County taps planner to oversee landfill

Patrick Felling stands outside the county landfill in Edinburg on Thursday. Felling, planner for Shenandoah County, has been named as Director of Solid Waste Management for the Shenandoah County Landfill. Felling will assume the new role on Jan. 12, 2015. Rich Cooley/Daily

Shenandoah County officials have filled a long-vacant position to oversee the landfill and waste collection.

Patrick Felling takes over as the director of solid waste Jan. 12, according to information from Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass. Felling works as the planner for the county in the Office of Community Development. Felling will receive an annual salary of $64,478 as the director.

“I’m very excited to take on this new role for the county,” Felling said Thursday. “I’ve worked on environmental regulatory issues in the past, so I bring that experience with me.”

Felling went on a tour of the landfill on Thursday with Operations Manager Brad Dellinger, who had overseen the facility and solid waste management for the county in general since 2005. Dellinger will continue as operations manager at the landfill.

“[I’m] just learning more about what’s to come and I definitely look forward to starting the job in January and hitting the ground running,” Felling said. “Brad’s been trying to hold down two positions for a while and now the two of us get to work on it and get that much more done.”

Felling takes on the role just as the county moves forward on projects aimed at making major improvements to the landfill, including the construction of a new cell slated to begin next year. The project should allow the county to continue to use the landfill through 2046. Additionally, the county needs to install liners to help prevent liquids created by degrading waste from leaking out of the landfill and into the groundwater.

Felling worked in several environmental regulatory and policy positions before joining the county staff, including the Potomac Conservancy and the Hawaii State Department of Health. He holds a masters in public administration and environmental science from Indiana University and a bachelor’s of science degree in geology from Tennessee Technological University.

Brandon Davis, director of the Office of Community Development, said Felling has been an important asset to his department and that he would be missed. Vass said the county intends to fill the planner position.

County Administrator Mary T. Price said Felling’s background in the areas of environment and geology, and his work with the county, led to his selection. Price in October cited increased federal and state regulations for landfills as a reason to revive the director position.

The retirement of a longtime employee freed up a position and some funds the county used to fill the director’s post.

The landfill operates on a $1.8 million budget and provides trash disposal and recycling for the 512-square-mile county including the six towns. The county has 13 compactor sites for rural residents. The landfill employs 17 full-time staff members who work as equipment operators, laborers, drivers, mechanics and administrative support. Employees use more than 40 pieces of vehicles and equipment.

The county has taken steps in recent years to make sure it complies with environmental regulations by installing a system that collects and destroys gas created by the degrading waste, monitoring groundwater quality and collecting wastewater from the site and treating the liquid at the North Fork Wastewater Treatment Plant on Aileen Road.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com