Published in The Daily Citizen on October 27, 2016:
Dirk Verhoeff says becoming director of the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority has been "a professional and personal goal of mine" for several years.
Verhoeff has worked for the authority for nine years as environmental manager and project manager and has been interim director since shortly after director Norman Barashick announced his retirement after more than 20 years with the authority in May. And earlier this month, the authority's board named Verhoeff the sole finalist to be the authority's next director.
Authority employees are legally employees of the city of Dalton. Dalton Human Resources Director Greg Batts said Verhoeff's salary has not been finalized. He said ads for the job did not specify a salary but Barashick was earning about $90,000 a year.
"It was an easy choice," said Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb, who is on the authority board. "Dirk has regularly reported to us during our meetings, and he came highly recommended by Norman. We felt that we had a good employee who had been there for several years and had taken on increasing responsibility during that time, and we thought that we need to encourage and reward that sort of employee."
Verhoeff has a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
"As environmental manager, I've been responsible for all the regulatory compliance and reporting that goes along with operating a solid waste facility," he said. "We have permits with the state and the feds. There's a lot of monitoring and reporting that goes along with that."
"And on the project management side, when I started, they had just started the landfill natural gas collection system, so I have managed that from day one," he said.
As director, he will be responsible for the budget and financial side as well.
The authority has an annual budget of about $5 million.
"We are an enterprise fund, so all of our revenues come from the customers who use our services," he said.
The authority has 36 full-time employees and three part-time employees. It operates the landfill on the south end of the county and convenience centers on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Dalton, McGaughey Chapel Road in Cohutta and Miracle Drive in Westside. It also oversees and monitors the closed landfill in Westside.
Verhoeff says he doesn't foresee any major changes at the authority.
"We've got staff who have been here 20, 25 years. Everything runs very well, so I don't see any need for change, at least not right now," he said.
"I'm rooted in the community. My wife is a Dalton native. We have two children, and I'm really excited about this opportunity," he said.