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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp (far right), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville district commander, speaks at the last Nashville District Lock Operator Graduation at J. Percy Priest Lake Jan. 31, 2012.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp (far right), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville district commander, speaks at the last Nashville District Lock Operator Graduation at J. Percy Priest Lake Jan. 31, 2012. (Photo by David Wheeler)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp (right), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, poses for the class photo during his visit to confer diplomas on graduates of the district's last lock operator class at J. Percy Priest Lake here, Jan. 31, 2012.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp (right), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, poses for the class photo during his visit to confer diplomas on graduates of the district's last lock operator class at J. Percy Priest Lake here, Jan. 31, 2012. (Photo by David Wheeler)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jim Davis (left), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Tennessee River Operations manager, who was in the first lock operator graduation class in 1968, talks with Lt. Col. James DeLapp, Nashville District commander, at the last lock operator graduation at J. Percy Priest Lake, Jan. 31, 2012.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jim Davis (left), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Tennessee River Operations manager, who was in the first lock operator graduation class in 1968, talks with Lt. Col. James DeLapp, Nashville District commander, at the last lock operator graduation at J. Percy Priest Lake, Jan. 31, 2012. (Photo by David Wheeler)

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Posted 2/3/2012

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By David Wheeler
Nashville District


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District recognized the end of an era as he presented nine students from its lock operator class with graduation certificates at J. Percy Priest Lake, Jan. 31, 2012.

This is the last graduation and training class for lock operators in the district, announced Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander. Future classes and lock operators will receive their training under the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Inland Marine Transportation System.

"I would like to congratulate all of the graduates on this great accomplishment and thank Northwest-Shoals Community College for partnering with the Corps for the classroom instruction and training," DeLapp said.

The commander said it is a time to celebrate this class, but with this graduation, it is also time to reflect on 44 years of setting the bar high when it comes to training lock operators.

The Nashville District's Lock Operator Training Program has a history of excellence and was established in 1968 to provide qualified journeyman-level employees an opportunity to compete for vacancies in the lock operating workforce. The program began with a two-year curriculum combining correspondence courses and on-the-job training. Later it was determined a one-year program would better fit the needs and requirements of the district. Formal classroom instruction was incorporated into the program with that decision.

In addition to the formal classroom training, instruction is given at the training site on the use of navigation charts, locks' folios, COE/OSHA safety require­ments, control of hazardous energy, Language of the Western Rivers, the Locks Performance Monitoring System, public rela­tions, locking procedures, the Regula­tions for the Ohio River, Missis­sippi River above Cairo, Ill. and their Tributaries, lock operational problem solving and the Operating Manual for Navigation Locks.

DeLapp told the group that the Corps is truly honored to have a graduate from the very first lock operator's course back in 1968, Jim Davis, who is the Tennessee River Operations manager, and the most recent graduates of the program in one room. 

The colonel said lock masters through the years like Davis have maintained equipment, managed navigation, and looked out for public and commercial interests at their posts.

"It is important to remember that you are the face of the Corps," said DeLapp. "Vessel operators locking through rely on your steady confidence to safely navigate the Cumberland and Tennessee Waterways." 

He stressed that with change comes greater challenges, but no doubt the Nashville District will still be the leader.

After the ceremony some of the graduates reflected on the significance of the training they received.

"It was an informative program," said Ralph Rhodes, course graduate. "We learned what it takes to be a successful lock operator, from the computer programs to the actual locking the vessels through." 

"I would actually have to say that having the class comprised of a number of students that had already worked together in the past made the whole experience better," said Harold Deskins, course graduate. "A lot of knowledge was brought to the course as a number of the students already worked for the Corps."

Other graduates include Dallas Barfield, Randy Boyd, Thomas Cherry, Mike Christianson, Harold Deskins, Justin Gray, Scott Padgett, Dale Raines and Ralph Rhodes.