Roarke Holzschuh named August 2009 employee of the month by Missouri Department of Natural Resources

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-280 For Immediate Release: Aug. 26, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. --- Recognized for his commitment and leadership in conducting the ongoing School Lab Chemical Cleanout Project, Roarke Holzschuh has been named August 2009 Employee of the Month by the Department of Natural Resources. Holzschuh is an environmental specialist and on-scene coordinator for the Environmental Emergency Response Section. He works out of the Kansas City Regional Office, Field Services Division. Funding for the chemical cleanup project came from a partnership between the Department and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In nominating Holzschuh, Alan Reinkemeyer, director of the Department's Environmental Services Program, and Brian Allen, chief of the EER section, cited Holzschuh's personal initiative and dedication to the project. "Roarke has needed little direction to make it a success," said Reinkemeyer. "He has never asked for anything in return, but has instead focused on the impact this project has to make Missouri's schools much safer."

The state agency partnership funded the 2008 project, a one-time removal of dangerous, unwanted or expired chemicals from school science labs. Two hundred and twenty-six K-12 schools applied for cleanup funds. The program is ongoing, but so far, 23,917 pounds of liquids, 2,226 pounds of solid material, 1,035 pounds of mercury, 21 pounds of aerosols, 48 pounds of metal powders and 2,084 pounds of other material have been removed from the schools for proper disposal.

"The average cleanup cost per school has been $1,660.95, which is much below the market rate and provides significant savings to Missouri taxpayers, should each school have attempted this on their own," said Allen. 

Input from the Department's Environmental Services, Solid Waste Management and Hazardous Waste programs helped make the project happen. Holzschuh, who already served on a statewide Safe Schools Workgroup with Dr. Russ Thompson of the Center for Safe Schools, was selected as the Department's project coordinator. The work group first helped create a science safety CD for schools that volunteered to participate. Funding for the CD was acquired through insurance sources and the Department's Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority.

Holzschuh then coordinated with the Office of Administration and disposal contractors -- who were invited to bid on statewide or regional disposal -- to assist schools with the removal of chemicals. He also helped prepare news releases, gave presentations and generated progress reports for the state legislature, public safety officials and others.

Holzschuh has given presentations to the Governor's Homeland Security Advisory Council and will be a guest speaker at this year's State Emergency Management Conference in Branson. He has worked for the Department since January 1995 and lives in Kansas City.

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Editor:  Photo is available at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/newsrel/images/holzschuh-EOM.jpg.