It was following a stint as a part-time seasonal employee of the Solon Service Department over 20 years ago that Dennis Varga became best friends with the backside of a rubbish truck, he said.
“I was a sophomore in high school when I started,” recalled Mr. Varga, a 1998 graduate of Solon High School. “This was going to be a ‘part-time job.’”
The service department back then looked much different than today, Mr. Varga, 40, continued. The year was 1995 and he was picking up garbage on the back step with Bill Drsek, the city’s current public works director, as his driver.
At that time, he began to learn all the ropes, including the department’s in-house recycling collection and sorting, and just about every aspect of the solid waste division. He worked on the early snow plow shift for about seven years, moving from the solid waste to the sewer division, where he started off cleaning catch basins and learning about excavation.
“On the catch basin crew, there is only one real guarantee everyday,” Mr. Varga said. “You are going to get soaked and at some point covered in mud.”
After rising through the ranks, including working at the Water Reclamation Plant when the sanitary division was once housed there, Mr. Varga, a resident of Twinsburg, was recently named Sewer Division manager, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the sewer division, as well as having a hand in the city’s storm and sanitary and grouting contracts. He also assists in the department’s day-to-day operations, making sure it runs as smoothly as possible.
“The service department is known for a tradition of excellence in service, and it is an honor to work with all of these fine people everyday,” Mr. Varga said.
He has experienced challenges throughout the years, he continued, including his time at the waste water treatment plant.
“That was hands down one of the biggest challenges,” Mr. Varga said. “Everyone flushes the toilet and it just goes away, (but) I learned exactly where it goes and how it gets there. The amount of things to learn there is beyond belief.”
Mr. Varga worked on all of the sanitary sewer maintenance, Waste Water Treatment plant operations, lift station maintenance and sewer calls, before being promoted to Solid Waste Division manager in 2016. He served in that role before taking on his new role with the sewer division, making the switch in late August.
Most fulfilling about his new role is passing on the knowledge that has been passed down to him through the years, he said.
“Even though this crew we have is always spot on, trying to help them out in any way I can is a great feeling,” he said.
Mr. Varga said he was fortunate to have begun in Solon when he did as he has learned from the “finest” through the years.
“I look forward to what the future holds for us all,” he said.