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NWRA Announces 2017 Awardees and Hall of Fame Inductees

The awardees will be honored at the annual NWRA Awards Breakfast at WasteExpo taking place Tuesday, May 9 in New Orleans.

During an event broadcasted via Facebook Live, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) announced this year’s recipients of the industry’s highest awards.

Overall, 22 industry professionals will be honored for their commitment 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. The awardees will be honored at the annual NWRA Awards Breakfast at WasteExpo taking place 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 Cam and Heil Environmental, were evaluated based on their driving records, as well as their commitment to customers. This year’s class of honorees includes the first ever woman to win this recognition.

The recipients are:

  • Javier Verduzco: Large Commercial, Republic Services, Huntington Beach, Calif.
  • Jesse Peña:  Large Industrial, Republic Services, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Mark Rutkowski: Large Industrial, Waste Management, Baltimore, Md.
  • Rick Thomas:  Large Residential, Waste Connections, Eugene, Ore.
  • Halsey Wolford:  Regional Commercial, Rumpke, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Greg Figueroa: Regional Industrial, WCA, Tavares, Fla.
  • Terry Russell: Regional Residential, Rumpke, Circleville, Ohio
  • Derrick Belin: Medium, All Waste Inc., Hartford, Conn.
  • Bill Kuhlman: Small, Walters Recycling and Refuse, Blaine, Minn.
  • Rhonda Kitchen: Public, Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District, Midvale, Utah

The Operator of the Year Award, sponsored by Volvo, recognizes the safest and most industrious heavy equipment operator in post-collection 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 chairs the NWRA Florida chapter. His name is Charlie Latham with Waste Management.

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 SmothersEnvironmental Solutions Group
  • James ThaxtonRumpke Waste & Recycling
  • Robert PfisterAdvanced Disposal
  • Carl HornbergerRepublic Services

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 McLaughlinScranton Manufacturing Company
  • Garrett TrierweilerWaste Management

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.
  • John and Douglas CasellaCasella Waste Services Inc.
  • Kenneth BurkettAmerican Waste Control Inc.

“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,” Kevin Kraushaar, NWRA Interim CEO, said in a statement.  “I look forward to celebrating them all in May at our annual Awards Breakfast at Waste Expo.”

Tickets to the Awards breakfast are available here.

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