The Association of West Virginia Solid Waste Authorities held its annual conference at Canaan Valley Resort October 26.
Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick was the keynote speaker for the awards banquet.
At that banquet, Ed Riley, chairman of the Pocahontas County Solid Waste Board, was honored as the Association’s 2015 Volunteer of the Year.
The award was presented by Mark Holstine, Executive Director of the West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board.
Holstine addressed the gathering and talked about the commitment of volunteers whose efforts create a better world.
“We know volunteering takes time away from our families to spend hours planning and organizing projects which can unravel in a few minutes,” Holstine said. “But your commitments as volunteers persist, and you find solutions to problems.
This selflessness to sacrifice one’s time, energy and service without expecting anything in return can be rewarding. But sometimes there are days when it all seems frustrating and thankless.”
Holstine then quoted Bill Nye – The Science Guy.
“To leave the world better than you found it, sometimes you have to pick up other people’s trash.”
The AWVSWA is celebrating its 27th anniversary, and much has been accomplished in 27 years, and a lot of trash has been collected and recycled.
“West Virginia is very fortunate to have so many hardworking volunteers serving on its local solid waste authorities,” Holstine said. “The work that you do goes well beyond improving solid waste management in our state; it demonstrates that you are good stewards of the earth… These volunteer efforts protect our environment and improve the world around us.”
In his presentation, Holstine spoke of the implementation of Riley’s vision for the Pocahontas County Solid Waste Authority’s landfill.
“Operating a small landfill located in a very rural county with a sparse population, this volunteer [Riley] was instrumental in the early stages of the Authority in establishing and improving the Green Box system for disposal of residential garbage,” Holstine said. “This innovative system provides affordable disposal at several convenient locations throughout Pocahontas County for residents. Not only does this system provide residents with an affordable disposal method, it helps reduce the problem of open dumps. Collection of the annual Green Box fees paid by residential property owners provides the SWA with income to cover operating expenses. Funding the operation of their landfill would have been impossible without the implementation of this system and fee structure. His conservative leadership and creativity have helped the SWA sustain its operations throughout the years without obtaining loans or county funding.”
It was noted that Riley’s experience and knowledge of solid waste issues and leachate treatment have helped the SWA coordinate its efforts with its regulatory authorities, engineers and contractors.
Riley retired as Pocahontas County Sanitarian. He has been a member of the Pocahontas County Solid Waste Authority since 1989, and has served as its chairman for all but one of those years.