Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

December 27, 2013

Hurt unwittingly returns to his roots

Steve Woodhouse

Tracy — When Rick Hurt was hired as the new Executive Director of the South Central Iowa Solid Waste Agency (SCISWA), he didn't realize the move to Marion County would actually be a homecoming. 

Hurt came to Marion County from Gering, Neb., where he served as the City of Gering's Environmental Services Director. His start date was in late October. After spending his initial weeks as a resident of Marion County, living in a camper at Von Donsler's Campground, he and wife, Kristen were able to move in to a home in Knoxville on Dec. 3. 

Hurt was aware that he had family from Milo. Despite that, his mother's birth certificate is registered in Marion County. When he came to town to interview for his new job, he visited the Pleasant Hill Cemetery near Pleasantville, and found the grave of his great-great-grandfather. 

"I guess we come from here, but I don't know a soul," Hurt said. He said Kristen knew he was from the area, but she was not sure of the exact location. 

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Hurt would move from town to town. He said his father liked to move every five years. Hurt was born in Illinois and spent time in Iowa in his younger days. He never thought he would be back here. 

One of his earliest professions was as a roughneck on an oil rig. From there, he began working in the oil-filled trash industry. He started in the trash business on the back of a rear load truck in 1989. 

Over the past 25 years, Hurt has worked for USA Waste, Waste Management and other landfills. He and Kristen have been married for approximately 30 years. They have three children, all out of high school. Much of their immediate family is in Wyoming, Arizona and Colorado. 

While he never thought he'd come back to Iowa, he is glad he has returned. He says that Iowans are nice, and Knoxville has been welcoming. 

"Knoxville seems to be a real nice community," Hurt said. His family ties are close, as he lives a few doors away from his mother's first cousin. He did not remember meeting her before his move to Knoxville. 

As for SCISWA, it is a joint effort of Marion, Monroe, Poweshiek and Lucas Counties. Hurt said he has a good crew to work with and has been working to integrate himself into the landfill's daily operations. Former Director Sara Bixby resigned to take a job with a national waste management organization. Hurt said she left behind some good information for him, but his methods of operating the landfill will probably differ from Bixby's. 

Hurt has been working on a long-term plan for the landfill, which should be able to to continue operations at its current location, outside Tracy, for approximately another 30 years. Businesses such as the landfill need long-range plans to prepare for the future. Hurt said he has no immediate plans for any major changes regarding the landfill at this point. 

The impression Knoxville has made on Hurt is a lasting one, and he plans to be here a while. 

"I think we'll fit in here," Hurt said. "Hopefully, we'll end up retiring here. We'll see how it goes."