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Landfill director set to retire

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Max Tackett

By Louie Graves

News-Leader staff

When Max Tackett informed his board of directors at the landfill that he was retiring, he says he was surprised when he suddenly got emotional in the telling.

After more than 10 years as administrator of the Upper Southwest Arkansas Solid Waste District, and a lifetime of other employment, Tackett says this is the first time – since he was a boy – that he was leaving one job and didn’t have another to go to.

That dates back to boyhood days growing up mowing yards, delivering Grit and the Nashville News, and catching chickens and hauling bales of hay, and changing tires.

Before the landfill, he was Howard County Judge for 12 years; before that worked with his father at Tackett Tire, and in several positions with his brothers and others in the trucking business.

Now?

“I love to hunt and fish and play golf and read, but I think I’ll look for some way to do some volunteer work somewhere,” he says.

In a part of the Waste District’s services, residents of nine counties send their debris to be scientifically packed away in craters created out of gypsum quarries. What the counties dispose tells Tackett a lot about what is going on in communities.

He explains: the sight of lots of roofing materials probably means there was a storm. In slower economic times there is less thrown away by households. There have been multi-truckloads from tornadoes and ice storms and floods, and even debris that had to be “landfilled” after the collapse in a poultry feed mill tower. Now the district also deals with proper disposal of e-waste and tires.

He says he got emotional during his retirement announcement because he realized how much he would miss the people he works with. “They’ve taught me a lot.” 

There are 25 full-time employees at the landfill keeping the operation, and he also mentions people in the courthouse from his days in office there.

At the landfill, the trucks roll in, at least 100 a day. The refuse is sorted, hauled to the appropriate landfill section, and is densely packed by heavy equipment rolling on steel wheels.

The landfill was started in the early 1990s, and Tackett is just the second administrator, following the late Joe Ball.

The waste management district is made up of county judges of Howard, Pike, Polk, Montgomery, Sevier, Nevada, Hempstead and Little River counties, and mayors of all of the county seat cities, with the exception of Hope which operates its own landfill.

The district’s headquarters and the landfill are situated between two other giant operations about seven miles north of Nashville. 

On one side there is the Certainteed gypsum wall-

board operation with its quarries, and on the other side is the new Pilgrim’s mill complex which is almost ready.

Tackett has led a busy civic life. He served on the Nashville School board, Henderson State University Alumni board, UA-Cossatot Board of Visitors, and boards of many other organizations and agencies. He’ll join his wife, Deb, in retirement. She was the Nashville Junior High principal. They have two children, daughter Heather Wardel and son Andy, both now residents of Little Rock.

“Moving back to Nashville after college was all I ever wanted to do. I’m so thankful we got to raise our family here.”