Tribal Environment Division employee receives national recognition


AKWESASNE, N.Y. – Solid Waste Disposal employee Russell D. Phillips received an award from the Environmental Industry Association after being nominated for “Driver of the Year.”

Phillips won a national second place award for his service to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal community and to the benefit of the environment.

“This is probably the first award to a Native American and a tribal entity in this category,” said the tribe’s Solid Waste Manager Laura Weber. “You are receiving this award in honor of the work you do here,” she said as she presented him with a plaque, a jacket, a keychain and a satchel July 21 in recognition for his outstanding service.

The award was presented through the EIA’s public sector category. Eligible organizations consist of local, county, city, state or federal government entities or institutions with a solid waste management operation. Criteria for the award were years of driving experience, safety record, completion of a defensive driving course, route duties, number of miles driven and route location. Weber presented the award to Phillips at a regularly scheduled staff meeting of the Environment Division.

“I was wondering why Laura told me to wear my good shirt for the staff meeting,” laughed Russell. “I was completely surprised at receiving this award and appreciate Laura’s efforts in nominating me for it.” Members of the staff congratulated him for his service and the recognition he received.

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has been successfully operating a solid waste management system since 1997. The tribe originally developed its Environment Division in 1982 in response to the pollution discovered on the Massena General Motors Powertrain Plant and the Alcoa Aluminum properties. The Environmental Protection Agency has designated both sites as Superfund cleanup sites.