NWRA announces 2017 award winners and Hall of Fame inductees

NWRA announces 2017 award winners and Hall of Fame inductees

Twenty-two individuals will be honored May 9 at WasteExpo in New Orleans.

March 27, 2017

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, announced the recipients of its annual awards March 27 during an event broadcasted via Facebook Live.

Twenty-two industry professionals will be honored for their commitments to safety, contributions to the communities they serve, trailblazing efforts within the industry and the work they have achieved that has made waste and recycling safer, smarter and stronger, NWRA says. Awardees will be honored at the annual NWRA Awards Breakfast at WasteExpo, Tuesday, May 9, in New Orleans.

Individuals are being honored in the following categories: Drivers of the Year, Operator of the Year, Members of the Year, Chapter Leadership and Distinguished Service. Also, four industry legends are being inducted into the NWRA Hall of Fame.

The winners of the Driver of the Year award, sponsored by 3rd Eye and Heil Environmental, Chattanooga, Tennessee, were evaluated based on their driving records, as well as their commitments to customers. This year’s class of honorees includes the first woman to receive this recognition. The recipients are:

  • Javier Verduzco, Large Commercial, Republic Services, Huntington Beach, California; 
  • Jesse Peña, Large Industrial, Republic Services, Phoenixl 
  • Mark Rutkowski, Large Industrial, Waste Management, Baltimore; 
  • Rick Thomas, Large Residential, Waste Connections, Eugene, Oregon; 
  • Halsey Wolford, Regional Commercial, Rumpke, Cincinnati; 
  • Greg Figueroa, Regional Industrial, WCA, Tavares, Florida; 
  • Terry Russell, Regional Residential, Rumpke, Circleville, Ohio; 
  • Derrick Belin, Medium, All Waste Inc., Hartford, Connecticut; 
  • Bill Kuhlman, Small, Walters Recycling and Refuse, Blaine, Minnesota; and
  • Rhonda Kitchen, Public, Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District, Midvale, Utah.

The Operator of the Year Award, sponsored by Volvo, with U.S. offices in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, recognizes the safest and most industrious heavy-equipment operator in postcollection operations. This is a new award and its first recipient will be Bruce Russin of Casella Waste Solutions.

The Chapter Leadership Award recognizes outstanding contributions to advocacy and advancement of the industry through NWRA’s state chapters. This year’s recipient, Charlie Latham with Waste Management, chairs the NWRA Florida chapter.

Distinguished Service Award recipients are honored for their continuing contributions toward the advancement of the industry and for their community involvement. This year’s winners are:

  • Carmen Smothers, Environmental Solutions Group, Chattanooga, Tennessee;
  • James Thaxton, Rumpke Waste & Recycling, Cincinnati; 
  • Robert Pfister, Advanced Disposal, Ponte Vedra, Florida; and
  • Carl Hornbeger, Republic Services, Phoenix.

NWRA Member of the Year awards, sponsored by McNeilus, are given to individuals who make outstanding contributions to the advancement of the industry. This year’s recipients are:

  • Michael McLaughlin, Scranton Manufacturing Co., Scranton, Iowa; and
  • Garrett Trierweiler, Waste Management, Houston.

Four industry leaders are being inducted into the NWRA Hall of Fame for lifetime contributions to the waste and recycling industry:

  • Ronald Mittelstaedt, Waste Connections Inc., The Woodlands, Texas; 
  • John and Douglas Casella, Casella Waste Services Inc., Rutland, Vermont; and
  • Kenneth Burkett, American Waste Control Inc., Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“We are so proud of these men and women for their commitment to safety and excellence and for going above and beyond the call of duty to serve families and communities,” says Kevin Kraushaar, NWRA interim CEO. “I look forward to celebrating them all in May at our annual Awards Breakfast at Waste Expo.”