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EPA Awards 2 Environmental Merit Awards to Connecticut Recipients

Release Date: 04/22/2014
Contact Information: EPA New England Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass--April 22, 2014) Today, the U.S. EPA recognized one organization and one individual in Connecticut at the 2014 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony. The Connecticut awardees were among 26 recipients across New England honored for contributing to improving New England’s environment.

Each year EPA’s New England office recognizes individuals and groups whose work has protected or improved the region’s environment in distinct ways. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.

“We extend our congratulations and gratitude to this year’s Environmental Merit Award winners, who are helping to ensure a cleaner environment and healthier communities here in New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “In addition to iconic natural beauty and vibrant communities, New England is fortunate to have citizens who care deeply about the environment we share.”

The 2014 Environmental Merit Awards program was dedicated to Ira Leighton, former deputy regional administrator for EPA New England’s office who died in 2013 after 41 years of service to EPA.

“Ira truly loved the Environmental Merit Award ceremonies and deeply appreciated the environmental stewardship and commitment of citizens across New England,” said Spalding.

The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, are awarded 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 presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals. The Environmental Merit Award Winners from Connecticut listed by category are:

Lifetime Achievement

Joan Bothell
New England Lead Coordinating Committee, West Hartford

Joan Bothell has led the New England Lead Coordinating Committee for more than a decade, carrying out complex tasks to educate and spread awareness. Bothell, who works with the Healthy Environments for Children Initiative of the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension Service, was a key part of the regional Don’t Spread Lead Campaign for do-it-yourselfers, which included practices that were adopted nationwide. She developed a booklet, an animated video, facts sheets and a course for non-certified workers that she will market this year. Bothell also is working on a video to train and help various groups throughout New England deal with issues of lead contamination. Her dedication to eliminating lead poisoning and to educating the public has set an example across New England.


New England Lead Coordinating Committee
University of Connecticut

Since it began in 1995, the UConn New England Lead Coordinating Committee has helped states and tribal nations to focus on issues and activities geared to eliminating lead poisoning. The committee develops projects and promotes the exchange of ideas and information throughout the region. Through partnerships, meetings, webinars, a user-friendly website, as well as outreach and technical assistance, the Lead Coordinating Committee helps reduce lead poisoning in New England. A worker’s training course finished in 2013 will help train non-certified renovation personnel to work safely.

Leighton “In Service to States” Award
The Ira Leighton "In Service to States" Environmental Merit Award was initiated by several environmental groups and EPA New England. The groups involved were the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association and the New England state Environmental Commissioners, along with EPA.

The award went to Ken Kimmell, who worked at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection from 2011 to March 2014 and before that as General Counsel at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs from 2007 through 2011. During that time, Kimmell demonstrated a stellar record protecting the environment, proactively addressing climate change, promoting sustainability and innovation, and advancing clean energy technology at the state, regional, and local levels.

Federal Green Challenge:
In addition to the Environmental Merits, EPA New England recognized eight Federal Green Challenge award winners, including one in Connecticut. The Federal Green Challenge is a national EPA initiative that challenges federal agencies to set goals and report on their achievements in the areas of waste, energy, transportation, purchasing, electronics management, and water conservation. The Connecticut winner, in the Lifetime Achievement category, was:

• Charles Vidich, US Postal Service
Windsor, Conn.

Charles Vidich has been a source of dedicated and outstanding environmental work while at the US Postal Service. From the early days of developing the USPS Master Plan, to the climate change and mercury case studies, to supporting EPA’s Waste Wise program, to 2012, when he enrolled thousands of Postal Service facilities from across the country into EPA’s Federal Green Challenge initiative, Mr. Vidich has been a knowledgeable, pro-active and steadfast environmental representative and valued EPA partner. His skill and commitment has raised the level of environmental compliance and promoted sustainability within the US Postal Service.