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Three Individuals & Two Groups From Rhode Island Receive Environmental Awards

Release Date: 05/17/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017,

For Immediate Release: May 17, 2005; Release #dd050519

(Boston - May 17, 2005) Three Rhode Islanders and two Ocean State groups were honored today in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presented the 2005 Environmental Merit Awards. Recognizing significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, the Rhode Island awardees included two for individual contributions, one for efforts by environmental/ community/ academia/ non-profit organizations, one for local, state or federal government and one lifetime achievement award.

The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew approximately 70 nominations from across New England.

“These awards are among the highest honors EPA can bestow to recognize environmental accomplishments,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “The work of these individuals, organizations and businesses reflect the best attributes of New Englanders, working to find solutions to environmental issues. I offer my gratitude for their extraordinary contributions in protecting the environment.”

The winners from Rhode Island were among 38 from across New England. Awards were given in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA may present lifetime achievement awards for individuals.

Environmental Merit Award Winners from Rhode Island are:
Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award:
Frederick J. Vincent

Frederick J. Vincent has over 30 years of professional and management experience in municipal and state government. He joined the RI Department of Environmental Management in July of 1991 as associate director for policy and administration. Prior to this, he served as deputy director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation from April 1986 to June 1991. Vincent's long career in government service includes deputy chief of staff to former Governor Edward DiPrete, and director of the City Plan Commission in Cranston, RI. During his 14-year tenure at DEM, Vincent twice served as the Department's acting director, most recently from November 2003 until his retirement from public service in April 2005. In his capacity as a senior administrator for the Department, Vincent has overseen a staff of more than 500 employees and the development and coordination of multi-million dollar annual operating budgets and five-year capital budgets. He played a pivotal role in bringing numerous DEM projects and initiatives to fruition, among them Waterplace Park, the Blackstone River Bikeway, and Roger Wheeler State Beach. A tireless advocate for protecting the environment, Vincent has served on numerous state boards and commissions, including the Capital Center Commission's Design Review Committee, RI Historic Preservation Commission, Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission, RI Greenways Council, Transportation Enhancement Committee, and the Transportation Advisory Committee for the RI State Planning Council.

Individual Environmental Merit Award:
Normand Menard

American Red Cross - Providence Metro Division

Although not generally a soldier in the environmental field, Normand Menard and his staff at the Red Cross deserve an award for their work they during a mercury incident in September 2004. During this incidence, vandals took some 20 pounds of elemental mercury from a facility in Pawtucket, spilling half at the facility and half on the grounds of an apartment complex. Dozens of individuals in a variety of organizations completed the clean-up by Christmas. The Red Cross, working under Norman, filled the basic needs of residents from, providing clothing, food and shelter after the initial evacuation. They responded with confidence respect and grace under pressure, according to Robert Vanderslice, Chief of the Office of Environmental Health Risk Assessment in the RI Department of Health. The professionalism of the Red Cross led by Norman, gave emergency response leaders confidence that their decisions on evacuation will not be clouded by concerns about the quality of residents lives if they are forced to leave their homes.

Individual Environmental Merit Award:
V.A. Sridhar

U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Ten years ago, V.A. Sridhar, an environmental engineer with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, was assigned to help clean a landfill at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown, RI. Mr. Sridhar’s expertise guided the project, removing a public health risk. From 1958 to 1973, Middletown operated a landfill on 21 acres bordering a town beach and campground. Soil contaminants were found on this site, which could have qualified as a superfund site, if it were privately owned. Sridhar was charged with investigating the site and designed a clean-up plan that called for recycling household appliances and 200 tires, safe disposal of hazardous waste and consolidating some 60,000 cubic yards of material on site. His respect for wildlife led to a design that let Fish and Wildlife restore 15 acres of native coastal grasslands and 15 acres of salt marsh. Senator Lincoln Chafee, who nominated Sridhar, said he possesses a “wonderful ability to find solutions that achieve the greatest public good. He is a credit to the Service and has made lasting contributions to the recovery of the environment in Rhode Island.”

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
Sally Turner, Director, Groundwork Providence

Sally Turner, director of Groundwork Providence in Providence, RI (along with co-recipient, Mass. resident Gary Kaplan, executive director of JFY NetWorks, Inc. in Boston), oversees EPA grants under the Brownfields Job Training Program. Both programs are outstanding national models of what the program is meant to accomplish. Groundwork Providence has been a model for the Brownfields Job Training Program. The curriculum at Groundwork Providence has been designed with input from local employers, educators, RI DEM staff, and occupational health and safety experts. These efforts at job training let disadvantaged residents of communities participate in revitalizing their neighborhoods. The job opportunities help improve the self esteem of people who have had many obstacles preventing them from developing careers. Although training students is important, generating jobs in the environmental field is key to their successful programs. Both Gary and Sally have succeeded in getting commitments from employers, which contributed to the high placement rate of students. Their success in this endeavor provides an example for other environmental job training providers.

Local, State or Federal Governmental Environmental Merit Award:
RI Dept. of Environmental Management - Smart Growth and Stormwater Programs
Scott Millar and Jim Riordan

Scott Millar and Jim Riordan of the RI Department of Environmental Management have led the way in developing, drafting and producing exceptional guidance manuals that help communities protect natural resources while encouraging smart growth principles. Many cities and towns are struggling to revitalize their urban centers and stem sprawl, while responding to environmental requirements. Managing these sometimes conflicting responsibilities is difficult even for large cities with full-time professional staff, but is almost impossible for smaller towns that rely heavily on citizen volunteers. In response, Scott Millar and Jim Riordan led DEM’s efforts to produce an exceptional series of workbooks, case studies, and other materials to guide developers and local officials on using smart growth principles. They produced the South County Design Manual, the RI Conservation Development Manual, the Urban Environmental Design Manual, and the Rhode Island Stormwater Manual. Each manual highlights sites selected to illustrate specific development issues, such as sub-divisions, brownfields, large-scale facilities, and incorporating new buildings in urban areas.

Related Information:
Environmental Merit

2005 Recipients