There’s a New Colonel in Town


In a very official, traditional ceremony Thursday, the leadership at the Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville district, officially changed hands. Why is this important to you? Because there’s a new man in charge of how Lake Okeechobee is managed moving forward.

Colonel Andrew Kelly, completed his three years of service in Jacksonville and turned over leadership to Colonel James Booth. Prior to joining the Jacksonville District, Booth served as the Engineer Branch Head for the Combined Security Transition Command- Afghanistan. Booth oversaw operations and maintenance support as well as construction oversight for Afghan National Defense and Security Forces infrastructure with an annual portfolio value in excess of $700 million.

Kelly has been widely credited with managing Lake Okeechobee well since he arrived in 2018, the year of the great Red Tide and Blue green Algae debacle. How the lake is managed from here now falls to Colonel Booth.

The Corps is in the optimization phase of the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, which will determine how the lake will be managed for the next ten years. Elected officials in Southwest Florida are expecting the Corps. to reduce flows to our side of the state before the final plan is approved in late 2022. Colonel Kelly has repeatedly promised that will be done.

You can watch a video of the official ceremony from Thursday HERE.

The Change of Command is a traditional ceremony that is rich in symbolism and military heritage. Passing the colors from the departing commander to the incoming commander emphasizes the continuity of leadership and unit identity, despite changes in individual authority. The ceremony also symbolizes the passage of responsibility from the departing commander to his successor.