FORT HOOD, Texas (KXAN) - Going green on one of the world's largest Army posts has been quite a feat. For one former Fort Hood soldier, it has been nearly a 20-year process -- recently resulting in almost 10,000 tons of trash.
"A dirty job?" laughed Jaycee Turnquist, the base's recycle operations manager, as he walked across a lot full of noisy trash-hauling trucks. "No, I have a clean job."
Turnquist is cleaning up a problem he first noticed 18 years ago when he left his life as an Army Command Sergeant Major for his current military mission at Fort Hood.
"When I decided to retire, they said, ‘What do you want to do?'" he explained. "I said, 'I don't know.' They said, ‘Well, go meet this guy.'"
That meeting eventually evolved into his job as the base's recycle operations manager. He now handles more than 40 workers, most of them veterans themselves.
His center -- the Army's largest -- has grown into a $1.3 million operation.
"The more we can educate people about what we're doing, the less material that's going to go into the landfill," he said.
With so many recyclables, it makes more than enough to stay open on its own and give back to the base.
"Some of the things we do around here help the community quite a bit," said Ellis Robinson, machine operator.
Turnquist has taken some big steps since starting in 1994 when the center processed 1,100 tons of recyclables. This year, they will process 10,000 tons. By 2020, the goal increases to 15,000 tons.
To get to that point, Turnquist had to be very strict with enforcement.
"If you're not doing it right, we're going to take pictures," he said. "Then the guy says, ‘I've heard all about the pictures already.You ain't taking any pictures of us. We're going to make this right.'"
But his green goal will soon go to someone else. By April, he will move from recycling to retirement.
"Yeah, I'll sneak around the corner every now and then, take a peek, and look to see what's going on," Turnquist said, chuckling.
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