Harvey County Solid Waste Superintendent Rollin Schmidt is the epitome of a public servant and was honored as part of National Public Service Recognition week, May 5-11. While his work may be unheralded and unnoticed at times, the community impact is nonetheless realized. For Schmidt, that was enough to keep him going after former Noxious Weed Director Roy Patton got his foot in the door three decades ago.
“Back when he hired me, I was a farm kid; I’d run a dairy farm so I had the work ethic and all that, but he took a shot,” Schmidt said. “I soon learned that there was more to this than just spraying ditches and stuff. The public saw what I did and there were always those who appreciated the work we did to help, and I guess that kind of got in my blood then. It was my way of giving service.”
Schmidt has spent 35 years in public service with the Noxious Weed and Solid Waste departments of Harvey and Marion counties. That service will soon be coming to an end as Schmidt has announced his retirement as of July 1.
Most recently, Schmidt has served Harvey County as Solid Waste superintendent for the past four years, overseeing trash collection, recycling composting and major projects handled by the department, such as the landfill expansion being discussed.
Like with any job, there are the standard complaints, but those who truly see the work of the Solid Waste Department and how Schmidt and his employees help county residents is something that has kept him dedicated to work in the public sector — as opposed to remaining a “farm boy.”
“There were jobs that paid better, but there was something about doing the public service that suited me, so I stayed with it,” Schmidt said. “Going to work every day wasn’t tough. There were always these challenges — I’ve always liked a challenge — and there was always those things I wanted to get accomplished, get it done. It just kept going from there. When you enjoy what you do, it helps tremendously.”
Stepping away, he looks forward to time to relax, time with his wife and more time to pursue his passion for music. He performs regularly with three bands.
“When I came here, I thought, ‘I’ll do five years at least.’ I had people tell me, ‘You’ll know when it’s time,’ and I just kind of knew now’s the time,” Schmidt said. “Now I don’t have to worry when I have a gig in the middle of the week how tired I’ll be the next day.”