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IRC hires new director

The image was disturbing enough that it derailed Raymond Shroyer’s career.

It was a garbage train — 100 or more hopper cars full of nasty refuse headed for a landfill — and it led the CSX conductor and native of Somerset County to throw away his railroading career for one in recycling, starting a year and a half ago as coordinator for that county’s recycling program.

Shroyer was hired on Tuesday as executive director of the Intermunicipal Relations Committee, the organization that oversees recycling operations in Altoona, Logan Township and Hollidaysburg.

“It looks horrible, smells horrible,” Shroyer said of the train while standing Tuesday outside the IRC’s meeting room in City Hall.

Those hoppers contained, he realized, lots of material that didn’t need to be thrown away — material that could be reprocessed and reused.

“There has to be something better,” he thought at the time.

And he wanted to be part of that something better.

The IRC board chose Shroyer to replace John Frederick — who resigned in March to take a job with Antis Township — from among five applicants, three of whom were interviewed by Logan Township Manager Tim Brown and Hollidaysburg Manager Jim Gehret.

Shroyer was the most qualified, Brown said.

As Somerset County’s recycling coordinator, Shroyer was familiar with recycling-related grants and regulations administered by the state Department of Environ­mental Protection, Gehret said.

“His learning curve will be less than those of any other candidates,” Gehret said.

He’ll earn $45,000, with performance incentives that could add $2,500 over the first three months, officials said.

His main goal at first will be to increase the tonnage of recyclables collected here, according to Shroyer, who said he was a recycling proponent before the sight of the garbage train galvanized him to make it a career.

Frederick has been long disappointed in the performance of the IRC’s curbside program, which is in the bottom 20 percent for communities in the state — although its periodic brush, hazardous waste and electronics collections are strong, according to Frederick.

There was an 80 percent increase in residential tonnage during Shroyer’s first year in Somerset County, Shroyer said.

He hopes to boost tonnage here through education — getting out and talking to people, seeing what they want and need, he said.

His main argument will be that recycling can contribute to a better life “for our kids” by conserving virgin resources, said Shroyer, 36, who grew up in rural Berlin, Somerset County, in a family that valued reusing things.

Shroyer should be able to marry the best parts of the Somerset County “culture” he left behind with the best parts of the IRC’s, said board member Jim Patterson.

The board also secured continued help with transitioning to new leadership from former education and enforcement coordinator Katrina Pope, who recently took a job with Hollidaysburg Borough, allowing her will work up to 25 hours a week staffing the Duncansville compost facility and assisting with finances — work that won’t conflict with her borough duties.

Her responsibilities will wax and wane depending on IRC activities, officials said.

The IRC is looking toward replacing Pope permanently but wants to determine whether and how to modify the position based on what Shroyer turns out to be comfortable handling, officials said.

The board envisions Shroyer as a participant in choosing a successor for Pope, officials said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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