Directorate of Public Works leader named best support executive
April 24, 2009
<b><i>IMCOM recognizes local environmental leader for his accomplishments</i></b>
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - Recently, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) earned several environmental and conservation awards. However, the programs that garnered the recognition didn't happen in a vacuum. In fact, they had to be nurtured like seedlings in a garden.
The gardener is Alvin Char, chief, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works (DPW), who was named DPW Support Executive of the Year at the Headquarters Installation Management Command (IMCOM) DPW Awards Program, April 7.
The IMCOM program recognizes individuals and organizations that demonstrate excellence in management and execution of the Army public works and real property maintenance missions.
As an environmental manager, Char is respected as a leader and professional by his peers, employees and the Army community. He has developed a highly skilled and diverse staff of professional engineers, biologists, archeologists and environmental protection specialists - all with a wide range of experience, skills and abilities - and transformed them into an intensely motivated team focused on the critical task of environmental protection.
"I've worked for Alvin for 13 years, and he expects a lot," said Peter Yuh Jr., DPW conservation branch chief. "He's an exceptional manager in terms of support of his leaders."
Through Char's leadership, USAG-HI's environmental program excels in putting together and using cutting-edge initiatives to operate in the delicate and fragile environment of Hawaii.
Char manages the industrial activities performed by the 25th Infantry Division, to include drinking water, air pollution, wastewater, hazardous waste, pollution prevention, cleanup sites, and more than 165,000 acres containing more than 100 species of endangered plants and animals.
Char has been tending garden at the Environmental Division since 1979.
"I've seen the program grow from a staff of four people to 22 civilian workers and more than 100 contractors," Char said.
The maturation of programs that strive to satisfy both Army and environmental requirements makes Char happy to come to work every day.
"When I began, the environmental program was a training disabler," Char said. "If there were issues with the environment and training ... the environment won. This did not win friends with commanders of units who needed to perform training and certifications."
The current program is a training enabler, which has since grown to a program that mitigates and improves environmental protections without impacting training.
He's made strides through the environmental compliance officer (ECO) program, which requires each unit down to the company level to designate an ECO and alternate ECO. More than 700 ECOs are provided one week of training by DPW each year.
Additionally, Char has been the moving force behind implementing a pollution prevention and recycling program. The "recycling miracle" was started two years ago by creating a recycling program manager position and expanding the current recycling contract.
Recycling operations include a recycling center, a curbside collection program, recycling construction debris, recycling requests over the Intranet, sludge recycling from the Schofield Barracks Wastewater Plant, and aggressive grassroots recycling.
Because the Army owns so much land in Hawaii, the public has heightened interest in what the Army does on that land, Char said.
"The Army recognizes that the cost of doing business is to take care of the land and environment under its responsibility," said Char.
He added that Army Hawaii wants to be a good neighbor and a good steward of the environment.
His programs have significantly reduced costs and improved customer service.
"I don't think people realize how tough his job is," said co-worker Rhonda Suzuki, chief, Environmental Complainace, Pollution, Prevention, Restoration Branch, DPW Environmental Division.
It's a tough balance between military training, building and keeping environmental stewardship, agreed Yuh.
"He has a tough job of balance and see if we 'can do,'" Yuh said. "When environmental concerns block a course of action, such as training, it's (Char's) job to get us to find a way to make it happen. He's a 'can do' man."
Char, an avid outdoorsman, is proud that his work will help preserve and protect the environment for future generations.
"I'm doing what I wanted to do," Char said. "Working for the Army, there is always something new ... there's never a dull moment."
While the award is great, Char said he gets the most satisfaction out of helping the Army accomplish its mission.
"We're here to find a way to help the Army do its job," Char said.