This is a fairly inclusive biography all about me. The dates in bold denote updates.
I was born in Roseville, CA at 6:05 pm on Saturday, April 11th, 1970 to Bill and Billie Howell. I am the youngest of 4 (at the time). My mother had been married twice earlier; the first produced Max, my oldest brother. Then Julie was born and put up for adoption and found us when I was 15. The second marriage produced Ray. She then Married my dad and had my older sister Michael then me.
We lived in California for I believe another year before moving to Illinois. Mother and Dad divorced in ’74 and we children remained with her. We moved to Spokane, Washington, back around mother’s family. We bounced around several houses for the next few years until Michael “broke the camel’s back” and she and I moved in with dad in the summer of 1978.
Dad lived in Puyallup, Washington (on the west coast). We moved into a 3 bedroom apartment with Dad, my step-mom Linda “Mom”, and my step-brother Brian. Brian was 2 years older than me and 6 months older than Michael. Halfway through 3rd grade, we moved into a house on a cul-de-sac. There were 7 other houses there and between them all, there were about 18 kids. I lived with dad until I graduated from Gov. John R. Rogers High School. I moved from there to Seattle to attend South Seattle Community College. I went for less than a semester when I decided that I wanted to join the Army.
I left for basic in March of 1989. I actually moved from reception to basic on 4/11/1989, my birthday. I went in as an MP in Ft McClellan, Alabama. I made it through about basic (MP school is “one station unit training” so no independent basic and AIT) when they came through giving everyone a chance to report fraudulent enlistment. I wanted out so I told them that I had done acid when I was younger. The Army decided that because I had qualified for everything, I should be reclassed instead of kicked out. In their infinite wisdom, they sent the fat man to Ft. Lee, VA to be a cook. Once I graduated there, I was stationed at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah.
It was there in Dugway that I met my first wife, Angie. I was 19 and she was 26 with 3 children, Jessica 7, Shawna 6, and Ronald 2. We were married in January of 1990 and in May; her mother had an aneurysm rupture in her head. Angie’s sister flew in from Ft. Drum, NY with her 6-month-old daughter, Amanda. Susan and Angie spent the next couple of months at the hospital with their mom and I was left at home to care for 4 children. When Kay, my mother-in-law, was released, she moved in with us as well as Susan and Amanda.
In January 1991, just prior to Operation Desert Storm, Angie, Susan, and the kids headed for Missouri, where Angie’s dad lived, under the guise of an imminent bombing. The reality was that Angie wanted time away from me, and with her ex. I was transferred to Ft. Lewis, Washington and a little later, Angie moved there with me. After I got out of the Army, we moved to Missouri as Angie said that it was much cheaper to live.
Once in Missouri, I started college, majoring in elementary education. It wasn’t long before I realized that I couldn’t teach young children and eventually I changed to cartography with a survey emphasis. We had moved around Missouri several times during my time there. I graduated in December 1997 from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) with a bachelor’s degree.
I was working with a survey and engineering company in Mt. Home, Arkansas when Angie finally decided that she wanted a divorce. I stayed with Kay for a few months and sometime in there, I met Kim, my current wife, online. Actually, Angie and Kim’s brother were friends online and I had talked to Kim a time or two. We connected and I went to Tennessee on Labor Day weekend in 1998.
I came back and kept in contact with Kim until I decided to move in with her at the end of October 1998. Kim has a son, who was 9 at the time. He is now 19, graduated from high school and working on getting into college. In April 1999, our apartment burned and we were forced to start over. We got a new apartment then we got married on October 27, 1999. I still hold that I didn’t get married on a date; I got married on the Last Saturday in October. We got Maggie, our first Rottweiler, in November 1999. She was (we had to put her down in January 2009, she had bone cancer) the best dog I have ever had. She housebroke herself. She loved all people, especially children. Maggie was friendly and loved by everyone who met her. We got Abigail, our second Rottweiler, in 2004. She is more outspoken then Maggie. Abby thinks she has to bark at everyone, whether they are in the neighborhood or coming through the door.
We finally purchased a home in 2003. It was kind of rushed when we did decide to buy because, just after we made the decision, we found out that Lea Industries, where Kim worked, was closing. I was working for a surveyor that paid “under the table” at the time and we only had her income. We accepted the double wide without it being done and have had problems ever since. Kim has been able to be a housewife up until now but with the economy the way it is, this might change.
Kim was laid off in August 2003 and I quit my job the same month as I had too much “side work” to keep up. I started my own business and haven’t looked back. I partnered up with Tom, providing field work for each other. I am the surveyor so I sign everything but we each had our own clients. In 2008, we had to restructure because of the economy. We now have an official partnership and we equally split all of the income and the debt.
We, Tom and I, have also had to reduce our workforce to just he and I. In the summer of 2006, we had progressed to having a full-time independent crew and both Tom and me had a helper, effectively operating 3 crews and we were still backlogged. Now, it is a struggle to get enough work to keep up mine and Tom’s households.
In 2010, I was diagnosed with type II Diabetes. My doctor told me “you have diabetes, not early onset, not you might have, but you HAVE diabetes. I was placed on 2 types of insulin, a fast acting on I injected as needed before meals and a slow acting one I injected every day. Four shots a day that wasn’t covered by insurance got very expensive. Jump forward 2 years and I find myself still overweight and still on insulin. I met Janet at a TNT meeting. She was a health coach with Take Shape for Life (A division of Medifast). After several months of hearing about it and with Kim’s insistence that we do something about our weight, we went on the Take Shape for Life Plan.
I started the diet at about 250 pounds and in a little over 4 months I was down to 167 pounds. As it turns out, that is too low of a weight for me. I did gain back a bit too much and am now working on getting back to a weight that is fitting for me. Besides the weight loss, I was also able to quit taking insulin. Later that year, I saw my doctor and was informed that I was no longer diabetic.
Back in 2010, I was forced to let Tom go. Business wasn’t enough to support two households. I was scaled down to just me and Kim or Adam to reduce labor costs. In an attempt to build my client base, in 2011 I joined a business networking group, Tennessee Networking Team. I entered their Morristown, TN chapter. I began working my way through all 5 of the TNT chapters and built many relationships that are still strong today. Through this group, I was able to expand my client base to Knoxville and Maryville. This growth allowed me to bring Andy Waddell back on as a subcontractor to help with the field work.
January 2012 I began working with the owners of TNT as their administration person. With corporation structure as it is, I am the CAO (Chief Administrative Office) with one assistant below me.
In another attempt to expand my client base even more, I got with the Tennessee Real Estate Commission and became certified to teach a class, Basic Surveying, for Realtors continuing education requirements. This first class did so well, I decided to expand my offerings by adding 4 more courses related to surveying. I have also joined Women’s Council of Realtors both in Knoxville and in Sevierville. Through this networking, I have been able to bring another person, Travis, on and “promote” Andy to party chief and allow him to have his own crew. Still working as subcontractors, I am able to send them out on jobs and I don’t have to spend much time in the field at all.
All of this “teaching” had renewed my original desire to teach on a more permanent basis. In the fall of 2012, I enrolled at Walters State Community College to take a few random courses to keep my student loans at bay while boosting my GPA (my undergraduate work suffered greatly). In the spring semester, Kim also started to school (full time) and we both took Elementary Spanish I.
While I want to learn Spanish, and will continue to take these courses, that isn’t the most profound thing I picked up from this course. As I befriended my instructor, I learned that she was pursuing her Ph.D. At about the same time, I was contacted by a local teacher who was working on her masters. She needed to have some field experience and the school that she attended was further than she wanted to go to this class. She was able to get her adviser to let her “shadow” me, as a surveyor, for a few weeks.
Inspired by both of these women’s ambition to further their education, my desire to teach and my wife’s bravery going to school led me to where I am, a graduate student at the University of Denver (via online courses). My major is Environmental Policy and Management with a concentration in Natural Resource Management. Additionally, I am taking alternate dispute resolution courses.
This major will allow me to offer more diverse options to my clients as they develop their land. The end result of this further education is to be eligible to teach at a community college level. I will not give up my survey company as long as I can maintain both positions, I enjoy it too much.
A few new developments to add. I have changed my major. It is now a Master of Professional Studies in Organizational and Professional Communications / Alternative Dispute Resolution with an internal option of Organizational Development, Training, and Learning. This new focus will allow me to better assist my clients than the previous one.
I have also stepped down as CAO with TNT. There wasn’t enough time in the day to accommodate everything that I was trying to do.
In late January, I volunteered to work as a mediator with the Community Mediation Center in Knoxville, TN. Later that month found me in “Basic Family Mediation Training,” offered by (and required for family mediation through) CMC. Well into March, and I had only had the opportunity to observe one mediation (two observations are required by CMC before you can work as a co-mediator). Spring classes started and this quarter included “Mediation Principles and Practice.” It was my intent to be mediating before the end of the quarter. This did come to pass, eventually. I have since completed the “Advanced Family Mediation Training” and the “Domestic Violence Training” that CMC offers. I am now trained to mediate divorces with them as well. I am also working on observing civil meditations so I can do those as well with CMC.
Previously, the Tennessee Supreme Court, under Rule 31, formed the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission (ADRC). In this rule, it states:
Section 17. Rule 31 Mediators
No person shall act as a Rule 31 Mediator without first being listed by the ADRC. To be listed, Rule 31 Mediators must pay application fees set by the ADRC and must comply with the qualification and training requirements set forth in this section. All training must have been approved by the ADRC as set for in section (f) below and must have been completed within the fifteen years immediately preceding the application seeking Rule 31 Mediator listing. [Amended April 24, 2009]
In December 2014, having completed the requisite training, I filed my application with the ADRC for listing as a Rule 31 General Civil Mediator. At the review held January 27, 2015, I was approved and am now listed as a Rule 31 General Civil Mediator. With new rule changes, I am theoretically qualified and have therefore applied for my listing as a Family Mediator with special training in Domestic Violence. Having been initially denied for lack of relevant experience at the July meeting, I have requested clarification that will be heard at the October meeting of the ADRC.
On June 5th, having successfully completed my program with a final GPA of 3.98, I walked across the stage at the University of Denver’s Ritchie Center to receive my Master of Professional Studies in Organizational and Professional Communications with a concentration in Alternative Dispute Resolutions.
Fall, 2015, I began at Walters State Community College as an adjunct faculty. I teach SPCH 1010 – Fundamentals of Speech Communication. Both Fall and Spring semesters, I taught 2 sections. I also functioned as an assistant coach of the Forensics and Debate team. I work with them at practices, help them prepare at competitions, drive them to many of those competitions, and I judge many debates. WSCC practices Parliamentary debate, but I have had the opportunity to judge both it and IPDA styles.
I have applied for a full-time position with WSCC as a Communication Instructor at their Sevierville campus. If I receive it, I will be teaching SPCH 1010 at said campus as well as to dual enrollment students at several high schools in Sevier County. Assuming I am hired, I intend on working with the existing staff to bring debate to that campus. My time as an assistant coach at the Morristown campus will be put to use to form a remote club and eventually offer the debate class in Sevierville. Update: I was offered (and accepted) the position at WSCC!
Well into my third semester of full-time teaching, I believe it is time for another update. The first year was a whirlwind of classes and debate tournaments with lots of surveying interspersed. I have befriended many, many new people and am fully enjoying the job. In spring, I get to teach a new course I am creating, Conflict and Communication. It is an elective for the Speech Communication major and allows two communication majors to be fully offered on the Sevier County Campus.
This past summer, we sold our home in Talbott and moved to Sevierville – just 3 minutes from my College. The move was great, even if the cost is higher. It just means I will need to continue to survey a bit longer than my original plan.
Been a while and some major changes. Business is booming – survey business that is. It had become apparent that I was going to have to make some changes if I was going to keep up with it. As much as I love teaching, it doesn’t pay enough to pay the bills. I have to keep my survey company running. The stress level of running a busy survey company AND teaching full-time was too much.
While it may not have been my specific option for resolving this, I became a victim of downsizing at Walters State. Being low man on the totem pole (in my department) and a President looking to reduce the number of full-time faculty and increasing the number of adjunct faculty brought my career at Walters State to a close.
This does now allow me to focus on my survey company more and get back to mediating with the Community Mediation Center. The latter will wait while I work on the former. I am expanding the number of employees and functionally, the number of crews.