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Don King and Ancil Taylor Honored as WEDA Members Gather in Nashville for Annual Meeting

Awards to dredging industry icons, a new slate of officers, a talk on the new Corps Dredge Murden, 56 technical papers, 42 exhibits, and the musical backdrop of Nashville, Tennessee, marked the 32nd Western Dredging Association meeting and 43rd Texas A&M Dredging Seminar on June 4 – 9.

At the Tuesday evening dinner dance, the announcement that Don King was receiving the Lifetime Service Award drew a standing ovation, and Don provoked a laugh when he said “I thought you only gave this to the older people.”

At 83, he is still involved in the day to day business of his company Dredge & Marine Company LLC, (DMI) which he sold last year to the John W. McDougall Company. The award honored his 50-plus years in the dredging industry, that included stints with portable dredge manufacturers Dixie Dredge Corp., AMMCO, DredgeMasters International and DMI, which he started in 1988. (See photo on page 5 of this issue, and also Don King Is marking 50 Years in Dredge Building and Exporting, IDR, November/December 2010.)

Drawing an equally positive response from the crowd was the announcement of Ancil Taylor as Dredger of the Year. As “the chief architect of the sand berm project”, Taylor was in the international limelight last summer as he coordinated the planning and execution of a berm system structure to protect the extensive Louisiana and Mississippi coastline from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Taylor is vice president of Bean Dredging Company, and has been working in the industry for 33 years, managing all aspects of dredging and dredge types. He has a B.S. in construction management from University of South Mississippi.

The new Environmental Excellence Award, with two categories – navigation dredging and environmental dredging – went to the Columbia River Channel Improvements Project (CRCIP) for navigation, and the Wisconsin Kinnickinnic River cleanup project (the KK project) in the environmental category.

Team members from both projects were on hand to accept the awards at the Tuesday dinner dance (see photos on page 38).

In announcing the two selections Paul Quinn said “There were six projects submitted for consideration which was very encouraging for the first year of this award. The competition was significant and each of the projects was top notch; which made selection difficult, but clearly a testament to the quality of dredging projects being accomplished throughout the United States.”

Honorable mentions were, for navigation dredging: Golden Pass LNG Terminal-Black Lake Beneficial Use Site, Louisiana; Dominion Cove Point LNG, Maryland, salt marsh restoration; and J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area, Salt Bayou Marsh Restoration Project, Texas. Honorable environmental dredging mention was the Lower Fox River Cleanup Project.

The Columbia River Channel Improvements Project was recognized for using a formal adaptive environmental management process. The CRCIP deepened 103 miles of the Columbia River, providing access for deep draft vessels and significant economic benefits” while ensuring that juvenile salmon and sturgeon habitat quality and availability were not diminished during dredging and disposal of dredged material.” stated the award. “The CRCIP Adaptive Management Team and its dredging partners are recognized for their role in ensuring that the Columbia River deepening protected salmon, sturgeon, and other aquatic resources by regular and timely monitoring, evaluation of environmental risks and benefits, and instituting best management practices. The Portland District of the US Army Corps of Engineers is the project owner.”

Minutes later, Tom Verna announced that the CRCIP project and dredging contractor J.E. McAmis had won the 2011 WEDA Safety Award for the rock blasting portion of the project.

The Kinnickinnic River Project was selected for the dredging of PCB and PAH contaminated sediments from Milwaukee’s Kinnickinnic River, contributing to the removal of restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, and achieving the project’s goal of cleaning up the river with the support and involvement of the public.

“The project is a model for multi-stakeholder collaboration, technical innovation, workforce development, and waterfront revitalization,” stated the award.
The project owners are the US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The technical program included 56 presentations that covered the gamut of dredging issues, including channel maintenance and deepening, environmental cleanup using dredges, hydrographic surveying, and new equipment and technologies available to the industry.

Opening the program on the first day, WEDA President Paul Quinn noted the importance of the organization in exchanging the information vital to doing business in the industry today.

He introduced Maj. W. Judson, deputy district Commander of the Corps Nashville District. Maj. Judson welcomed the group to Nashville on behalf of the district’s 800 employees, who manage the navigation, hydropower, flood, water supply and disaster preparedness missions of the District. He described the flood on May 1 through 3, 2010, when more than 17 inches of rain fell in 36 hours. The Cumberland River crested at 51.8 feet in Nashville, causing catastrophic flooding.

Anna Csiti, director of the Central Dredging Association (CEDA) gave a brief presentation inviting everyone to the 20th World Dredging Conference – WODCON XX – to be held on June 3 through 7, 2013 in Brussels, Belgium, a 1000-year-old city with a rich architectural heritage. The call for papers will be issued at the end of this year, she told the group. Technical visits will include the AMORAS sediment basin in Antwerp, established to contain contaminated sediment.

Ancil Taylor started off the technical presentations at the opening session with an overview of the oil berm project in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last summer. The berms reduced 8,000 miles of shoreline to 100 miles, he said, as he summarized the processes and problems the U.S. Dredging industry overcame to manage the response, not the least of which was obtaining government permits for dredging and placing fill.

The berms were constructed in the locations of historic islands, and a year later, they have morphed back into the footprints of those islands, said Taylor. In response to a question about the environmental effects of the project, Taylor said that this has become one of the greatest years for plovers nesting behind the berms, with a count of 6000 nests.

“The biggest detractor became our best friends,” said Taylor of the Fish and Wildlife Department.
Following Taylor’s address, the group split into two sessions for the rest of the Texas A&M (TAMU) Annual Dredging Seminar for the rest of the day, in which 20 talks were heard. Dr. Robert Randall, professor of Ocean Engineering and head of the Center for Dredging Studies at TAMU spearheaded the day of talks.

Tuesday and half of Wednesday saw technical presentations in three sessions, with breakfast, coffee breaks and lunch in the exhibit area.

The traditional board of directors dinner on Monday evening saw board members, WEDA officers, overseas guests and press members gather for a hosted dinner. The WEDA management presented Barry Holliday, executive director of the Dredging Contractors of America (DCA), with a plaque honoring him for his work with and for the dredging industry.

At the Tuesday luncheon, representatives of the Corps Marine Design Center and Conrad Industries, Inc. described the ongoing construction of the new Corps hopper dredge William R. Murden, at Conrad’s Morgan City, Louisiana facility.

Skip Hubert, former president of T.L. James & Company and now an independent consultant, talked to the group about the dredge and about Bill and Dottie Murden.

“Bill was instrumental in getting me into the dredging industry after I retired from the Corps,” said Hubert. He “He was a leader in coastal and beach restoration, especially the use of (offshore) underwater berms,” he said.

“Bill and Dottie were known throughout the world,” especially among the dredging companies in Europe, he said.
He described the new split hull hopper dredge, which is a “miniature Mermentau”, referring to a split hull dredge built by Gulf Coast Trailing Company, the hopper dredge arm of T.L. James.

The dredge was scheduled for launch in May, but “the Mississippi River didn’t cooperate,” he said, referring to the flooding that required opening the Morganza Spillway, allowing in influx of water into the Atchafalaya Basin, where Morgan City is.

Morgan City was ‘ground zero’ for the flood, said Hubert. With advance notice, the company was able to build a berm around the Murden’s hull to keep it from being washed down the river, and the dredge house and equipment were stacked in a shed, away from the water.

“The water got to 10 feet three inches, said Hubert, and the dredge would have been underwater without the levee.
“Bill would be proud of WEDA,” said Hubert. “When it started, it was just a few companies and a few Corps people, and now look at it,” he said.

On the last day of the conference, best paper awards were presented to the following:

Jurgen Dhollander of the International Association of Dredging Companies (IADC) presented the best paper by a young author to Brianne Cohen for Evaluating Alternatives to Improve Dredging Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness for Inland Marsh Restoration Projects.

The Dredging Contractors of America paper award: William Wetta II for Improving Dredge Efficiency and Production Through Automation, which was presented by Charles Johnson.

Speaking on behalf of his brother, Robert Wetta told the group that William would donate the prize money back to WEDA.

The Great Lakes third place award went to Robert Ramsdell of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company for Technical Inputs to Dredging Cost Estimates.

At the business meeting on Tuesday, Robert Wetta was confirmed as the new president of WEDA, and Paul Quinn was confirmed as chairman of the board. Michael Gerhardt, Marcel Hermans, and William Hussin were confirmed as new board of directors members, and Robert Wetta, whose term had expired, was reconfirmed for a new term. The board terms of Kathryn Curtis, Rodney Linker, Albert Savage and Tom Wang expired, and they left the board amid many thanks for their service, each receiving a commemorative plaque.
Barry Holliday was also singled out for thanks and a plaque describing the good he has done and is doing for the dredging industry, in the Corps of Engineers and now as executive director of the Dredging Contractors of America.

Paul Quinn thanked all who had made this years meeting possible, including the exhibitors; the authors and presenters of the many outstanding papers; sustaining members and sponsors of the icebreaker, refreshment breaks and golf tournament; Bob Randall of Texas A&M for the outstanding Texas A & M Dredging Seminar; Ram Mohan for the great WEDA technical program and editing the Journal of Dredging Engineering (Without his and Bob Randall’s efforts this conference would have been quite boring); Nancy Patella for her hard work on behalf of the spouses program, and Larry Patella for his efforts in putting together this outstanding conference.

Next year the Annual Western Hemisphere Dredging Conference – WEDA 32 and the Texas A&M 43rd Annual Dredging Seminar – will be held on June 10-13 at the Crowne Plaza Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

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