In his first few weeks since taking command of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations in the American southeast, Col. Jason Kelly paid a visit Aug. 18-19 to meet with federal, state, local and military leaders across South Carolina.
Col. Kelly, commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, officially took command of the regional organization in July. Under his leadership, the South Atlantic Division oversees majors engineering projects, large-scale studies and emergency response operations in five states from North Carolina to Alabama.
During his visit, Col. Kelly and the Charleston District executive team met with Fort Jackson leadership, including Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr, commanding general for the U.S. Army Training Center; Col. John Hankins, Fort Jackson garrison commander; and Col. Victor Green, director of installation support and regional engineer for the 81st Readiness Division.
The leaders discussed key infrastructure projects on Fort Jackson and ways the organizations can work together to enhance the Army’s training enterprise and overall readiness. The group toured several Fort Jackson projects, including Semmes Lake and the base’s most newly-renovated reception battalion barracks.
The group also traveled to Columbia to engage state leaders on the agencies’ ongoing efforts to curb the threat of the coronavirus, as well as joint emergency response measures in the event of a devastating hurricane this season. Army Corps leaders met with Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the 29th SC Adjutant General and head of the SC Military Department; Kim Stenson, head of SC Emergency Management Division; Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Bob Caslen, president of the University of South Carolina; and several other federal and state partners.
On Aug. 18, Col. Kelly and Lt. Col. Rachel Honderd, commander, Charleston District attended a joint press conference organized by the SC State Ports Authority to provide an update on the Charleston District’s harbor deepening project, known as Post 45. Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Joe Cunningham, Jim Newsome, SCSPA CEO, and Barbara Melvin, SCSPA COO, praised the project’s speed and highlighted its importance to the state and national economy.
Col. Kelly also traveled to the Charleston Battery, one of the city’s most recognizable historic sites, to talk one-on-one with Mayor Tecklenburg and other city leaders about the Army Corps’ progress on the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study. The Charleston Peninsula Study is a 3x3x3 federal feasibility study that investigates coastal storm risks on the peninsula. The study team will publish a final report next year.
Command Sgt. Maj. Chad Blansett, who assumed responsibility as South Atlantic Division command sergeant major in July, also briefly visited Charleston District, using the trip as an opportunity to meet with Army Corps staff at the Construction and Survey Annex in North Charleston and the St. Stephen Powerhouse.
“So many of our projects and studies — everything from the construction of alternate care facilities for the coronavirus to emergency hurricane response measures — depend on great partnerships with leaders at all levels across the state,” Lt. Col. Honderd said. “Our district is thrilled to welcome Col. Kelly, and I look forward to working with him and our state partners on serving the communities of South Carolina.”