Trash to Treasure
State Honors DMF Marine Engineer for Refurbishing Vessel
By Patricia Smith
Fish Eye News
Nov. 2008 Archive
Ron Garner admits that at first, he didn’t see potential in the dilapidated boat his boss bought for $25 through State Surplus Property.
It was in very poor shape, Garner said. And when the senior marine engineer for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Resource Enhancement Section saw it hauled to the agency’s South River facility, he felt more than a little apprehension.
“I thought, ‘Oh my god, no way!” Garner said. “I was ready to pay $25 for them to take it somewhere else.”
But months of diligent work proved Garner wrong. The division now has a seaworthy vessel to use in constructing and monitoring state oyster sanctuaries.
Garner’s efforts also earned him a State Employee’s Award for Excellence. He was honored at a ceremony in Raleigh last month.
The vessel was a 33-foot, retired Navy utility boat, built in 1964.
“We had to completely strip it, all the way down to the bare fiberglass,” Garner said. “The only thing left was the hull."
With the help of two inmates, one a carpenter and the other a mechanic, Garner refurbished the boat, laying fiberglass, rewiring for new electronics, building a new pilot house and putting in a new John Deere diesel engine.
“It was just such an overwhelming task for anybody to take on,” said Diana Heatwole, an administrative assistant in the division’s Resource Enhancement Section and the person who nominated Garner for the state award.
“We just don’t have enough state employees like him,” Heatwole said.
In the end, the state put about $60,000 into the vessel, including a $27,000 engine and transmission, said Craig Hardy, chief of Resource Enhancement.
The state got a vessel worth more than double that amount, Hardy said.