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Commentary: The people, officials of Newport made dredging project happen

A note from Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle: This week, city officials and others gathered at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club to celebrate the completion of the Lower Bay dredging project. By investing in a community effort in the protection and conservation of our waterways, we insure that future generations will benefit by the passions of those that take up the cause today.

This project would have not been possible without the extraordinary team of professionals led by Col. Thomas Magness, whose unparalleled dedication to service to the nation and the citizens of Newport Beach was evident throughout the project. Col. Magness could not be at the ceremony, but asked that his letter be shared with you:

Dear Friends,

It is with great pride that I send this note of congratulations to the entire project delivery team for the completion of the Lower Newport Bay dredging project. I am sorry I could not be there in person but did not want to miss the chance to celebrate with you, if even just in spirit.


As most of you know, this project was one that could easily have been written off as “too hard to do.” Instead, it now serves as a shining example of what is possible when people work together, think creatively and never give up.

I remember several years ago, my first meeting with the leadership team of Newport Beach during my first visit as the Army Corps of Engineers commander. Then-Mayor Ed Selich, council members like Don Webb, an engineer, and Leslie Daigle, and others explained the challenges.

Our first response was the easy one: “It can’t be done.” I am certain that it all changed when one person asked, “What if it could? What would it take?” This was the beginning of creative thinking, new paradigms and the magic of synergy.

I am absolutely convinced that this is the way we can solve so many of the problems that we continue to face. If instead of saying, “Here is why we can’t …", let’s commit to asking, “What will it take?”


This is the mindset that those who made this project happen — from city engineers, to elected officials, to government public servants — successfully embraced on this project. To each of you, I say, congratulations!

Thank you for your persistence, for your willingness to think “outside the box,” and for your commitment to each other in getting this done.

And to each of you, I now say … Keep it going! Continue to work together as you have on this project — unselfishly and without worrying about who gets the credit.

Keep thinking differently about the problems that you face. Keep challenging your assumptions. And keep pressing until you find a way to “Yes!” The people of Newport Beach, and the community and environment for which you all are charged to preserve, deserve this continuing example of perseverance and professionalism. Don’t let them down.

Proud of you all!

TOME MAGNESS is retired colonel, U.S. Army Commander, US Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles.