The Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers

Just who are those rowdies sitting at the back of the room, heckling the Association President during his speech? Odds are, they are the distinguished members of the Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers, or the 5-S’ers.

But just who, or what, is the Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers? There are no real rules. It is not possible to “join” the Society. Election is by vote of members present at a called meeting and must be unanimous by those present at the meeting. There are no dues, committees, or reports. The only officer is the “Influent Integrator” (known as pH 7). His/her duties are to preside at meetings, maintain records, arrange for badges and certificates and manage the induction ceremony.

Although similar groups existed prior, the first 5-S induction ceremony was held in Arizona in October of 1940. The concept is credited to A.W. “Dusty” Miller and F. Carlyle Roberts, Jr., who were seeking to recognize members who do not receive coveted awards or serve as officers, but who contribute outstanding service to the success and progress of their associations.

The emphasis for the Society is on fun. Each inductee receives a badge in the form of a gold tie bar in the shape of a round-nosed shovel. The shovel must be displayed at all official functions of the Society, the Association, or the Federation. The penalty is that the offender must buy drinks for all other shovelers present until the shovel is displayed (borrowing a shovel from another member is strictly prohibited). New members receive the accolade of “elevation on the official shovel to the highest ridge on the sludge bed, with the title of Select Sludge Shoveler and all the honor, atmosphere, perquisites, and dignity pertaining thereto.” (The Society has steadfastly refused to adopt the politically correct term “biosolids,” out of fear that their name would become some variant of _ _ _ BS!)

The appointed station of the Society’s members is at the opposite end of the room from the presiding officer. Somehow that seems appropriate.

Excerpts freely taken and modified from the article “The Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers,” by Steve Modrick included in History of the Iowa Water Pollution Control Association, 1995.

* The 5-S’s are not a committee of IAWEA but a separate organization.

Iowa Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers Membership Roster

June 1986 (Charter Members)

  • Bob Baumann
  • Harry Boren
  • Dick Dague
  • Steve Jones
  • Whitey Mensching
  • Ed Merschman
  • Herb Ohrt
  • Wayne Paulson
  • Harris Seidel
  • Jerry Rattenborg
  • Burt Simms
  • Bob Tonn
  • Steve Modrick

June 1987

  • Gary Elbert

June 1988

  • George Milligan
  • Dave Fox

June 1989

  • Dan Rockwell
  • Jack Clemens

June 1990

  • Steve Gearhart

June 1991

  • Jim Resnick
  • Barbara Schendel

June 1992

  • Don Doonan
  • Mike Fields
  • Vic Gearhart
  • Paul Nolan

June 1993

  • Carol Border
  • Jim Stricker
  • Ted Payseur

June 1994

  • Scott Wienands
  • Jan Anderson

June 1995

  • None

June 1996

  • Jim Utter
  • Steve Hoambrecker

June 1997

  • Glen Petersen
  • John Ringelestein

June 1998

  • Fred Bayer
  • Lynn Pitts
  • John Wood

June 1999

  • None

June 2000

  • Donald Renken
  • James Virelli

June 2001

  • None

August 2002

  • Jay Brady
  • Dan Riney

June 2003

  • Robert Main
  • Jim McFarland

June 2004

  • None

June 2005

  • Gary Schellhorn
  • Charlie Stevens

June 2006

  • Craig Wilson

June 2007

  • Jim McElvogue
  • Charles Pietscher

June 2008

  • Steve Hershner

June 2009

  • None

June 2010

  • Keith Hobson
  • Carla Schumacher

June 2011

  • Sam Kamhawy

June 2012

  • Bruce Jensen
  • Jim Rasmussen
  • Greg Sindt
  • Tim Snyder

June 2013

  • Kevin Moler
  • Hank Pangelina

June 2014

  • Winnie Gleason
  • Tim Wilkey

June 2015

  • Matt Streeter
  • Laurie Twitchell

June 2016

  • Tom Neumann
  • Bob Watson

June 2017

  • Jon Harger
  • Dan Miers
  • Bob Ranson

June 2018

  • Jonathan Brown
  • Kam Reeves

June 2019

  • Tom Atkinson

June 2020

Conference Cancelled

September 2021

  • Eric Evans
  • Jon Koch
  • Mike Tripp
  • Dennis White
  • Matt Wildman

June 2022

  • Darin Jacobs
  • Lyle Krueger
  • Mary McFarland
  • Lauren O’Neil

June 2023

  • Mark Jones
  • Curt Kampman
  • Drew Lammers
  • Melanie McElvogue