either overturned or circumstances led to an accident. He said every year the park rangers strive to reach and impact over 13,000 people a year with water safety education to prevent such water incidents.
“Water safety is paramount and a primary mission of the overall visitor assistance program to provide the public the safest recreational environment that we can provide to help eliminate water accidents.” said Salvilla. “It is common practice of our staff to educate through programs, schools visits and especially during the spring and summer months when the public is out on the lake recreating.”
Salvilla said to better promote public safety awareness, park rangers maintain a daily presence on the lakes, campgrounds and recreation areas throughout the year and interact with the public in these areas during the recreation season.
"It feels great that our staff is recognized and it proves to that our work we do to educate the public hasn’t gone unnoticed and gives us momentum to continue to help visitors learn about water education and make it a year round goal,” said Park Ranger Sarah Peace, natural resource specialist.
Peace said last year park rangers provided water safety education programs at local schools, fishing tournaments, the local County fairs and summer programs along with boat patrols and driving thru the recreation areas and campgrounds.
Nashville District park rangers have the ability to enforce federal boating regulations. They routinely engage the public recreating on Corps lakes to promote good water safety practices when boating and recreating.
Center Hill Lake, which is a reservoir project and is located in the Cumberland River Basin, on the Caney Fork River, and covers parts of DeKalb, Putman, White, and Warren Counties in Tennessee. It controls the runoff from a drainage area of 2,174 square miles. It is an 18,220 acre lake that features 255 miles of shoreline. The lake was created by the construction of a dam across the Caney Fork River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction in 1942 and completed construction in 1948.
The lake provides varied outdoor recreation opportunities for millions of visitors each year. Because of the temperate climate and relatively long recreation season, visitors have numerous activities to choose from including fishing, hunting, camping, picnicking, boating, canoeing, hiking, wildlife watching, scuba diving, swimming, sailing wakeboarding, jet skiing, water skiing and many others.