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President's Message (C Factor)

Your Region Still Needs You!
By Mike Darrow
Posted on 9/30/2019 7:38 AM


I had the recent opportunity to be involved in the FWPCOA annual awards luncheon at the August fall short school in Fort Pierce. The association gets the opportunity to recognize some of you for your outstanding performance and service to your community and the association, and excellence in your chosen discipline. It was great seeing you all there.




Each year, FWPOCA presents many awards to honor those in our industry. Some of the awards given at the annual awards luncheon this year are:

  • The Dr. A.P. Black Award is given to a professional outstanding member for excellence as a water treatment plant operator, wastewater treatment plant operator, or reclaimed water operator.
  • The Raymond Border Award is given to a professional outstanding member for excellence as a water distribution system operator or wastewater collection system operator.
  • The Nathan Pope Award is given to a professional outstanding member for excellence as a stormwater operator.
  • The Robert Heiman award of excellence is given out to a professional outstanding member for excellence as an industrial pretreatment coordinator and in service to the community.
  • The Joseph V. Towry Award is given to a professional outstanding member for dedicated service in water reclamation and reuse.
  • The Outstanding Community Website Award is given to a utility that has an exceptional customer information and public outreach on its website.
  • The Outstanding Safety Award is given to a utility with an excellent safety record and performance that offers operator and technician training in all areas of safety. This is given for all different types and sizes of facilities across our state.


My congratulations go out to all of you who received an award and were recognized at the ceremony. See our website at for a complete list of current and past award recipients at the awards tab.


I’m so glad to be a part of giving recognition to those who truly go beyond their daily tasks to give exceptional service to their community, the association, and our profession.


Next time, make sure you submit the applications for the next annual awards ceremony, and be sure to recognize outstanding members you know of from your region or facility!


A special recognition goes out to Katherine Kinloch, a wastewater treatment operator in Region X, who received this year’s A.P Black Award for her hard work and many years of dictated service to her community, our profession, and the association!  She is one hard working volunteer--thank you, Katie!


Volunteering: Good for Everyone!


Volunteering—as you know—is a worthy cause and is highly respected by us all. The association needs your assistance and guidance in your local area. The last two letters of FWPCOA stand for “operators association.” We’re a unique organization divided into 13 regions around the wonderful state of Florida. I’ve been a member of Region X for a lot of years now and I always enjoy hearing about what’s going on in our industry and how the association can make a better future for our members and our skilled craft. It’s gratifying to know that FWPCOA is still growing in membership and is now up to 5400 members statewide. Thanks to everyone who made this happen!


 I attended meetings again this year in both Region X and Region XII and attendance has been up this year for most of our meetings! These two were very informative and I learned quite a few things at each of them. The presentations from the regional sponsors were excellent and introduced us to new ideas and processes. Many thanks to vendors and companies that were willing to take their time to past along their expertise! 


With that said, your region still needs your ideas, skills, help, and professionalism in the discipline that you work in, whether you’re just starting out on your career path or are a seasoned veteran.  And don’t forget, when you attend your local regional meeting, make sure you get your membership pin. Your membership card is available on our website in your profile for convenient printing.


Get Involved


When most regions meet, the attendees discuss current issues relevant to our trade to help train operators, technicians, and coordinators as they advance in their careers. At the regional level, industry professionals and vendors get together to share ideas and network to help advance their own education and help their workplaces be more efficient, professional, and effective. 


We need to be better at passing the torch onto others about what we’ve learned in our industry. This is something that you can participate in. Attending a local meeting is a good start. At the meeting you can share your thoughts on:

  • What types and disciplines should be taught locally? You can then participate to find resources to put the classes on. This will help strengthen our skills and the tools of our trade.
  • What kind of continuing education unit (CEU) courses would be helpful to the regional membership? Some regions have opening for officers and trustees right now, so you can plug in, participate, and determine the courses needed.
  • What’s the next direction of our role in the industry? What improvements and skills need for our profession?


Our goal at FWPCOA is to protect the public health and the environment of our great state; to work on behalf of operators of all types, technicians, coordinators, mechanics, and those in other disciplines by training them and making the work tasks more professional and represent operators as a whole to the state. I ask you to please bring these types of ideas to the meetings in your area to share.


Another observation: I still see that regions are in need of trainers or instructors to help teach at classes locally or at short schools, and one day, at CEU classes. Your profession is in need of teachers for voluntary certification classes, like industrial pretreatment, stormwater, wastewater collection, water distribution, water reclamation distribution, utilities maintenance, customer service, and treatment operations. If you are interested, it could really make a different to a person who is getting started in our profession.


If interested, fill out the instructor biographical form available on our website and send it to the training office at to get started. Each member has a login for our website; if you need help with your password, contact our webmaster, Walt Smyser, at


Increase Your Professional and Social Circles


The regional level is also a great place where you can also socialize and network. Maybe this is what you like to do—then you can get involved here, too. The regions set up social and fun events, like fishing tournaments, golf outings, family picnics, baseball games, and Christmas parties! Most of the training put on throughout the year by the regions help pay for the social events in that region. We have a lot in common, so why not get together to share your thoughts on our profession and also have some fun!   


See you in the field or at a meeting, and Fish On!