With computer technology on the fast track, Jerry Hubbard, former director of Fairfax County's Division of Solid Waste Collection and Recycling, saw too many old computers in the trash. He combined the forces of the Fairfax County and Service Source, an Alexandria company that employs mentally challenged adults, to make the computers useful again instead of clogging the landfills.
"My division provided that service," Hubbard said. "We established a partnership with an agency called Service Source, and we collected electronics from the community.
Recently, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recognized Hubbard for his efforts and, on Hubbard's retirement, awarded him for taking the extra step.
"Hubbard initiated innovative, award-winning programs that include the Electronics Recycling Program, resulting in 350 tons of electronics being kept out of the waste-to-energy facility," reported a county press release.
Hubbard looked at the recycling, landfill effect and challenged-adult participation as a positive aspect.
"It's a win-win," he said.
Hubbard's 13-year county career started with the Fairfax County Park Authority and then moved over to the Division of Solid Waste Collection and Recycling. Day after day, he would see outdated computers in the trash. Computers and other electronic products contain trace amounts of mercury, a hazardous material, so they can't be put in the regular landfill.
"New ones were coming out so fast, we had to do something about it," he said.
Hubbard's own computers went through the upgrade cycle.
"They've become obsolete so quickly, I've had two or three in the last few years. They keep upgrading," he said.
Fellow employee Pamela Gratton helped out with the project.
"It's really important in our community as a pollution control thing. It has a direct positive impact on Fairfax County. He [Hubbard] was very good at being able to communicate that to the group," Gratton said.
One part of Hubbard's effort was customer service, Gratton said. He was good at maintaining the schedules despite obstacles.
"Everybody takes the trash person for granted until they don't show up. Jerry was very focused," Gratton said.
Hubbard's efforts caught the attention of the Board of Supervisors, and it recognized him at its Jan. 26 meeting.
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) nominated Hubbard for the Board recognition.
"He's been a very good manager in a division that sometimes gets a lot of complaints," Hudgins said.
County public affairs spokesperson Bill Miller said the Board of Supervisors frequently recognizes employees upon retirement.
"He was being recognized for his contribution to the county," said .
Once the recycling efforts were up and running, Hubbard got involved in computer recycling in other ways as well. One way was the Recycling Roadshow with an environmental group at Herndon High School.
"It's an environmental club. We've done major events at Herndon High School including [the collection of] eyeglasses, bicycles, televisions," Hubbard said. "That's been very successful."
Hudgins looked at the recycled computers usefullness.
"It became a good resource other than sitting in the land fills," she said.
AFTER A 30-YEAR CAREER in the Army — in which Hubbard served in Vietnam; France; Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and at Fort Belvoir — he retired as a colonel. Then he joined Fairfax County, first at the park service and then Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. His children attended Fairfax County Public Schools, and his daughter graduated from Robinson Secondary School. He is now a resident of Burke Centre. Hubbard's daughter lives in Springfield, one son lives in Woodbridge, and another son lives in Indianapolis, Ind.