By Rose L. Thayer
Fort Hood Herald
This year's Garrison Commander's Barbecue, held Thursday, had one very obvious component missing from the day's event - trash cans.
More than 1,200 people were fed from 65 briskets, 700 chicken quarters and 700 sausage links prepared during the competitive cooking competition and at the end of the day, only two bags of trash went to the landfill.
The Directorate of Public Works was the lead garrison department on planning the event and they seized the opportunity to set the example that Fort Hood's Zero Waste by 2020 goal is possible.
"People say at large events you can't," said Timi Dutchuk, chief of the public works maintenance division and lead on planning. "One of the first steps is changing the culture."
Trash cans were replaced with recycling and compost bins, and educators were at each station to help people to determine the appropriate bin for their waste.
"People were doing it. That was huge success," said Dutchuk. "I was pleasantly surprised by the willingness of the Fort Hood garrison community to have open minds and change their behavior at events like this."
The directorate also introduced new technology purchased by the Defense Department for Fort Hood first - an American- made mechanical digester known as the ORCA Green Machine.
The ORCA can take anything a human might eat and uses water, oxygen and patented biochips to turn it all into gray water, which can be disposed of in the sewer system, said Sherril Harris, a spokesperson for Totally Green, the maker of ORCA. She remained by the machine during the barbecue explaining the technology, alongside Randy Doyle, supervisor for the environmental support team.
"At Fort Hood, we are always very well known for trying new things," said Doyle. "I think what's most important is our leaders were out here endorsing this."
But while the ORCA may have stolen some of the spotlight, the event was really about bringing the garrison community together and creating a little friendly competition.
"This was a huge success for me and what our goal was," said Dutchuk. "We wanted to encourage communication and camaraderie between all the directorates. It happens behind the scenes with the cooks."
Each directorate's cooking team began barbecuing nearly 24 hours before the meal was served, staying out all night to follow secret recipes.
The Directorate of Public Works walked away the best overall trophy in the barbecue competition.
"We worked together as a team," Ricky Kelly, from the directorate's engineer services. "We shared different recipes, skill and talents. That's what (the directorate) is all about."
As things wrapped up, garrison commander Col. Mark Freitag fondly looked back on his barbecue.
"This day's been absolutely superb," he said. "We do this one time a year to support all the people who support this installation and keep it moving forward. They get to let their hair down and enjoy the day."
Contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.