Article taken from November, 2004 edition of Point of Intersection
LIFE MEMBER, GEORGE M. WEST
This is the sixth in a series of biographies on our life members.
George M. West was born in Liberal, Kansas on February 16, 1934. At the age of one and a half years, more or less, George brought his family to Arkansas. He grew up in Levy, which has been part of North Little Rock since the early 1940’s. George attended schools in Levy and North Little Rock and graduated in 1952 from North Little Rock High School (now North Little Rock High-West Campus). In 1964 he married Brenda Joy Sutton. George and Brenda have two sons, two daughters-in-law and two granddaughters.
After graduating from high school in 1952 he attended Arkansas Tech. at Russellville for two years and summer school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
In October 1954 West joined the United States Army, where, after basic training, he attended The Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Upon graduation from the Topographic Surveying Course in April 1955, he was assigned to the 48th Engineers at Fort Sheridan, Illinois for about eight months. During that time, while on temporary duty, he worked on a Boundary and Topographic Survey of Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. Shortly after completing the survey at Fort Benjamin Harrison the 48th Engineers was deactivated and George was transferred to the 30th Engineer Battalion, Topographic, Fort Winfield Scott, San Francisco, California. In January of 1956, again while on temporary duty at Yuma Test Station, Arizona, West first became familiar with GLO Surveys and GLO land corners. The original GLO monuments there were iron pipes with caps designating the corners represented and they were somewhat hard to find out in the desert (no pin finders). After being there for a couple of months, George received orders that he was to be sent to Iran, where he was to serve as an instrument man on a Level Party. They were to run a precise level line from a tide gage in the Persian Gulf to the Turkish border (1500 miles +/-). Part of the project involved making a river crossing of the Tigris/Euphrates River at the Persian Gulf from a tide gage in Al Faw, Iraq. Does that sound familiar to you? We stayed there for a few days. This was one of the widest river crossings ever made with a precise level line. A procedure which had been developed for crossing the Mississippi River was used. West served as instrument man on this project for approximately one year, prior to returning to Fort Scott to be discharged from the Army.
Returning from the army in October 1957, George went back to college in the spring of 1958 at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to study engineering. He received a lot of education, but no degree, prior to leaving in the spring of 1961. His favorite courses were in surveying, especially land surveying and even more especially, the GLO Surveys.
From May 1961 through October 1964 West worked for the Arkansas Highway Department as a Jr. Instrument Man in Construction and as an Estimate Technician in the Final Estimate Section.
In November 1964, West left the Highway Department and went to work for W. D. (Dwight) Little, an Engineer in Jacksonville, as the only full-time employee. Property surveys were a major part of the business. Brenda never said it, but she surely thought it; ‘Where is the security?” Well, there wasn’t any. West became registered as a Land Surveyor on January 23, 1968 and on June 1 of the same year bought Mr. Little out and started West Surveying Company.
June 1, 1968 is also the date of West’s membership in AARLS (Arkansas Association of Registered Surveyors). From then on, George was involved. He served on the Ethics Committee, Monumentation Committee, and the Calibration Base Line Committee. West also served as District Director, Vice President and President Elect prior to serving as the 11th President of AARLS (1978-1979). From June 1968 through March 2003 he has attended most conferences and shortcourses offered by the Association.
West was opposed to part of the original provisions of Act 458 of 1973, an Act to Create a Division of Land Surveys and the office of State Surveyor. A. J. Robinson traveled from Wicks to Jacksonville to talk to West about his opposition. With some changes in the wording, West was satisfied and has since been a strong supporter, even more especially now, since the office has once more been moved to the Land Commissioner’s Office. West was also opposed to required continuing education, but Max Hall convinced him otherwise and George has since been a strong advocate of continuing education.
In 1981 West was appointed by the State Board to serve on their Land Survey Committee where he served for nine years, filling the position vacated by F. M. (Max) Methvin. At that time the Land Survey Committee interviewed every LSIT and LS applicant at least once before their taking the LS exam.
1. According to O. K. Davis, now deceased, Sales Representative of Schonstedt Instrument Company for many years, George bought the first Schonstedt Pin Finder in the State of Arkansas. West went to the AARLS Convention at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs specifically looking for something better than a “Dip Needle” to help locate property pins. He spent more time visiting with O.K. and trying to buy his exhibit model than in the conference meetings. O.K. finally agreed to sell his exhibit model, provided his home office would ship one to Louisiana for his next survey conference the next week. George and O.K. remained great friends from then until O.K.’s death a few years ago. Many times he had invited George and Brenda to visit him and his wife in Reston, Virginia. They never did and have always regretted it.
2. George bought the first scientific hand held calculator that he ever saw, an HP 35. It was awesome, no more trig tables or interpolation; only, you had to convert from DMS to decimal degrees and back.
3. His first computer was a WANG. It had a great surveying program with Crandall’s Least Squares adjustment, as well as the Transit and Compass Rule adjustments.
4. George was one of the first if not the first surveyor in the State to put caps on his survey pins with his name and PLS number. A survey party chief from another firm came into West’s office one afternoon after finding a rebar with one of West’s plastic caps and stated that it was one of the best things he had ever seen. He went on and on about how great it was to find a monument with a cap on it that identified the surveyor who had set it. He knew exactly where to go to find out about it. West gave him a copy of his survey which, by the way, headed off a land dispute.
George was in private practice as a surveyor in Jacksonville for 28 years (1964-1992) employed by Isbell Surveying & Engineering for nine months in 1992, and is now the Staff Land Surveyor in the Surveys Division of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department where he has been since October 1992.
Articles Published in H.I.’s & P.I.’s:
- “Madison/Washington County Line”
Advice for Surveyors, especially young Surveyors:
- Get involved in ASPS.
- Be professional.
- Practice good business ethics.
- For those in private practice;
- Know and understand “The Cost of Doing Business.”
- Don’t be a cheap surveyor. Be a Professional Surveyor and require a professional fee for your services.
- Don’t do drive-by’s.
- Don’t ever lose your H.I. Ä