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Spotlight: Kevin Norris

Friday, August 10, 2018   (0 Comments)
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1. When did you start surveying?

September 3, 1987, a day that will live in infamy.


2. Why did you get into surveying?

I needed a job. I did not have enough money to go back to college, and a good friend from high school (Barry Vukmer now a licensed land surveyor) told me the company he worked for was hiring. I met every prerequisite for a rodman; 6’ 5” and 230 lbs. and owned a pair of work boots.




3. Describe one of your best experiences while surveying?

Without a doubt, it is the lifetime of connections with people that have become friends in the industry. However, the question probably pertains to an event; and there is one. The first time I was going to be asked to testify in court as an expert witness is that event. I had retraced a boundary survey doing everything that every other surveyor had taught me. I found a deed from the year Lincoln was shot (online which is amazing) that was a key to the case. As for fieldwork, I ran the traverse and in doing recon with a compass and an RTK receiver found a one-hundred-year-old cedar stob next to a pinched pipe set in 1945. The key points of evidence in the case were these two items and explaining a slave ditch to the Judge in the field. The best part of the case was during a recess when my client asked the opposing counsel did you teach every surveyor. Of course, Jim Demma has taught every one of us.


4. Describe one of your worst experiences while surveying?

The worst experiences have to be when I was in the field. It is kind of hard to have a really bad experience in air-conditioning unless it breaks, and the drafters are dripping sweat on the mylars and ink from their pens smears. I saw this happen a long time ago.


My worst experiences are because of extreme weather. One day while doing a boundary survey in a really swampy area it was so hot and humid that cigarette smoke did not rise above the level of your eyes. That day Barry Vukmer killed the biggest copperhead I have ever seen. He killed it with a brush hook within inches of my boot.


The other time was an extremely cold day. When I worked for an office manager that would wait until the coldest day of the year to send a field crew to survey waterfront. That day the moisture from my breath caused the keys on the instrument to freeze. (I had graduated from Vernier plates). Also, it was so cold we had to stop working because the party chief’s feet had turned purple.



5. What type of surveying makes up most of your work?

I currently work for Lorenzi, Dodds, & Gunnill, Inc. and the bulk of the work I do is overseeing the survey components for commercial and residential land development. I am not involved too much with construction stakeout, but spend my time doing boundary surveys (including the field work if necessary), checking subdivision plats, doing the upfront research for most jobs, and aiding with zoning issues.


6. Who are some of the surveyors that influenced your knowledge in the profession (in school or on the job)?

Billy Higgs, Bill Watson, Jim Whitehead, and Jim Lorenzi are the surveyor that have influenced me the most.



7. How did these influential surveyors impact your professional career?

They each gave me the opportunity to succeed in this profession. Billy Higgs hired me and taught me the math and rules of boundary evidence. Bill Watson explained the non-mathematical side of the business while allowing me to design residential subdivisions including the drainage and engineering. Bill Watson made sure that I had the opportunity to sit for my license as early as possible. Jim Whitehead taught me the value of the history of our profession (literally how to follow in the footsteps). Jim Lorenzi taught me the human side of our business allowing for compassion toward employees and clients while fostering the opportunity for me to grow as a professional more than anyone else.


8. What advice would you give to new surveyors?

Humble yourself. Our profession requires us to be better than 99% correct, or we will be out of business. However, you are not always correct. Never stop listening to more experienced surveyors and prepare the younger generation to take over.


9. When you are not surveying, what do you like to do?

I have very little time away from my professional life. However, every chance I have I enjoy being with my wife, children, and grandchildren. Until recently I played competitive sports as often as possible. I finished my career playing basketball with a group of guys from inside the beltway. At forty-nine my body failed, and I retired from all competitive sports.


10. How has surveying changed since you started?

The plumb bob is the change. I have been paid to use a K&E with four level knobs, non-adjusting legs, and a plumb bob hanging over the point while holding a chain next to the scope. I would never have thought that my only use for a plumb bob today is carpentry.


More seriously, it is the use of satellites and GIS. When I started, static GPS observations were only by the government, and now you can obtain an RTN solution in seconds that is more accurate than ever before and immediately display that location on a photo of your site in a computer.


11. Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

The simple answer is the Spirit of God stirred me to pursue law school. This was after my appetite was wet during the case involving Jim Demma. The task of going to law school at the age of 50 while working full time is daunting. However, it has opened doors and avenues that can only allow me to help our profession. I currently work part-time for a property/business lawyer. This opportunity has already allowed me to begin helping surveyors. I truly want to help further our profession while protecting surveyors by counseling, instructing in the classroom, and assisting with efforts in Annapolis.




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