Patience Melnik, executive director of Keep Knoxville Beautiful for the past two years, has been hired by the city of Knoxville to manage its Office of Solid Waste. She replaces Rachel Butzler, who was promoted to deputy director of Public Service.
Melnik wants to expand recycling and improve efficiencies and customer service with residential and downtown trash collection.
A native of California, Melnik moved here when her husband, John Kochendorfer, went to work in Oak Ridge. They have two children. She holds a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College in Sante Fe, N.M.
Melnik takes the helm of a department that has known its share of controversy, although not lately. A previous director, Dr. Peggy Douglas, was fired by the administration of then-Mayor Victor Ashe during a dispute with mulch company owner Tim Burchett. The city then non-renewed Burchett’s contract to dispose of the city’s wood waste.
This writer summed it up by coloring Douglas green while Burchett was red, white and blue. We predicted the next director would be gray. He was so gray that it’s hard to recall his name. Now we’ll see what color Patience Melnik brings to solid waste.