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Bridge Watch 'Dog'
Wednesday, June 05, 2013 11:00 AM
Above: Larry “Red Dog” Collins, Madison-Milton bridge project supervisor for Baker Corp., walks the deck of the new superstructure before its opening. Below: Collins drives from his work trailer to the bridge deck. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchiefirstname.lastname@example.org)
When Larry "Red Dog" Collins was given the opportunity to work on the Madison-Milton bridge construction project, one thought put the everything into perspective.
If he turned it down, Red Dog, who at the time lived in Madison and worked in Henry County, Ky., would have to look at construction every day on his way to work. And he knew he would regret not being a part of such an important project.
"I couldn't pass it up," he said.
He agreed to serve as a liaison for the Indiana Department of Transportation as the project supervisor for Baker Corp.
Red Dog grew up in Henry and Trimble counties, graduating from Trimble County High School in 1995. His nickname came from a combination of his hair color and the fact that most people in the '90s used "dog" as a greeting - "What's up, dog?"
After high school, he graduated from Western Kentucky University with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering technology. Red Dog said he "just kind of fell into" his major. He was good at math in high school and a friend pointed out a transportation scholarship opportunity.
The scholarship would be fully paid by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The Cabinet would pay for his schooling and provide him a job after graduation to allow him to pay off the scholarship.
The scholarship required Red Dog to spend the first two years of college at Western Kentucky University and the final two years at the University of Kentucky.
When Red Dog's girlfriend transferred to WKU, he dropped out of the scholarship program and decided to stay in Bowling Green, Ky., with her. They will celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary next month.
He was still able to get a job with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet after graduation in Bowling Green, eventually transferring up to the Louisville district to inspect bridges and roads. During that time, he lived in Hanover and commuted to the city. He and his wife eventually bought a home in downtown Madison in the Georgetown area.
"We always wanted to be downtown, with the festivals, walking the dogs. We love this area," he said.
Right now, Red Dog's duties include performing material testing, working with the other contractors and overseeing construction work, among other responsibilities.
When he's not doing paperwork in the office, Red Dog walks around the construction site so he has an idea of what tasks are being performed at any given time.
"So you just get to go out there and see what's going on and talk to the guys," he said. "You don't know (what's going on) unless you're out here."
Red Dog doesn't know what he's going to do after the Madison-Milton bridge project completes, but he knows he won't leave Madison.
"I've gotten spoiled, don't get me wrong," Red Dog said with a laugh, referring to his current seven-block walk to work.
Growing up, Red Dog moved around a lot and lived in several rental properties, which he did not enjoy. He anticipates living in Madison and traveling to work.
"Louisville's where the work's at. But I'd rather drive the hour in and out and live here," he said.
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