National Sustainability Award Goes to South Windsor Official

Connecticut by the Numbers

South Windsor Director of Public Works Vincent Stetson has received a national award for improvements made to the town’s leaf recycling program. Stetson received the Exceptional Performance Award – Sustainability from the American Public Works Association.

The award recognizes exceptional performance that demonstrates outstanding contributions to sustainability in public works. Sustainability is accomplished by the efficient delivery of infrastructure in an environmentally and socially responsible way that ensures the best choice in the long term, according to the award criteria.

The American Public Works Association (APWA) serves professionals in all aspects of public works throughout North America. Membership in APWA is open to any individual, agency, or corporation with an interest in public works and infrastructure issues. The APWA Awards Program recognizes outstanding individuals, groups and chapters representing the best in public works, according to the organization.

APWA points out in the organization’s August magazine highlighting the award recipients that “a critical challenge today facing municipalities across the country is the economic and environmental challenge of managing a community’s organic waste generated from a variety of naturally occurring activities. Annual leaf fall and other yard waste generated from tree removal, brush cleanup, and lawn mowing need to be disposed of in a responsible way.”

“The Town of South Windsor’s Green Waste Management Program demonstrates that with a deep commitment to innovative thought and development of a proactive business plan, a community can enhance green waste efficiency and create a circular economy that produces a sustainable end-product and program, APWA explained.

“Under Vincent Stetson’s leadership and guidance, each phase of the waste generation to refined end-product cycle, has been evaluated, modified, and new significant innovative efficiencies have been implemented that are turning an economically challenged service into a vehicle for future green waste management investment,” they indicated in describing his selection to receive the award.

Stetson, the Journal Inquirer reported this week, worked as the superintendent of public works and tree warden for the town, before being promoted in July to director of public works.  His appointment is so new, in fact, that it has yet to appear on the town’s website.

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Stetson told the JI that the town began looking at options to overhaul the leaf-recycling program in 2017 and developed a business plan in late 2018. The centerpiece of the plan was the purchase of a windrow turner, which led to dramatic reductions in the number of hours required to complete the necessary work.

APWA added that “Summary efficiencies that Stetson has created and overseen include modification to leaf collection equipment, improved transportation methods, investment in leaf turning equipment, compost monitoring and testing, refined end-product screening, regional service compacts, and advanced marketing strategies.”

Connecticut is part of the New England chapter of APWA, which also includes the states of Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. A video highlighting the APWA award winners will be shown at the national PWX (Public Works Expo) in St. Louis, Missouri, August 29-Sept 1, 2021.

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