Tag Archives: Eileen Toomey

The Best in the Business!

Not much has gone as planned in 2020, but GMWEA’s annual awards stand as an example to the contrary – we were determined to honor those who demonstrated exceptional know-how and commitment in the water, wastewater, and stormwater fields in 2019.  The individuals, facilities, and companies selected are truly “the best in the business.”

In January. GMWEA reached out to solicit nominations in 10 categories.  The Award Committee’s deliberations were not easy, due to the high quality and number of nominees!  Complicating the process was the cancellation of Spring Meeting – where the full ceremony, with speeches, photos, and award presentations ordinarily takes place.

But COVID-19 can’t negate the achievements of our water quality community.  Here are the 2019 award winners, with selected comments from nominators. Our apologies to winners not represented by photos here — blame COVID, and be assured we’ll catch you on at the special awards ceremony on November 4th at the DoubleTree Hotel in Burlington!

Michael J. Garofano Water Operator of the Year: VILAS GENTES, wholesale maintenance technician, Champlain Water District: “Vilas is our go-to person. He plays a key role in planned and unplanned service in fieldwork because he’s seen just about everything in his 30 years of service. He’s a mentor and positive role model for younger members of the team.  It is very obvious how dedicated he is to his profession, and how much pride he has in the work he does.”

Andrew Fish Laboratory Excellence: ENDYNE LABORATORY SERVICES

“[We have] greatly appreciated the customer service Endyne provided to public water systems monitoring for PFAS, required to occur by December 1, 2019.   Water systems had to use labs for PFAS that were not providing any basic customer services.  Endyne stepped into that gap. In addition, Endyne’s willingness to collate the samples and submit PFAS data electronically substantially reduced the amount of time for data input by state admin staff.  Such actions reduced the stress and workload for the public water systems and the State; Endyne is to be commended for . . . so ably dealing with the PFAS situation.” (Above: Endyne staff Claire Monachino, Harry Locker, Eileen Toomey.)

Bob Wood Young Professional Award: CODY GRIMM, water/wastewater operator, Simon Operation Services.

“Cody plays bass in a rock band. He also rocks as a water and wastewater operator. He is both patient and thoughtful with the daily operations of multiple water and wastewater systems, with a methodical approach that has benefited his systems in big-budget areas such as chemical savings and overtime costs. . . . Soon after becoming an operator, he started advocating for young professionals to enter this industry by participating in science tech career panel discussions at his alma mater, the University of Vermont.”    

Stormwater Award: DAVE WHEELER, stormwater project manager, South Burlington

“Dave has worked at our stormwater utility since 2015. During that time, he has overseen the design and construction of numerous large scale stormwater improvement projects. He has played a critical role in the development and implementation of the City’s Flow Restoration Plan, and is currently preparing the City’s Phosphorus Control Plan. Dave has also worked closely with the State to improve the design of stormwater treatment wetlands . . . He has presented on stormwater topics in Vermont and the New England region and is always willing to share the knowledge he’s gained.”

Operator Excellence, Wastewater (Note: Due to the exceptional qualifications of these nominees, GMWEA’s Awards Committee announced two winners!)

PETER LARAMIE, chief operator, Fair Haven WWTF

“Pete is retiring in July, after 35+ years as Fair Haven’s chief operator. . . Often using little besides baled hay string, duct tape, and Yankee ingenuity, he has steadfastly kept our rickety old plant afloat. Over the years, he has completely revamped our treatment process, saving thousands of dollars on electricity and chemical addition.  It’s high time that his efforts, dedication, and service to his community are recognized.”

ROBERT WHEELER, chief operator, Bellows Falls and Saxtons River WWTFs

“Rob has been an operator of both facilities for close to thirty years and has been through four massive upgrades to the Bellows Falls Plant and one at the Saxtons River plant. . . He is fair to everyone around him and betters the job for each of us and no matter how small or how large job is. . . . He has taught me everything I know today from operations, laboratory, out in the field or even learning life changes, like being a better man, father, and friend.”

Facility Excellence, Wastewater: CITY OF NEWPORT WWTF

“Resulting from the hard work of operators Donald (Pedro) Grondin, Tim Dagesse, and Alex Russell, the facility has made many improvements in operations and efficiency. This high energy team is saving their community a lot of money and making huge operational improvements.” (The nominator lists 15 major improvements, some of them implemented entirely in-house by the operators — installing energy-efficient blowers, updating or adding monitoring technology and lab capacity, and improving safety and security programs, and more.)  “This is quite a list of accomplishments for a three-person crew that runs the wastewater facility, several pump stations and the water filter plant!”

Facility Excellence, Water: RANDOLPH CENTER WATER SYSTEM

“The water system is made up of two major entities — Randolph Fire District #1 and Vermont Technical College (VTC).  Each entity owns portions of the system, and for years each has had separate operators, budgets, and long-term plans for repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of the infrastructure.  In order to improve the technical, financial, and managerial capacity of their water system, and continue to offer excellent service, the Fire District and VTC have come together to form a more united water system.  Now they are working diligently as one cohesive group to develop an Asset Management Plan that meets the needs of the water system as a whole, as well as the individual entities.  This has required compromise, a willingness to forge ahead when things get tough, and an all-around great attitude from all involved . . . a grace and excellence that we should all strive to attain.”                                                      

Elizabeth Walker Meritorious Service Award: LIZ ROYER, executive director, Vermont Rural Water Association

“Working 14 years as the source water protection [SWP] specialist for VRWA, Liz has assisted a majority of Vermont’s drinking water systems. Writing and implementing SWP plans throughout the state, she has had an active role in improving Vermont’s water quality. Liz has attended town and local meetings to promote community awareness and has served on numerous committees and boards. She has played an advisory role for both state and federal agencies. . .  Now as the director of VRWA she has brought a bright new energy to the organization. She is currently working to help all Vt. drinking water systems navigate PFAS legislation, working especially hard for the smallest systems . . . Liz exemplifies the best of the water industry!”

GMWEA President’s Award: DANIEL HECHT, executive director, GMWEA

“During my time as President I could consistently count on Daniel to do what was in the best interest of GMWEA. . . He has helped the organization through many difficult situations. Thanks to his leadership and commitment, the organization has undertaken numerous initiatives that were previously beyond our capability. Despite the uncertainty that the coronavirus has caused in the short term, I think GMWEA is on a good path going forward. The benefits of Daniel’s good work will continue to bear fruit and we’re well positioned to grow.”

                                     

Who’s the Best in the Business?

Every year, GMWEA honors operators, facilities, organizations, and companies that have demonstrated exceptional service to Vermont’s water quality industry.  The 2017 awards were presented by outgoing president Rick Kenney at our 2018 Spring Meeting & Conference at the Killington Grand Hotel and Conference Center.

We’d love to publish all the winners’ photos, but due to space limitations, we need to select just a few.  Nevertheless,  congratulations to every one of the awardees, who are truly the best in the business!

  • Michael Garofono Water Operator Excellence: George Donovan, operator, Fair Haven Water Dept. (see photo, right); Mike Barsotti, director of water quality and production, Champlain Water District
  • Operator Excellence, Wastewater: Timothy Kingston, operator, Town of Brandon
  • Facility Excellence Award, Water: Grand Isle Consolidated Water District (SOS)
  • Facility Excellence Award, Wastewater: Town of Richford WWTF
  • Andrew D. Fish Laboratory Excellence Award: Mike Swindell, operator, City of Burlington Main Wastewater Plant
  • Outstanding Industrial Operator Award: Gary Audy, contract chief operator for The Alchemist Brewery, Trapp Lager Brewery, and Swan Valley Cheese (see photo, right) 
  • Bob Wood Young Professional Award: Nick Giannetti, Vermont DEC Wastewater Management Program
  • Stormwater Award (Individual): Annie Costandi, stormwater coordinator, Essex Town (see photo, right)
  • Corporate Sponsor Award: Clean Waters, Inc.
  • Outstanding Industrial Facility Award: Stone Corral Brewery, Richmond
  • Elizabeth A. Walker Meritorious Service Award: Mark Simon, principal, Simon Operation Services (posthumous)(see photo, below)

  • GMWEA President’s Award: Eileen Toomey, customer service specialist, Endyne Labs; Town of Hartford 

Two Vermont facilities and one individual also won U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awards, which were presented by NEWEA’s Ray Vermette:

  • U.S. EPA Operations & Mantenance Award: Town of Milton
  • U.S. EPA Operator of the Year Award: Nate Lavallee, chief operator, Burlington North and East Plants​
  • U.S. EPA Energy Efficiency Award: Village of Essex Junction

Who do you think deserves recognition? GMWEA award winners are considered based on nominations received from our membership!  We invite you to put forward names of colleagues, facilities, or organizations you think have made exceptional contributions to the industry.

To return to the GMWEA website, click here.

Welcome, New GMWEA Board Members!

GMWEA  is governed by a 12-member board of directors, all of whom are association members and water quality professionals; they are elected by the membership at our annual Spring Meeting and Training Conference.

This year, we’re especially pleased to welcome two individuals who will be serving on the board for the first time, even if they’re not new to GMWEA.  We look forward to an exciting year of growth and change with their expertise and enthusiasm helping to guide the association!

Amy Macrellis is a project water quality specialist in the water resources management group at Stone Environmental. Amy started her career in Michigan, turning a love for rock-hounding into a bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences from Albion College, and then a master’s degree in Environmental Geoscience from Michigan State University. Since coming to Vermont in 2000, it’s been all about communities, water, and soil, and she has developed a great respect for our state’s clean water professionals.

Amy now has over a decade of experience supporting Stone’s clients by providing technical leadership and editorial support for stormwater and wastewater management plans and feasibility studies, policy development, and applied water quality research projects. Her recent work focuses on implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in policy and practice for municipalities, stewardship organizations, and state agencies, including VTrans and VTANR.

Amy remains involved in community wastewater planning with an  emphasis on Vermont’s unsewered villages. She still gets her hands dirty some days by completing site, soil, and hydrogeologic evaluations in preparation for design and construction of stormwater BMPs and community wastewater systems.

Amy has been a member of GMWEA’s Government Affairs Committee since  2017. As a new board member, she says she is excited—and humbled—to bring her knowledge and perspectives in service to all of GMWEA’s members during a time of rapidly changing state and federal regulations and policies.

Eileen Toomey began her environmental career in 1990 at Spectrum Laboratory, where she learned basic chemistry and acquired a great interest in wastewater.  In 2000, she began working as lab tech at Morrisville Wastewater Treatment Plant, then served for eight years as operator at the facility, where she learned a great deal about the field.  She is known to many in the water sciences industries in her role as customer support specialist at  Endyne Laboratory Services Labs, which she feels is good preparation for a role on the GMWEA board – she says she looks forward to serving GMWEA’s membership with the same attentiveness.

A mother of two, grandmother of four going on five, a proud seventh-generation Vermont woodchuck, she lives in Morrisville. She has been chair of GMWEA’s Continuing Education Committee since 2017.

To return to GMWEA’s website, click here.