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When Sheldon Cash first started working for Bedford County as its solid waste coordinator in 1999, he was asked to commit to three years. The “three years” will end this week, 15 years later.
Cash will start work this coming Monday as Roanoke County’s assistant director of general services. This Roanoke County department handles solid waste, county buildings and fleet services.
Cash said this is an upward career move for him. He currently serves as Bedford County’s public works manager and oversees the landfill, 25 solid waste drop-off centers, the county garage, janitorial services and building maintenance.
He’s also caretaker of the county’s old landfill, which closed in 1993. In this role, he monitors ground water around it as well as methane gas the decades worth of garbage entombed in the old landfill emits. He also makes sure water doesn’t pool over the old landfill and makes sure that trees, or other woody stemmed vegetation that has roots that could pierce the old landfill’s plastic cap, aren't growing in it.
Snow removal is another of his staff’s duties. They clear snow from around the 911 dispatch center and the county nursing home and, when needed, provide transportation for nurses to the nursing home if they are snowed in. Cash’s department has some heavy, four-wheel drive vehicles that can be used for that purpose.
“There’s some great people in our departments,” he commented.
Cash, who grew up in the southern part of Augusta County, on the Rockbridge County line, earned a bachelors’ degree in environmental policy and planning and environmental science from Virginia Tech. The Bedford County job was his first job out of college and it fit the bill for what he was looking for — a job in his degree field that was close to home. His new job will also keep him close to his old Augusta County home.
Cash currently supervises 110 employees and, wearing his solid waste hat, oversees the collection of 25,000 tons of garbage from collection centers each year.
“Although they are small in number, they can move mountains, and in the case of solid waste, they can build mountains, too,” he commented.
The achievement he’s most proud of is growing the county’s recycling program, although he notes his staff has been the key to making it happen.
“My staff are committed to recycling,” he said.
This includes some creativity on the part of Vicki Esposito, the county’s recycling coordinator. This year, at Christmas, she created a snowman and reindeer out of recyclable trash. She also creates a Christmas tree, made out of recyclable trash, for the Welcome Center’s Festival of Trees.
Cash added mixed paper and cardboard to the items Bedford County recycles. He’s talked to collection center attendants about encouraging people to put recyclable items into the recycle containers.
He applauds those attendants who are outside in the cold on winter days and, “are out there in the summer with yellow jackets chasing them.”
Cash set up the current recycling facility in 2006 and uses inmates from the Blue Ridge Regional Jail to sort recyclables. The county sells between $300,000 and $500,000 worth of recyclable materials every year.
He’s also proud of his record with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). DEQ inspects the landfill and Cash said Bedford County’s landfill has had an excellent record of inspections during the 15 years he’s been in charge of it.
Cash also mentioned the people he has worked for and especially mentioned Deputy County Administrator Frank Rogers.
“Frank Rogers is a good role model of what a good public servant should be,” Cash said.
Former District Three Supervisor Roger Cheek also got special mention. Cheek served on the board of supervisors solid waste committee for all of his 19 years on the board.
“Supervisor Cheek was a great supervisor to work with,” Cash said. According to Cash, Cheek knew all the landfill staff by name.