NASHVILLE – A park ranger at Center Hill Lake received the Natural Resources Management Employee of the Year Award for 2018 last week from the commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division.
Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle Jr. presented the command accolade Oct. 2 at Center Hill Dam in Lancaster to Park Ranger John Malone for excellent leadership and outstanding service within the Natural Resources Management Community of Practice.
Whittle noted in the award citation that Malone exemplifies the qualities of a park ranger through his technical skills, commitment to public service, dedication to the management of natural resources, and an unrivaled work ethic.
The general said the division has a huge Natural Resources Management Program, so the award really highlights Malone’s efforts and his professionalism.
“This says something about the work you are doing, your self sacrifice and your ability to interact with the public, and your hard work and dedication,” Whittle said.
In 2018, Malone served on the division’s Park Ranger Community of Practice Advisory Board, which has national impacts. He used the opportunity to improve programs within the career field and assisted with putting together the division’s park ranger conference.
At Center Hill Lake, he routinely performed at a high level, managing a wide variety of natural resource management programs including the project’s Recreation Use Fee, Volunteer, Sign and Special Event Programs.
Malone coordinated with fishing tournament directors to ensure the best balance between tournament anglers, other recreation guests and the use of project facilities. He also handled requests from the public to use project lands and waters, such as Wakefest, a nationally sponsored event that drew several thousand spectators and some of the world’s top wake boarders.
Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, Nashville District commander, said Malone also worked to answer questions and inform the public about the dam safety rehabilitation project, water safety, special events, high water events, and even developed a presentation to reach interpretative audiences. In addition, he worked with the Real Estate Division to reduce an administrative backlog of applications in the Shoreline License Program.
“He also received the division’s ‘Star of Life’ Award for his actions to aid in the rescue of a visitor at Center Hill Lake in September 2018,” Avichal said. “The victim suffered significant lacerations to his back and arm from the boat propeller, and Malone provided a tourniquet and first aid kit to a trained medic on the scene, providing assistance throughout the response. This required quick thinking, an expedient response, and preparedness during a stressful situation.”
Malone assumed a lot of other duties in 2018 when two fellow park rangers accepted positions at other locations.
Dave Funderburk, acting Center Hill Lake resource manager, said Malone handled his duties and still managed to excel with this extra workload. To pile on, he administered the Volunteer Program that had six less volunteers than normally serve around the lake.
“Despite this, Malone successfully administered the program. These volunteers provided the government over $72,000 in services,” Funderburk said. “The entire staff is really happy to see him get the recognition he deserves.”
Malone thanked Whittle for presenting him the award, but quickly praised others for their help and assistance that led to the recognition.
“I’m honored. I was telling someone earlier that this should be a team award, because I work with a lot of great people, and working with them every day makes it enjoyable to come into work,” Malone said.