It’s not every day that a three star general stops by and asks “how are things going with you today?” But in early October that’s just what happened when Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, 54th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, made a visit to the Rock Island District.
Semonite’s primary reason for visiting the District was to take part in a milestone groundbreaking ceremony for the Cedar Rapids Flood Risk Management Project however during his time in the area he took additional time to learn about District-specific priorities, interact with employees, and see what maintenance projects look like on the Mississippi River.
His first day in the District was filled with community involvement as he and other senior leaders helped break ground on the $117 million flood risk management project in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He later met with community leaders in Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities to get a feel for how Rock Island District’s support to these areas has helped in these communities.
On day two, a Town Hall was held and District employees got the chance to hear, directly from the Chief, what his vision for the future looks like and how each member of the Corps team plays an important role in strengthening the foundation, delivering the program and achieving the vision.
During his time at the District headquarters office Semonite also took time to tour the historic Clock Tower building and visit one-on-one with employees.
“It was so nice of the General to stop by and talk with us,” said mailroom clerk Lee Matherly. “He was very personable and his questions were genuine.”
Jennifer Wilson, who also works as a mailroom clerk, was impressed by Semonite’s interactive nature and felt his conversation with her made her feel very welcome.
“I’m new to the District so I wasn’t sure what to expect when he stopped by,” said Wilson. “I was really surprised that he took time out of his busy schedule to interact with us and find out how things were going."
Following the Chief’s visit to the headquarters building, District Commander, Col. Steve Sattinger, and Operations Division Chief, Tom Heinold, took Semonite to Bellevue, Iowa, where he got an up-close look at critical maintenance work being performed at the lock and learned about the District’s navigation mission.
"Having the Chief tour Lock and Dam 12 was a great opportunity to highlight our navigation mission and discuss the critical state of our inland waterway infrastructure,” said Heinold. “It also offered the Mississippi River Project a chance to showcase internal maintenance capabilities and demonstrate the importance of having equipment like the Quad Cities heavy-lift crane."
After a tour of the lock and dam, and a quick meet and greet with employees, Semonite got the chance to watch the Mississippi River Maintenance Crew perform a miter gate replacement using the District’s heavy-lift crane, the Quad Cities.