In 1988, John Phetteplace was working in Town Hall as a planning intern when he applied for the assistant planner job. He didn’t get it. But the next day, then First Selectman Nick Kepple hired him as the town’s first recycling coordinator. “But I knew nothing about the job,” Phetteplace recalled Wednesday while talking in the basement conference room of Town Hall.

But he learned quickly. Over the next 34 years, Phetteplace became one of Connecticut’s leaders in the solid waste field, implementing innovative programs in Stonington and helping other communities do the same. For the past two decades, he has been the chairman of the 12-town Southeastern Connecticut Regional Resource Recovery Authority, or SCRRRA, a regional trash cooperative.

On Monday, the 67-year-old Hadlyme resident, who is married and has two grown children, will retire with his assistant, Jill Senior, taking over. “I’m ready. I want to do something else. I have a lot of things I want to do. I want to spend time doing some fun things,” he said. “It will be nice to get up, put on the TV and drink some coffee instead of guzzling it down.”

First Selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough praised Phetteplace on Wednesday as “just an amazing person.” “The work John has done for our community over the past three decades has been nothing short of remarkable. He is humble, thoughtful and innovative. His work on issues related to sustainable solid waste management have enabled our community to be a leader within the state,” she said. “He will be missed, but the amazing team he leaves in place, both at the transfer station and Town Hall, will be able to continue his tradition of excellence. It has personally been a privilege to work alongside and learn from John over the years, and I know he will continue to inspire more great work in our community.”

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Author: Joe Wojtas, The Day, Yahoo! Finance