BREAKING NEWS 4-Samuels retires

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 21, 2016

With his wife, children and grandchildren in the audience, retiring U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Natural Resource Manager at Enid Lake, Billy Samuels (left), was presented the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service medal and coin for his 35 years of service. The award was among countless gifts presented to Samuels, some serious and some fun to celebrate his tenure at Enid Lake.

Samuels retires from Enid after 35 years

By David Howell
North Miss. Herald Editor
ENID LAKE – Outgoing Enid Lake Resource Man-ager Billy “Bill Bo” Samuels was honored with a retirement reception for 35 years of service with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including serving the last 13 as Natural Resource Manager.
    While the pinnacle of his career was likely the national recognition he earned in 2011 for his efforts at Enid Lake to promote and encourage volunteerism, it was the everyday comradery with the federal employees and lake contractors that highlighted the reception last Thursday.
    Samuels was initially hired for a temporary position as a Park Technician in 1981 and became a permanent park ranger in 1985. He remained at Enid Lake for the next 35 years. Early in his career, Samuels pursued his college degree while working full-time and, in 1991, he graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management.
    While at Ole Miss, Samuel began to rise through the ranks – he was promoted to recreation program manager in 1990 and as supervisory ranger in 1994. He was promoted to this current position as Natural Resource Manager in 2003.
    Opening remarks at the reception were shared by Water Valley Mayor Larry Hart, Mississippi Depart-ment of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks official Bob Tyler and U.S. Corps Chief of Project Resources Manage-ment Branch Johnny Kiser as almost 200 people packed the Enid Lake Field office shop to enjoy the fish and fellowship. The fun started as guests and employees were invited to share impromptu remarks.
    Facility manager David Ross wasted no time addressing the crowd in a series of jabs that often reflected budget cuts and government bureaucracy that accompanied the job.
    “That extra money you got us in this year’s budget, we put it to good use,” Ross joked as he instructed Samuels to put on a rubber glove to accept his retirement gift, conveniently stored in a “recycled garbage bag” with multiple recycled items. Ross presented the first of many hilarious gifts, a crude drawing of Samuels giving orders.
    “We ran out of overtime… so we taped the picture to the frame,” Ross explained.
    “That will work,” Samuels quipped.
    “Around the outside we put all those words you kept telling us all these years,” Ross continued. “There was five of us voting, but somehow no came up 15 times, the rest of them were ‘maybe’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘why’.”
    “Just so y’all will know, that’s all budget terminology,” Samuel explained.
    Next Ross presented a list of all those “not-so-great- decisions that you have made, rolling out a large scroll of paper that sprawled across the shop floor.
    U.S. Corps Park Contract Representative Deborah Freeman presented the next gift, a nice collection of lake bottom memorabilia entitled “crap from the lake bed.”
    Samuels got the last word, presenting an array of hilarious awards before his final comments.
    “I look back and I am very proud of what I see here at Enid,” Samuels said as he credited numerous people who helped him in his career and worked in unison to make the lake the best in the nation.
    Accomplishments under Samuels’ tenure as Natural Resource Manager include renovation of campground pads and electrical upgrades in all Class A campgrounds – Wallace Creek, Persimmon Hill, Chickasaw Hill and Water Valley Landing. The same campgrounds also had heating and cooling systems install in all campground restrooms as well as shower houses.
    The Riverview Recreation Area below the dam also had significant upgrades, including replacement of three restrooms and rehab of one restroom, along with the construction of a stage, softball field, fitness area and playground.
    Samuel is also credited for maintaining the safety and integrity of Enid’s dam and its structures while managing a workforce composed of administrative and wage-grade personnel and park rangers. In 2011, he received national recognition for his efforts at Enid Lake to promote and encourage volunteerism when he was presented the Take Pride in America Federal Land Managers Award in Washington D.C.

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