The Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority recently named its administration building in honor of Calhoun County Council Chairman David K. Summers.

Summers chaired the TRSWA since its inception in December 1992 and the landfill’s opening in July 1998 until his resignation from the agency’s board due to health reasons in February 2021.

The board of directors dedicated the building in Jackson, located in Aiken County.

“I am very honored they awarded and named the building for me,” Summers said.

Summers received a plaque that is placed in his honor within the building’s foyer. The building was completed in 2013.

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“David is a true leader, a great leader and, without him, the TRSWA and its landfill would probably never have happened,” said Eric Thompson, former general manager of the TRSWA. “Because of his dedication, he made a tremendous contribution to the Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority and the nine counties that it serves.”

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Summers represented Calhoun County as part of the TRSWA. The authority also consists of Orangeburg, Bamberg, Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda.

Summers was one of the agency’s longest-serving founding board members.

Summers reflected on how he became a board member.

“I walked in the back door of the conference center and they were all sitting there but me,” he said. “Monroe Neese from Edgefield County said, ‘What are you doing in here? You are late. Come in here. You have been elected chairman.'”

Summers said he thought the meeting was to start at 4:30 p.m. and not 4 p.m.

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Summers, a frequent advocate of the private sector, has often praised the TRSWA as a prime example of a government success story. The landfill is among the largest permitted in the nation.

Summers said the TRSWA has been a great success.

“We got a place to go with our garbage over the next 100 years, which is important that you have somewhere to take it,” he said. “We were very fortunate to get that piece of land. It has turned out to be real good. We have had good leadership over there.”

Summers said counties could not have done it flying solo. The landfill has served as the counties’ alternative to private disposal or constructing a $7 million landfill on their own.

“It would have cost a lot more to get a private outfit,” Summers said. “We still have to pay for it, but it is not like it would have been with a private company. We have been fortunate there.”

“David was a solid person that we needed at the time to keep the nine counties together along with the Department of Energy and DHEC,” Thompson said. “He was the glue that held everything together.”

Thompson said Summers provided a “very calm” and “meaningful” contribution to the life of the TRSWA as chair, noting concerns among smaller counties of the TRSWA that their voices would be minimized.

“That never happened,” Thompson said. “It was really because of David and the way he handled the meetings.” $4.99 for the first month

Thompson recalled how he picked up Summers in his private plane before their meeting with Dr. Mario Fiori, former Savannah River Site manager and United States assistant secretary of the Army.

“I kept telling him don’t call this a garbage dump but a state-of-the-art landfill,” Thompson said.

Summers recalled how he and his family were at the beach when he was picked up, and how Thompson had instructed him to sell their idea.

“I said, ‘Dr. Fiori, we have nine counties that would like to build a state-of-the-art, Subtitle D landfill on your property,'” Summers said. “He said, ‘in other words you want to build a garbage dump.’ I knew then that he and I would get along just fine.”

“David has a good sense of humor,” Thompson said. “His sense of humor really pulled a lot of irons out of the fire for us.”

Thompson also cited Summers’ dedication in traveling all the way from Cameron to Aiken for latenight meetings for years.

“That takes a lot of commitment to sacrifice your time from your family,” Thompson said.

Today, the site consists of a 1,100-acre remote tract with about 300 acres being used to bury solid waste.

TRSWA was formed when six counties asked the regional Lower Savannah Council of Governments for help in designing a Subtitle D landfill in an effort to address solid-waste demands.

In examining the most economical means of complying with the Solid Waste Act of 1991 and the requirement for a costly Subtitle D landfill, nine counties formed the consortium.

From the very beginning, Three Rivers attracted a great deal of attention, including receiving the state’s Palmetto Partnership Certificate of Excellence.

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