Secretary Norton Presents Awards for Outstanding Service and Valor at 62nd Awards Ceremony to Reclamation Employees

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, (303) 445-3615

For Release: February 02, 2005

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton presented awards to 42 Reclamation employees at the 62nd Department Honor Awards Convocation today in Washington, D.C.

"The Reclamation employees being honored today exemplify the dedication, commitment and professionalism of Reclamation employees throughout the West. They come to work every day not only to do their job, but go above and beyond," said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys.

The Secretary's Four C's Award is granted to a Department of the Interior employee, or a group or team of employees who demonstrate exceptional contributions, methods and efforts to promote the Secretary's initiatives. Bureau of Reclamation employees selected to be recognized with a 4 C’s Award include:

Reclamation employees in the Lower Colorado Region in Boulder City, Nevada, John Johnson, Bill Martin, and Tom Burke were honored for their work on the Lake Havasu Fisheries Improvement Program partnership. This partnership of Federal Agencies; the States of Arizona, California, and Nevada; private businesses, special groups, and non-profit organizations was able to work together to complete the nation's largest fisheries improvement project under budget and ahead of schedule.

Stephen K. McCall, Patrick J. Page, and Louis E. Warner from Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area Office in Grand Junction, Colorado, were honored for their work addressing a limited water supply and sharing of shortages in the San Juan basin. Their facilitation and collaborative efforts among diverse entities protected the continued viability of all water uses and protected the environment.

Employees of Reclamation's Oklahoma - Texas Area Office in Austin, Texas, were honored for their collaboration and communication more then two dozen Federal, State, county, and local entities during damaging water events in 2003, some of which were declared Federal disasters at Choke Canyon Dam in Texas. The work of Larry P. Walkoviak, James W. Allard, Benjamin D. Claggett, Leon E. Esparza, Lewis G. Hall, Thomas E. Michalewicz, Donald E. Moomaw, Forrest R. Rowell, and Matthew P. Warren worked to protect the integrity of the dam and reservoir while minimizing the downstream property and environmental damage. While doing this, they were able to conserve as much water as possible for the historically drought stricken area.

The Department of the Interior Valor Award is presented to employees who have demonstrated unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger. The act of heroism is not required to be related to official duties or to have occurred at the official duty station.

Joe P. Alcon, John B. McKinney, and Jose M. Velasquez who work at Reclamation's Navajo Dam in New Mexico, were honored for rescuing a city of Farmington, New Mexico powerplant employee who had fallen into the powerplants stilling basin. The employees threw a life ring and river bag to the victim and were able to keep him afloat and pull him to the shore. With the help of an electric hoist, the co-workers were able to pull him to safety. Following the rescue, the employees administered first aide for hypothermia and shock. According to Farmington, New Mexico Hospital Staff, these actions saved the victim from certain death.

Chief Richard P. Melim, Lieutenant Charles E Stevens, and Officer Kevin R. Lister of the Hoover Dam Police Department for putting their own lives in jeopardy while saving lives of visitors at Hoover Dam.

The Department of the Interior Unsung Hero Award is a presented to employees who have made valuable behind-the-scenes contributions to Interior.

Rodney L. Tang of Reclamation's Phoenix Area Office was recognized for his service in a variety of activities. He serves as the only civil engineer on Reclamation's dive team. They inspect dams across the West and are often called upon by other agencies because of their expertise. He also serves as a member of the Lower Colorado Regional Climbing Team that performs hazardous inspections, repairs, and improvements to critical Reclamation structures.

The Presidential Rank Awards recognize career Senior Executive service members who performed exceptionally at the executive level for an extended period of time. It is the highest performance honor awarded to Federal civilian employees.

Recognized at the award ceremony were Robert W. Johnson, Reclamation's Lower Colorado Regional Director and J. William McDonald, Reclamation's Pacific Northwest Regional Director.

The HealthierFeds Award recognizes those bureaus which saw the highest percentage of their employees complete the HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge from October 4 to December 10, 2004. Reclamation employee Shenee Turner received the award for the Bureau for her dedication and significant contributions in helping Reclamation complete the challenge.

The Meritorious Service Award is the second highest honorary recognition granted to employees in the Department of the Interior. It is presented for an important contribution to science or management, a notable career, superior service in administration or in the execution of duties, or initiative in devising new and improved work methods and procedures.

Those honored from Reclamation were:

David G. Achterberg
Maryanne C. Bach
L. Albert Brower Jr.
Michael R. Gabaldon
J. Eric Glover
Brent Hansen
Curtis L. Hartzell
William H. Luce Jr.
Kirk C Rodgers
Deborah A. Saint
Bruce L. Stockinger
Larry P. Walkoviak
James R. Weeks
Richard A. Welsh
Barry D. Wirth
Robert W. Wolf
Dr. Chih Ted Yang

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.