Since Kevin Hendrick was forced out of his post as director of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, he has spent time travelling the state to collect awards - one created specifically for him - in recognition of his achievements with the local agency.
Hendrick recently attended an awards ceremony in Pasadena held by the California Product Stewardship Council, a network of local governments, businesses, NGOs, and individuals working for the production of safer, greener products that can be recycled more simply when the product's useful life is over.
"Mr. Hendrick is the winner of the 'EPR Super Hero Award,' created just for him, for the most outstanding contributions of any individual to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) movement, to get producers to share in the responsibility for their products' entire lifecycle," the CPSC said in a statement.
The recognition stemmed from programs that Hendrick started in Del Norte County that save businesses and local governments money, like the free collection of some hazardous wastes such as batteries and sharps, or inconvenient ones like used carpet.
The Del Norte waste agency started one of the first six rural county pilot projects for carpet collection, where consumers and businesses can dispose of carpet at no cost to them, since the carpet producers pick up the tab for disposal. The local transfer station will also soon collect paint for free.
"Sometimes, there are people who simply excel well beyond what could ever be expected or even conceived of, and Kevin Hendrick's contributions to the EPR movement are extraordinary," said Heidi Sanborn, executive director of CPSC.
Hendrick was a founding CPSC board member, serving as vice-chairman for four years and chairman for two more.
"Product stewardship will reduce government's role and expense in the management of products that are hazardous or hard to manage. Producer run and funded recycling services will be operated through an efficiently run program managed by the private sector," said Hendrick in the CPSC statement.
The CPSC decided to give Hendrick the Super Hero Award well before the Authority Board asked him to retire or be fired in late July, but coincidentally he received the award in mid-August, less than a month after he retired from his post as director.
Hendrick received a standing ovation from more than 500 people in attendance, according to CPSC staff.
"I couldn't help but note how much I appreciated their support and recognition and I told them that I didn't get that as much back where I worked," Hendrick said by phone on Monday.
Rich Enea, chairman of the Del Norte Solid Waste Authority Board and mayor of Crescent City, said there are no hard feelings toward Hendrick and he is not a suspect in the investigation of $29,000 that went missing while Hendrick was director. But since it happened while he was director, it was his responsibility, Enea said. The case is still under investigation.
Asked whether or not the choice to force Hendrick out as director was political, Enea said: "If it wasn't for that missing money, I would've left it at the status quo."
Enea acknowledged that Hendrick did a good job on solid waste issues, but not so much with finance, which is still part of the job.
"He wants to do consulting work and I don't think he'll have any problem with that at all," Enea said. "As a consultant he won't have anything to do with finance."
Hendrick said he is working on several leads in zero waste programs and how to structure contracts to maximum recycling.
"Kevin Hendrick is a great mind in our industry, a great leader in zero waste, and most importantly, a great person with the highest integrity," said CPSC Executive Director Sanborn in the statement.
Hendrick was also recognized recently for 20 years of participation and being an active founding member of the Rural Counties Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority.
He was the last founding charter member still on the board, a post he could no longer hold after retiring as director.
Reach Adam Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.