In just a matter of two weeks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District has already participated in four project ceremonies, foreshadowing what the district expects to be a busy spring and summer in 2018.

The first event, held on Apr. 10, 2018 was a groundbreaking ceremony for construction of a new facility at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Canandaigua, NY. While the VA took the lead role of planning and organizing the event, the Buffalo District Public Affairs Office provided support in the event coordination, along with assistance from USACE Louisville District's PAO as well. Nearly 100 people attended the "mega project" ceremony, which featured nine guest speakers, including USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander Brig. Gen. Mark Toy.

The second event in the ceremonial blitz occurred the following week, Apr. 18, as Buffalo District Commander Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski and a contingent of Buffalo District senior leaders traveled west to Parma, OH for a "Project Partnership Agreement" signing ceremony, with City of Parma Mayor Timothy DeGeeter. A PPA is an official agreement between the Corps of Engineers and another entity, establishing a commitment to move forward with a project.

The event was a celebration of a Section 594 sanitation project at Broadrock Court in Parma. The project involves the installation of a 10-inch diameter gravity sewer line that will be constructed from the cul-de-sac of Broadrock Court and connect to the existing public sanitary sewer line. Work is expected to begin this spring. The project is located in residential areas on the municipal borders of Parma and Seven Hills in Cuyahoga County. As part of the visit, the Buffalo District team met with the Mayor DeGeeter and his staff to provide an overview of USACE capabilities and authorities.

Continuing in Ohio, the Buffalo team traveled to Port Clinton for a PPA signing on Apr. 19 for a coastal wetland restoration project along Lake Erie. The coastal wetland restoration project will look to enhance the existing 12.2 acres of wetlands (including invasive plant species control) as well as expand the current wetland by 1.4 acres in the project area. The project, initiated under the Great Lakes Fishery & Ecosystem Restoration program, will create topographic variability, which will promote a greater diversity of native plant establishment and proliferation, coupled with invasive plant control.

The official PPA, signed Jan. 23, 2018, allowed the project to move forward with design and eventually construction. The target contract award for construction is around Aug. 2018, with completion targeted in summer 2019. The total project cost is approximately $1.3 million, with a construction contract expected to be approximately $600,000.

"This is another good step in our work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore our waterways and improve water quality," said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. "Efforts such as this one restore a diversity of plant life, which in turn allows our native fish species to flourish. It is a good example of working with nature to safeguard our freshwater resources."

"The Army Corps of Engineers' investment will help Ohio communities continue their work to protect Lake Erie and the surrounding wetlands," said Senator Sherrod Brown. "Millions of Ohioans rely on Lake Erie, and we must remain vigilant in protecting one of our nation's most important resources."

Also on Apr. 19, the Buffalo District held its first "Pipe Signing Ceremony", to commemorate a sanitation project in Ottawa County. This project will collect sanitary discharges from approximately 173 equivalent dwelling units and deliver it to the city of Port Clinton's wastewater treatment plant. The project includes the construction of gravity sanitary sewer, force main, laterals and pre-cast concrete manholes, and a sanitary sewer pump station with a standby power generator. Construction of the project was awarded for approximately $940,000. The site is located in the Erie Township just west of the Port Clinton, OH city limits, near the mouth of the Portage River.

"The Ohio Environmental Infrastructure Program has significantly improved critical infrastructure in communities across Ohio since its inception nearly 20 years ago," said Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski. "We are proud to partner with the Ottawa County Sanitary Engineering Department on this project to make much needed improvements to the sanitary sewer system that will ultimately help improve the water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin."

As the weather improves and construction efforts ramp up over the next couple months, Buffalo District expects to host a number of other ceremonies to highlight major project milestones. On the horizon is the possibility of a ceremony to celebrate the reopening of the Black Rock Lock, which has been closed since Nov. 2017 because of a gate failure.

To learn about upcoming events, visit the Buffalo District Facebook page @BuffaloDistrict. Photos are available on Facebook and on our Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/buffalousace/.

See full videos of the following events:

VA Medical Center Project:
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/594011/va-canandaigua-groundbreaking-ceremony

Port Clinton Coastal Wetland Restoration Project:
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/595365/port-clinton-ppa-signing-ceremony

Ottawa County Sanitary Sewer Project:
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/595364/ottawa-county-pipe-signing-ceremony