Kitsap County Commissioners, Public Works surprise winners of ‘Earth Day awards’

Earth Day AwardsKitsap County Public Works has presented the annual Earth Day awards since the early 1990s. The awards are presented to individuals, organizations, schools and businesses for their distinguishing environmental programs or projects. In the past, the recognition ceremony took place at the Board of County Commissioners regular scheduled meeting prior to Earth Day, April 22.

This year, Public Works and the Kitsap County commissioners surprised winners at their workplaces with a visit from our Earth Day Prize Patrol. Tune in to The Inside Report and watch their reactions and learn more about how they earned the award. The winners exemplify environmental leadership qualities in programs or projects that emphasize sustainability, waste reduction, recycling, and litter control. These outstanding achievers make a difference every day as they lead the way and make others aware of environmental issues.

Central Kitsap

Adopt-A-Road Volunteers —
Central Kitsap Adventist School staff, parents, school board and local congregations

The parents, staff and school board members of the Kitsap Christian Adventist School participated in group litter pickups during two separate events in 2016. They also have volunteers from community churches who help out and find very interesting things along the road, like softballs and dead animals.

Last year, the group removed over 300 pounds of litter from 2 miles of roadway near their school in the Chico community. During six cleanups over the last three years, these dedicated volunteers have cleaned up nearly 1,000 pounds of roadway litter.

Principal Becky Rae said, “We enjoy helping keep our community clean, and the Adopt-a-Road program also helps us get to know our neighbors. Many of them come out and thank us for picking up the litter.”

North Kitsap

Environmental Education —
Susan Knell, French teacher, Woodward Middle School

When it comes to waste reduction and recycling at Bainbridge Island School District’s Woodward Middle School, all arrows point to one person, French teacher Susan Knell. From the assistant superintendent, to the principal, to teachers, to administrative staff, they all tell of how she has impacted their waste reduction and diversion practices, both at school and home.

Many of them often find themselves thinking, “What would Susan do?” when planning a school event or taking care of their own garbage and recycling.

Knell spends her own lunch teaching students new recycling behaviors. Almost everyone now puts in the extra effort needed to sort their lunch garbage from the recyclables. She is changing the way they think and act, literally one person at a time. Her passion for “materials management” is infectious. She is also a knowledgeable and vital resource for coordinating green efforts throughout the district.

District Assistant Superintendent Erin Murphy said, “I have been continually impressed by her passion and dedication to environmental sustainability. She is always open and willing to assist in problem solving efforts to help facilitate change.”

South Kitsap

Waste Reduction and Recycling —
George Heitman, facilities supervisor, CRISTA Camps

George Heitman, the facilities supervisor at CRISTA Camps Miracle Ranch, spent much of his time last year coordinating logistics to implement recycling in a large venue that hosts both overnight and day camps. He is a man driven to do things well and efficiently. When he sees a gap between a problem and an opportunity, he is quick to jump to a solution.

In order to collect and divert comingled recycling more efficiently, bins and containers were strategically collocated with garbage cans in both cabins and public areas. New procedures were established for recycling collection from multiple locations throughout a large area of operation. With an average of 216 new campers per week, education was conducted by staff weekly on how to recycle the right items and recycle more. Heitman was also instrumental in recycling used cooking oil from the kitchen.

According to Operations Director Shane Carlson, “He long ago earned the trust of the camp’s leadership, and they know if George thinks it’s important, it’s going to be worth the time and effort to complete. We have reduced our garbage by one-third!”


Clean Kitsap —
Sheriff’s Office Corrections, inmate project coordinators Wayne Chase and Chris Lacombe

As part of a comprehensive litter control program for county roads, the Corrections Division of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office employs a small workforce — the inmate litter crew — to provide monetary savings to the taxpayer in the continuing effort to keep Kitsap County clean. With funding from the Department of Ecology and the county’s Clean Kitsap program, a second litter crew was added in 2014, increasing the capacity to clean up litter and illegal dumps.

In 2016, Inmate Project Coordinators Wayne Chase and Chris Lacombe improved this existing program. By keeping motivation alive in their participants, the crews cleaned up SR-3 from the sewer treatment plant south to Gorst. To accomplish this, they coordinated with Washington State Department of Transportation for traffic assistance.

The benefit to the community is noticed and appreciated, and many residents have taken the time to talk to the coordinators. The annual commitment for roadway litter cleanup was 1,600 miles. They more than doubled this at 3,473 miles of roadway and removed 460 illegal dumpsites from county roads and other public properties.

Kitsap County Recycling Coordinator Chris Piercy warns, “These crews are not a license to litter for motorists.” He adds, “These two do an amazing job keeping Kitsap clean, and what we really need is for all of us to do our part and make sure garbage ends up where it belongs — in the garbage can.”

The Inside Report

Watch the winners receive their awards on a special edition of The Inside Report. You can watch The Inside Report on BKAT (channel 12 on Comcast and channel 3 on Wave). It airs Mondays at 5 p.m. and Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. To watch current and previous episodes of The Inside Report go to this link.