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NAVFAC OICC China Lake Recognizes Employees of the Year

11 April 2023

From Edward Cartagena

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Officer in Charge of Construction (OICC) China Lake announced their 2023 Employee, Supervisor and Team of the Year (ESTOY) winners that will compete against awardees from across all NAVFAC Pacific (PAC) Echelon IV commands; the announcement for NAVFAC PAC winners is expected in April.

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Officer in Charge of Construction (OICC) China Lake announced their 2023 Employee, Supervisor and Team of the Year (ESTOY) winners that will compete against awardees from across all NAVFAC Pacific (PAC) Echelon IV commands; the announcement for NAVFAC PAC winners is expected in April.

Award recipients
-Employee of the Year: Jeff Warfield, Engineering Technician.
-Supervisor of the Year: Sal Vargas, Supervisory Contracting Officer.
-Team of the Year: 12-person P-1904 Michelson Laboratory Complex Project Delivery Team, building three technical laboratories and rehabilitation of two of the eight laboratory wings of the historical Michelson Laboratory.

“The accomplishments of each of these individuals, their sustained Program contributions, professionalism and leadership have advanced the earthquake recovery program to new heights. I am honored to name them our OICC China Lake 2023 ESTOY winners!” said OICC China Lake, commanding officer, Capt. Ben Wainwright. “Their laser focus, since the commissioning of this unique Command to restore and advance our nation’s mission at Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake is second to none.”

Employee of the Year
Jeff Warfield serves as the Engineering Technician for the P-1916, Community Support Facilities project, that consists of a multi-purpose religious facility and a new gymnasium, totaling nearly 52,000 square feet of modern facilities for the physical and spiritual well-being of the military and civilians serving aboard NAWS China Lake that broke ground in late 2020 and opened for use in early 2023.

Warfield also serves as the Contracting Officer’s Representative for a 1,300-bed, Temporary Employee Housing Compound, constructed to support the large transient construction workforce working at this remote base in the California high desert.

“Our success has been the quality of people associated with this Program. I get to work with team members from the extended OICC staff, our mutual partners with NAWS China Lake and Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), our contractors, and their subs,” said Jeff Warfield, OICC China Lake, engineering technician. “When it comes down to it, I am having fun.”

Warfield is credited with instrumental contributions to the refinement of specific departmental checklists with local points of contact for all 19 OICC China Lake projects across three construction offices that aid in timely and well planned facility turnover to end users and the Public Works Department.

Supervisor of the Year
Sal Vargas serves as the supervisory contracting officer, managing a Contracting Officer and three Contract Specialists supporting the construction of six laboratories and testing sites within the Salt Wells/China Lake Propulsion Laboratory (CLPL) area at NAWS China Lake, among the most complex and strategically important projects in the Earthquake Recovery program.

Vargas’s selection for supervisor of the year was based on his hands-on approach to personnel management and leadership that has led to an innovative and empowered team ready to tackle the technically diverse and logistically challenging projects at remote construction areas on the base.

“My successes are because of this dedicated and experienced team of professionals,” said Sal Vargas, OICC China Lake, supervisory contracting officer. “Their common focus is to bring these highly technical testing facilities to the teams of NAWCWD on time and on budget is a sight to behold.”

Vargas is also credited with proving focused mentoring and relevant training for his contracting professionals, with the goal of ensuring each member’s capabilities are strategically applied and each are empowered to make contracting decisions within their authorities. A benefit to the earthquake recovery program is a contracting team fully trained and warranted to execute the Contracting Officer's Representative and Authorized Representative roles.

Team of the Year
The OICC China Lake P1904 Michelson Laboratory Complex team of the year consists of 12 members from NAVFAC, NAWCWD, and Parsons Corporation. This uniquely integrated team is tasked with delivering three new buildings and renovating two of the eight wings of the historic Michelson Laboratory using the design build model to hasten the development of these highly technical and advanced workspaces.
The team consists of Pete Benson, supervisory general engineer (team lead), Tom Dorfmeister, requirements program manager, Lt. John Blum, construction manager, B.J. Harger, construction manager, Daniel Dickstein, engineering technician, Tony Cato, engineering technician, Yasaman O’Brien, requirements lead, Gretchen Severon-Ritter, requirements lead, Josh Rivera, government furnished equipment contracting officer representative, Isabel Seuberling, requirements equipment integrator, Heather Brubeck, administrative contracting officer, and Maura Reyes, contract specialists.

The foundation of the Team’s success has been their diversity of interpersonal abilities, levels of communication, fields of expertise, and common focus which contributed to managing and quickly advancing the rapid rise of a new chemistry research facility, environmental laboratory, and replacement Michelson Lab Machine Shop, totaling over 188,000 square feet of new state-of-the-art testing and development space. Adding to the challenge is the complex work of modernizing over 50,000 square feet of office and technical spaces within Michelson Laboratory that was originally built in the 1940’s.

“This team has worked at a relentless pace to maintain communication and coordination with our partners in this effort. There is also the review and processing of modifications to keep this wholly important part of the Michelson Lab construction progressing as planned“, said Pete Benson. “Their efforts and those of the RQ Construction management team were evident in a topping out ceremony (placing the last piece of structural steel), just 13 months after breaking ground.”

The team’s organizational make-up is continually contributing to timely research, review and approvals of separate construction contracts and authorizations with safety regulatory agencies to advance the complex and wide-ranging testing capabilities of these facilities. Agencies involved include the design build team, Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity, Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board, Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, Kern County Air Pollution Control District, and NAWS China Lake’s PWD.

OICC China Lake was established in August 2020 to provide engineering, acquisition, and execution oversight for military construction and repair projects necessitated by the devastating damage from the 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude earthquakes that occurred on July 4 and 5, 2019.

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