Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pratt Settles into Army Corps' Tulsa District Command

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pratt Settles into Army Corps' Tulsa District Command

Article excerpt

Col. Richard A. Pratt, who assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District in July, has been busy getting acquainted with the stakeholders.

The district covers parts of three states, ranging from southern Kansas to north Texas, and includes all of Oklahoma. The region is made up of two river systems: the Red River and the Arkansas River and all its tributaries, which include the Canadian River, the Verdigris River and the Grand-Neosho River systems. Pratt oversees 38 lakes, six military installations and five lock and dams.

A native of Cape Cod, Mass., Pratt said the district was his first choice because of the national reputation it has within the Corps of Engineers.

"The relationship the Tulsa District has with its stakeholders is well-known, also, the variety of work," Pratt said.

Pratt oversees a staff of 700, a civil works budget of $98 million, and a military construction budget of $100 million. While the civil works budget is flat compared to other years, the military budget is 50 percent of what it was a year ago, said Ross Adkins, spokesman for the Corps of Engineers.

One of the first facilities Pratt visited was the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. David L. Yarbrough, deputy director and operations manager, gave him a tour.

"Col. Pratt made a positive impression on the staff," Yarbrough said. "He listened."

The port is on the western end of the McClellan-Kerr Navigational System, which runs 445 miles to the Mississippi River. The relationship the port maintains with the Army Corps of Engineers is critical, Yarbrough said.

"We work closely with the corps," Yarbrough said. "We are dependent on the Army Corps to maintain the waterway as one of the most important things for our future growth."

Part of the growth includes a long-term plan to deepen the navigation channel from 9 feet to 12 feet, a project that will cost an estimated $188 million. The McClellan-Kerr Navigation System, dug between 1966 and 1970, cuts through Arkansas and Oklahoma, allowing commercial traffic to overcome an elevation difference of 420 feet between the Mississippi River and the Port of Catoosa. …

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