A HISTORY OF SERVICE TO MEMBERS
Creation of the SVSWMA
In the mid-seventies, solid waste management in Virginia was far different than what we know today. In Southwest Virginia, nearly every county, nearly every city, and even some towns operated a landfill. These landfill facilities had little in common with the highly-engineered, multi-million dollar, highly-regulated, landfill facilities we know today. The Virginia State Health Department had oversight of these landfill facilities, including permitting responsibilities. Early landfill permits were often one-page permits with only basic information included. Due to the passage of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, landfills across the nation would face new stringent requirements. Landfill owners across Southwest Virginia began bracing for significant changes. Click here to see an example of an early landfill permit.
Owners and operators of these early facilities had a desire to share information, collaborate on training, and have a voice with future State regulatory actions that would certainly impact the solid waste industry in Southwest Virginia. As a result, in the mid-seventies, landfill managers throughout Virginia began forming regional associations. In late 1976, Olin Willis, an employee with the Bureau of Solid Waste and Vector Control of the Virginia State Health Department’s Abingdon Office, sent a letter to landfill managers across Southwest Virginia. This letter invited those interested in forming a regional solid waste association to attend an upcoming meeting. At a meeting at the Holiday Inn – Wytheville, held on December 16, 1976, the Southwest Virginia Solid Waste Management Association (SVSWMA) was formed. Sixteen individuals were in attendance and officers elected. On February 16, 1977, bylaws were enacted officially forming the association. Click here to see the letter inviting landfill owners. Click here to read the minutes from the first meeting of the association.
Impacting Solid Waste Management in Southwest Virginia and Beyond
By mid-1977, several members of the SVSWMA were quickly appointed to relay concerns to a State appointed Solid Waste Commission on such topics as: waste tires, brush, non-returnable plastic containers, weight-limits on trucks, overlapping regulatory authority, and solid waste educational programs. While the specific solid waste issues that face Virginia have changed and are significantly more complex since our early days, the SVSWMA continues to have a voice in regulatory actions impacting solid waste management in Virginia. The SVSWMA has participated in many stakeholder meetings, advisory committees, and boards over the years and has helped shape solid waste management in Southwest Virginia and beyond.
Quality Quarterly Training
At the first meeting on December 16, 1976, it was decided that the SVSWMA would meet quarterly. Quarterly meetings during the early years focused on facility tours, educational films, and slideshows. Attendance at these early meetings was sparse and generally consisted of about 10 individuals per meeting.
The concept of quarterly meetings continues today. Today, facility tours also remain an important component of SVSWMA quarterly meetings. Films and slideshows have long since transitioned to powerpoint presentations and more interactive training. Attendance in all of our training events is also significantly higher. However, one constant remains the same, the SVSWMA remains committed to quality training for our members.
Standing the Test of Time
Directors from each regional solid waste association, including the SVSWMA, were appointed to a State Solid Waste Association, which was formed in February 1978. However, by 1986, the State Solid Waste Association was inactive. Today, the SVSWMA is the only regional solid waste association that remains in Virginia. Although the SVSWMA is based in Southwest Virginia, the Association welcomes members from outside the area. In the past 37 years of existence, the SVSWMA has grown to include members from across Virginia and beyond.
In September 1982, the SVSWMA hosted the State Solid Waste Association annual meeting in Blacksburg, Virginia at the Sheraton Red Lion. The SVSWMA again hosted the meeting in September 1984 for what the association would later to refer to as the 1st Annual Conference. With the State Association dissolving, the SVSWMA began fully operating and fully funding the annual meeting in 1986 as the “2nd Annual Conference.” Click here to see the 1986 conference agenda. In 1990 a golf tournament was added to the annual conference.
The annual conference, typically held every September, remains our signature event with an attendance of over nearly 200 individuals. The annual conference offers educational sessions, equipment demonstrations, and vendor displays. Moreover, the annual conference allows attendees to network with colleagues in the industry. Click here to access the current conference information page. Click here to see a full-listing of the location of each past annual conference.
Affordable Dues, Continuing Education, and a Growing Membership
In 1978, the first SVSWMA membership dues were charged. Membership was assessed at $20.00 per year. By June 20, 1978, the SVSWMA had a bank account of $140.00 with seven paying members.
Our individual membership is now only $30.00 per year which represents a significant value for our members. The $30.00 fee includes training and lunch at three quarterly meetings. In addition, the SVSWMA provides continuing education credits at these three events. From our modest beginnings with seven paying members and limited resources, the SVSWMA is now financially sound and has nearly 200 members across Southwest Virginia and beyond. The SVSWMA boasts several municipalities/members that have been part of the association for over 30 years.
Changing Communication in Changing Times
In 1976, when the SVSWMA was created, the cost of a first class stamp was 12 cents. The U.S. postal service would remain as the predominant method of communicating with members for the first 25 years. On March 5, 1987, the SVSWMA began issuing the “SVSWMA Communicator” a quarterly newsletter mailed to each member. Click here to see Volume 1, Issue 1.
At the turn of the century, the SVSWMA began transitioning correspondence over to an electronic format. Today, the SVSWMA relies upon email communication and the newly redesigned website for communication with members.
Administrative Staff Committed to Service
The SVSWMA has been fortunate to have dedicated support for administrative functions. Maintaining membership databases, registrations, and financial records is no easy undertaking for the association. Fortunately, the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission in Marion, VA agreed to house the administrative function of the association for decades. Lynn McKinney, an employee of the Mount Rogers PDC, diligently provided the administrative service when she became a member of the SVSWMA in 1986, until her retirement in early 2013.
Beginning in 2013, the association was fortunate to find a new host for providing the administrative functions of the association. The New River Valley Regional Commission in Radford, VA now provides this service.
Board of Directors Committed to Service
The SVSWMA currently operates with a 9-member Board of Directors. Board members serve 3-year, staggered, terms. The Board of Directors appoints the officers to the positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Since the inception of the SVSWMA, over 50 Board members have diligently served the organization. For a listing of current Board members and contact information click here. The following are historical listings of Board Members:
From the humble beginnings of the SVSWMA, to the vibrant organization that exists today, there is a consistent theme of providing quality service to members. To those not currently a member, we invite you to see what the SVSWMA can do for you! Click here for information on how you can become a member!