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Castle Award a ‘dream come true’ for Chaney

Published Aug. 18, 2016
Maintenance Mechanic Keith Chaney conducts a safety inspection of the W.H. Harsha Dam on March 6, 2015. Reading the piezometers is necessary after heavy rain and snowfall.

Maintenance Mechanic Keith Chaney conducts a safety inspection of the W.H. Harsha Dam on March 6, 2015. Reading the piezometers is necessary after heavy rain and snowfall.

Keith Chaney, chief of maintenance at William H. Harsha Lake, Batavia, Ohio, is the 2016 recipient of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operations and Maintenance Castle Award. The Castle Award recognizes employees who work in support of the operations and maintenance of civil works infrastructure while demonstrating Army values, Corps vision, as well as command mission.

“Winning the Castle Award, particularly at the national level, was quite an achievement,” said Chaney. “I had hoped to win the Castle Award at the Louisville District level during my career, but to win it at the national level is a dream come true.” 

Chaney was commended for consistently demonstrating high standards in operations and maintenance, customer service, safety and professionalism. 

“Mr. Chaney’s superior work ethic and professionalism make him a role model for all Corps of Engineers employees” said Matthew Palmer, C.J. Brown Dam and Reservoir manager, who nominated Chaney for the award. 

Palmer explained Chaney’s numerous contributions to the Miami River Area, which included overseeing the cleanup at Harsha Lake following 2011’s record pool, ensuring new lighting at the lake would not adversely affect nocturnal wildlife, and teaching about water safety at community events. 

“He provides the same level of detail to small, thankless jobs as well as high profile jobs,” said Palmer. “If a job is not up to Mr. Chaney’s high standards for the federal government, he will re-do the job to ensure the government receives the best product that will withstand the test of time and reduce future operations and maintenance costs.”

When the stilling basin was dewatered at C.J. Brown Dam and Reservoir, Springfield, Ohio, Chaney even rescheduled his family vacation to participate.

There was minimal experience in stilling basin dewatering in the Miami River Project, Palmer explained, “Mr. Chaney was the local subject matter expert, based on his experience at Harsha’s dewatering in 2012. He acted as consigliere to the maintenance chief at C.J. Brown, demonstrating dedication and the Army values of loyalty and selfless service.”

Chaney has made the safety of the general public a top priority at the lake as well. Improvements to the Visitor Center overlook deck, stilling basin, and boat ramp have all been done under his guidance and have improved fishing and boating opportunities and public enjoyment of the project’s recreation facilities. 

“Mr. Chaney is constantly striving to make these types of incremental improvements, which accumulated over time, will make significant improvements to the safety of the workers and public at Harsha Lake,” said Palmer. 

“The nominations for this year’s award were extremely competitive, which made the selection of a single best candidate a difficult undertaking,” wrote Edward Belk, Jr., Operations and Regulatory Division, USACE Directorate of Civil Works, in a memo to Chaney. “Considering your accomplishments, everyone wins – particularly the Corps and the public we serve.”

Chaney insisted his success was directly due to the contributions of the team at Harsha Lake.

“This is not just an individual award,” he said. “It is a recognition of the entire Harsha Lake team. The accomplishments that helped win the award were achieved by all the teamwork and trust of the Harsha Lake team.”