Fechter is a 'shining star' when it comes to solid waste

January 19, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Donna Fechter still remembers a song that a priest taught her 40 years ago at her Queens, N.Y. Catholic school called, "God Bless the Garbage Man."

It goes like this: God Bless the garbage man. He is so nice and clean. He's always picking up our stuff, but he is never seen.

If that priest could see her now, he'd probably be proud. This is the second time in five years that Fechter, Danville-Boyle County Solid Waste Coordinator, has been named a solid waste shining star by the Kentucky Environmental Protection Cabinet.

The award is given for overall excellence in disposal, recycling, cleanup and education. Fechter does it all here, and a member of the cabinet came to a recent Boyle Fiscal Court meeting to tell the magistrates how impressed the state is by Fechter's performance.


Fechter shies away from talk about her own accomplishments, instead giving credit to Judge-Executive Tony Wilder, the magistrates and Danville City Commission and the people.

"I can't do a single thing without (them)", she said. "Everyone here wants a clean community and trash is an enemy for everyone. I've had an easy time of it."

In the past eight years she has won at least one award for her work in this community. Since she started as solid waste coordinator recycling collection has gone from 410 tons a year to 680 tons in 2003. There were 200,000 customers served by the county's five convenience centers, and she has organized numerous cleanups of illegal dumps and roadsides.

She prepares all the solid waste reports, educates the students and adults about solid waste, explains new legislation and coordinates a state grant program.

If that wasn't enough, she is also treasurer of the Solid Waste Coordinators of Kentucky and is on the Bluegrass Area Development District's environmental protection committee.

Solid waste has changed a lot since Fechter first learned her song. Then garbage was a dirty word, and the priest felt that the garbage man provided an invaluable service to the community. Fechter now lives that thought.

"There I was sitting at the table with 10 other kids, our grape juice and cookies, and we used to sing it," she said. "Where does our life take us? Here I am ... from New York City to Danville overseeing solid waste in the community."

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