Mississippi Valley Division Awards Day

Published June 5, 2014

VICKSBURG, Miss., June 5, 2014 -- The Mississippi Valley Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, held its annual awards ceremony June 5, where the following awards were presented:


The Blankenship awards are among the highest honorary awards presented to Mississippi Valley Division employees by the local commander. The awards cover three categories: engineer/scientist, professional and technical/administrative. Established in 1987, they remember and honor the commitment, dedication and knowledge of the long-time Mississippi Valley Division Executive Assistant who died in 1973.

Engineer/Scientist Award

  Mrs. Renee Turner received the Ernest P. Blankenship Engineer/Scientist Award for the superior performance of her duties as deputy chief for the Upper District Support Team (which covers the St. Paul, Rock Island and St. Louis districts). During the past year, Mrs. Turner coordinated program execution functions on all projects throughout the planning, engineering, construction, operation, maintenance, repair, replacement and rehabilitation phases. In carrying out staff functions, Mrs. Turner was recognized as an authority and required to apply a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the policies, laws, regulations and procedures involving associated technical elements pertaining to duties of the District Support Team.

Mrs. Turner’s technical knowledge of planning, project management, engineering, construction, contracting and operations enabled her to provide outstanding support to the division commander, Programs Directorate, districts and Corps headquarters’ Regional Integration Team. Her leadership and communication skills were needed daily for the successful management and program execution of the districts’ diverse and complex challenges which required expert knowledge of many disciplines and functions. Mrs. Turner was recognized throughout USACE as a subject matter expert in the fields of planning and project management and was often consulted on unique policy issues.

Mrs. Turner’s dedication, initiative and commitment to excellence contributed in a very significant manner to the organizational goals of the Mississippi Valley Division. Her contributions during the past year were significant and resulted in successful execution of the regional program.

Professional Award

Mrs. Clair Purviance received the Ernest P. Blankenship Professional Award for her exceptional performance as a program analyst in the Programs Directorate.

During the past year, Mrs. Purviance served as the program analyst responsible for overall regional management of current and projected civil works construction programs. The Mississippi Valley Division has the largest civil works program within the Corps. She also supported programs functions for all other civil works appropriations within the division. These duties were performed for the complete preparation of assigned Mississippi Valley Division/Mississippi River Commission budgetary funding and work programs. The work included the review of cost estimates, allocation of resources among districts, justification of resources and execution of performance schedules submitted by the six district offices. 

Mrs. Purviance exhibited extensive knowledge and understanding of the nature and interrelationships of operating in the programs community as well as supporting communities. She demonstrated a high degree of analytical ability and knowledge of pertinent statistical, accounting, budget and economic principles and techniques. She used this knowledge and ability to present recommendations and seek conclusions based on analysis relevant to the development and/or effectiveness of new or modified programs objectives and operations. 

In addition, over the past year, Mrs. Purviance coordinated, helped develop and submitted justification sheets in support of the region’s construction program. Her efforts and involvement with Corps headquarters, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the Office of Management and Budget to support all MVD construction projects resulted in additional fiscal year 14 allocations totaling nearly $40 million for the region.

Administrative Award

Ms. Susan Ables received the Ernest P. Blankenship Administrative Award for her outstanding efforts as an administrative support assistant in the Programs Directorate during the past year.

In addition to Ms. Ables’ significant responsibilities as administrative support assistant, she also served an invaluable role in supporting all Operations Division and Mississippi River & Tributaries project efforts. During the past year, the office’s administrative support workload significantly increased and Ms. Ables expertly handled all additional responsibilities she was assigned with professionalism and an outstanding dedication to duty. Her tireless work on the office’s operating budget was exemplary as well  as critical to the continued performance of the Regional and Middle District Support Team, MR&T, Regional Flood Risk Management and Operations Division at MVD.

Ms. Ables demonstrated initiative, persistence and energy in taking on additional duties and performed them with excellence while still executing her numerous routine responsibilities with professionalism and the same standard of excellence.  Ms. Ables’ outstanding performance in covering a multitude of tasks during this timeframe contributed greatly to the success of the MVD Programs Directorate and added great value to the many services the organization provides.


Mrs. Sarah Palmer was the recipient of the  Mississippi Valley Division Woman of the Year Award.

During 2013, Mrs. Palmer served as program manager on the Regional and Middle District Support Team with primary responsibility as the MVD headquarters point of contact for Memphis District program activities. Mrs. Palmer coordinated numerous reviews and served as lead program manager for the Post-2011 Mississippi River Flood repair and restoration efforts within Memphis District, most notably the Birds Point and New Madrid confluence area.   

As MVD regional manager for the Continuing Authorities program (CAP), Mrs. Palmer was responsible for managing execution, budgeting and maintaining policy compliance for the program. She supported the division’s Civil Works Integration Division and Corps headquarters in getting a large number of projects funded. She maintained coordination with the national CAP team and Corps headquarters on CAP process improvement measures and execution.

In addition, Mrs. Palmer served as the regional program manager for the Planning Assistance to States and Interagency and International Services programs, which included responsibility for managing execution, budgeting and maintaining policy compliance. In this capacity, she developed the draft Standard Operating Procedure for planning assistance for the region, providing clear and consistent guidance to the MVD team. Mrs. Palmer also took the initiative to develop a regional partnership agreement model for the planning assistance program for the region.

Mrs. Palmer also managed the reporting to Corps headquarters for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act construction contracts including partnership agreements for environmental infrastructure contracts for the region. She ensured adherence to policy and guidance to ensure proper quarterly reporting per requirements of the Office of Management and Budget.


18 employees, representing 355 years of federal service, received length of service certificates ranging from 5 to 30 years of service.



Bob Anderson

Release no. 14-006