MOBILE, Ala. – As a boy, Dennis Newell grew up not far from the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Mississippi and watched it develop and grow.
During his freshman year at Mississippi State University, he decided to apply for a Co-Op position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was selected for a position the following term at the Locks A/B Resident Office in Amory, Miss. in 1978.
Now Newell will complete the journey he began 43 years ago as he retires as the Area Engineer, Florida Area Office in the Construction Division of the Mobile District.
“Growing up in Columbus, Mississippi, I was very familiar with the development of the Tennesee-Tombigbee Waterway,” said Newell. “I was able to Co-Op my way through school while still continuing to work on the Tennessee-Tombigbee project. When I graduated in August of 1982, USACE offered me an intern engineer position. After investing four years with USACE, and seeing the vast opportunities available to me, I considered it to be the best opportunity for my future.”
Since becoming the Area Engineer in 2014, Newell has overseen three of the Mobile District’s largest projects, SouthCom Headquarters, The Air Force Tactical Operations Center (AFTAC) and the Tampa Veterans Administration (VA) Bed Tower.
Pete Taylor, Deputy for Programs and Project Management, said that each of the projects’ success could be largely attributed to Newell.
“In my 15 plus years in Mobile, I’ve worked with a dozen or so Area Engineers, Dennis (Newell) is hands down the best and we have some great ones,” Taylor said. “Headquarters recognized the AFTAC facility as one of USACE’s projects of the year in 2017 and the Bed Tower is consistently cited as the model project in the VA-USACE portfolio. His career and contributions have been nothing short of brilliant.”
It is appropriate and no coincidence that Newell retires with the Tampa VA Bed Tower near completion.
George Condoyannis, Mobile District Chief of Construction, said the Tampa VA Bed Tower is another example of Newell following through on a promise.
“Prior to the award of the $165M Bed Tower project, Dennis (Newell) was already retirement eligible,” Condoyannis said. “I approached and told him that he was, by far, the best person to lead that contract as the Area Engineer. I also indicated that if he started the job, we needed him to finish it. Recognizing the significance of this upcoming three-year challenge and its importance to the Corps’ reputation, he committed to remain onboard and see the project through substantial completion. His willingness to make good on that promise directly reflects the depth of his character and embodies the Army Values of duty, loyalty and selfless service.”
Col. Sebastien P. Joly, former Mobile District Commander, said Newell will be missed by many as he retires from his current position.
“Dennis had such a profound impact on the citizens of Florida, our Soldiers and Airmen, our Astronauts, and our Veterans throughout his long and accomplished career,” Joly said. “He’s overcome challenging obstacles to deliver world-class facilities in support of so many and he will be sorely missed.”
Newell said he encourages those who have just started a career with USACE or are considering one, to not miss out on all of the great opportunities available with USACE.
“I chose to spend my entire career with the Mobile District, and I don’t regret it one minute,” Newell said. “However, we are a world-wide agency, so I encourage them to explore those opportunities, even if they are short term or temporary assignments. Second, when thinking about your future look at the big picture. I’m sure people can make more money with the private sector, but when you look at all of the benefits available, including quality of life and life/work balance, you can’t beat working for USACE.”
Newell, who plans on staying in Florida after retirement, said that he and his wife Marcia have recently purchased a boat and he plans to spend time exploring the area by water after he retires. They have also already booked two cruises, Budapest to Passau in 2022 and Amsterdam to Antwerp in 2023. They also had a new grandchild born in May, which he said they both look forward to spoiling.