Born in 1969

posted 6/26/2019

What does Jennifer Aniston, Apollo 11, and Metro Waste Authority have in common? They were all born in 1969. Milestones tend to make everyone stop and reflect on the past. After all, the significance of celebrating a 50th anniversary is only truly appreciated when you view the context of what led up to it!

Every decade since Metro Waste Authority’s existence, new challenges have been presented and the agency has risen to the task. Although the mindset has always been innovation and creating unique solutions to changing times, the technology and size of our organization has significantly evolved over the last 50 years. 

Computers, drones, and fancy scales: it’s hard to remember a time before this technology was at Metro Waste Authority. But when the agency was first created, none of that was invented. We rented office space from a building down the street, then built a new mixed-use structure for our Central Office in the East Village; smoking was allowed inside the office, and we only operated one landfill. That’s right, we only owned and operated only one facility: Metro Park East outside Mitchellville.

Purchasing land for our initial operation was a struggle. Landfills were a new concept for the population in the 1960’s. Robert Porter, the first executive director, did a lot to quell concerns from our potential new neighbors including flying them up to Minnesota to see a fully functioning sanitary landfill. This trip was meant to show unsanitary conditions and “hordes of dogs” wouldn’t be an issue in this new model (The Daily Dispatch, 1971). 

The origin story is unique, and it shows how far Metro Waste Authority has come. In the 1970’s it was one facility in Mitchellville, now we have five spread throughout Polk County. The agency used to serve 61,000 homes, now we serve 502,000 residents and businesses. As the first Executive Director Robert Porter said, “ agency of this sort is not born of one man’s efforts, but thru the efforts of many” and we look forward to continuing our story (Porter, 1971).