GALVESTON, Texas (March 15, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District captured the Department of the Army's top public affairs honor, winning first place in the community relations program category of the 2011 Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs and Communications Competition.

The first-place award recognizes the district's aggressive water safety community outreach and public information campaign, launched in 2011, following a number of water-related fatalities at USACE recreational facilities nationwide.

"We are extremely proud to have our own public affairs team recognized in this Army-wide competition for their professional commitment to meet the challenges of our diverse organization and outstanding achievement in executing the Army Public Affairs mission," said USACE Galveston District Commander Col. Christopher W. Sallese. "The district's water safety campaign successfully united our citizens, leaders and communities in a fight against the second leading cause of fatalities in children under the age of 13 and succeeded in realizing a zero water-fatality rate on Corps-owned property within the district, improving public safety at our lakes, recreational areas and public facilities for generations to come."

The Public Affairs and Water Safety teams consisted of USACE Galveston District Public Affairs Chief Sandra Arnold, APR+M, Park Ranger Kristine Brown, Colorado River Lockmaster Simon DeSoto, Natural Resource Manager Richard Long, and Deputy Public Affairs Officer Isidro Reyna, APR.

"Our team's goal was to educate those who use corps facilities, enhance the commitment of community leaders to promote public safety and reduce public fatalities by 50 percent from the previous fiscal year," said Arnold. "The innovative campaign included partnering with nationally recognized water-safety organizations and using social media to maximize outreach efforts to ultimately exceed campaign objectives and contribute to zero water-related fatalities in the district."

While the USACE Galveston District celebrates this tremendous honor, the command has already begun efforts to inform Texas communities about water safety in anticipation of the busy 2012 recreational season, hosting classroom and community engagements prior to the start of Spring Break.

"Spring Break and the upcoming summer months brings an increased level of outdoor activities throughout the State of Texas, especially with outdoor recreation involving water activities on public beaches, swimming pools, boating and other aquatic-related activities," said Sallese. "The Corps understands the important role that education plays in saving lives and is eager to partner with community leaders, volunteers and the public to help reduce fatalities and encourage people of all ages to learn to swim."

Upcoming water safety events include:

• April 1, 2012 -- An "April Pools Day" Press Conference with USACE Galveston District Commander Col. Christopher Sallese, Safe Kids Greater Houston and Harris County Precinct One to kick off the recreational water safety season in Houston.

• April 13, 2012 -- A "Corps in the Classroom" water safety presentation for 3-5 grade students at Matagorda Independent School District to inform students about local water safety issues with beach and rip tides in Matagorda County, Texas.

• April 21, 2012 -- 10th Annual Picnic in the Park sponsored by the Harris County Mental Health and Retardation Authority at George Bush Park located inside USACE Galveston's Barker Reservoir in Houston.

• May 11, 2012 -- Tour of the USACE Galveston District's Colorado River Locks and water safety presentation for 6-8 grade students as part of Matagorda Independent School District's Career Day in Matagorda County, Texas.

• May 25, 2012 - Field Day at the Mouth of the Colorado Jetty Park with students from Matagorda Independent School District complete with water safety activities in Matagorda County, Texas.

About the competition:

The annual Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs and Communications competition recognizes military and civilian employees for professional excellence and outstanding achievement.

The competition is named for Ware, a Medal of Honor recipient in World War II who was once assigned as the U.S. Army's chief of public affairs. He was killed in action in 1968 while commanding a division in Vietnam.

To learn more about the competition, visit www.army.mil/KLW. For more news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.

Page last updated Thu March 15th, 2012 at 00:00