North Carolina Solid Waste Enforcement 
Officers Association

The Mike Stilwell Award for Enforcement Officer of the Year 

Mike Stilwell was a member of NCSWEOA’s Executive Committee and served as a code enforcement officer for Mecklenburg County for over a decade. Mike is remembered for providing outstanding service to his community and for his ability to achieve voluntary compliance. He was a model public servant who had the abilities and expertise to navigate complex compliance issues with tact and good humor. In an effort to acknowledge Mike’s contributions to public service we present the Stilwell Enforcement Officer of the Year Award on an annual basis to recognize those NCSWEOA members who exemplify the traits, skills, and knowledge that were demonstrated by Mr. Stilwell.

Eligibility for Nomination:

      • Any individual who has responsibilities for responding to solid waste complaints and/or enforcement of solid waste rules, ordinances, or laws.
      • Current employee of a local, state, or federal government working in North Carolina.
      • Job classification may include part-time involvement in solid waste enforcement activities and not necessarily the primary function of the nominees' work requirement. 

Nomination Criteria:

      • Attach letter of recommendation stating why the nominee is deserving of this recognition.
      • Detail how the nominee has “made a difference.” 
      • Include specific accomplishments, innovative approaches to enforcement, involvement in organizations, community interaction, or assistance to other agencies or entities.

Application Submission:

      • 2024 Application will be posted when nominations open. 
      • Provide a letter of recommendation.
      • Submissions should be emailed to NCSWEOA President, Caleb Sinclair at

Review and Award Process:

      • Applications will be reviewed and winner selected by the NCSWEOA Executive Committee.
      • The recipient will be recognized at the NCSWEOA fall conference. 
      • The award winner will receive a free registration to the next NCSWEOA fall conference.

2023 Award Winner Lorelei Elkins Guilford County

Lorelei Elkins serves as the Community Environmental Program Specialist and Environmental Enforcement Officer for Guilford County.   Lorelei serves her jurisdiction through the  development of recycling and waste reduction strategies, by facilitating education initiatives, and provides enforcement of  the county's solid waste ordinance. Prior to working with Guilford County, Lorelei was the Program Coordinator for the multi-county Triad Air Awareness program for the Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection which provides air quality outreach and education programs for students, businesses, and residents of the Triad.  Lorelei's dedication to Environmental Education along with her comprehensive approach to environmental codes enforcement are a testament to the virtues of the Stilwell Award of which she is most deserving.  

2022 Award Winner

Charlita Felder

Durham County

In her capacity as the Solid Waste Operations Supervisor for Durham County, Charlita Felder manages solid waste enforcement operations, bringing more than 30 years of enforcement experience to the position.  Prior to joining Durham County, she served the District of Columbia as a Solid Waste Investigator for twenty-nine years. She now manages a crew of six enforcement officers and serves as the county's lead solid waste investigator. Charlita's dedication to public service and commitment to working toward a cleaner and greener community contributes to the betterment of Durham County and serves as a model for solid waste enforcement professionals throughout our state.   

2020 Award Winner

Travis Swain

Davidson County

Travis Swain serves as member of a 3- man enforcement team that handles zoning and solid waste complaints in Davidson County, a position that he's held for 3 years. Travis is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Western Carolina University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He began his enforcement career as a sworn police officer in Cobb County, Georgia where he honed his inves-tigative skills. Travis has a gift for communicating effectively by treating people with dignity and consideration. As a result, he gains the cooperation of many violators. In one landmark case, Travis put together an interdepart-mental investigative team, marshalling the support and assistance of the fire marshal's office and the sheriff's department. This enabled him to  expand his investigation by using their resources to help build a strong case and ultimately force the clean up of this extensive dump site.

2019 Award Winner

Mauro Mele

Pitt County

A relative newcomer to the field, Deputy Mauro Mele was nominated for his work in implementing a countywide public awareness program and his outstanding record of achieving compliance. He enrolled in B.L.E.T. training at the age of 50, and has been a sworn officer for 10 years. In January 2019, Mele took on the environ-mental enforcement officer position with the belief that he could make a difference in his community. During his short tenure, Mele has developed and implemented an online litter complaint system for county citizens. He developed a list of roads and empty lots that were favorite spots for illegal dumpers and focused on those areas and found that the problems quickly disappeared. His superiors say, "Mele is as impressive a human being as he is a public servant!" 

2018 Award Winner

Valerie Proper

City of Concord

2018 Award Winner

Valerie Proper

City of Concord

City of Concord Solid Waste Services Senior Customer Service Specialist Valerie Proper was the 2018 recipient of the Stilwell Award. With 18 years of experience on the job, Valerie serves as the city's first point of contact for solid waste compliance issues. She uses her interpersonal communication skills to achieve voluntary compliance and works cohesively with Code Enforcement Officers as enforcement action is pursued.  She fills in as Compliance Code Inspector as needed, Valerie also supports the enforcement officers by researching case information and maintaining an enforcement case database and providing information about proper disposal and educational materials to the public.

2017 Award Winner

Jeff Blood

Iredell County 

Iredell County Solid Waste Enforcement Officer Jeff Blood was the 2017 recipient of the Stilwell Award. Officer Blood was nominated for his hard work as an enforcement officer. He is able to use education, rather than prosecution, enforce the rules and address violations. He never meets a stranger and can talk to and relate to all socio-economic classes. He can be counted to speak in front of groups and represent the department at community events. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Keep Iredell County Beautiful.

From his nominator: "Blood isn’t afraid of anything and he gets results without making people mad.” 

2016 Award Winner

Duane McGuire

Harnett County 

Our 2016 Stilwell Award recipient is Deputy Duane McGuire, of the Harnett County Sheriff's Office. Deputy McGuire serves as the county's Environmental Officer. He has achieved his success by blending law enforcement training with his knowledge of solid waste. In addition to his successful enforcement program, some of his other accomplishments include the establishment of a remarkable waste diversion program that aids the local food pantry, and an anti-littering campaign that focuses on securing loads as a means of prevention. His supervisor credits Duane with changing public perception of the county through the reduction of illegal dumping and littering. 

2015 Award Wiinner

Kathy McVey

Cumberland County 

Kathy McVey is our 2015 Stilwell Award winner. As the Environmental Enforcement Inspector for Cumberland County, Kathy's background includes both solid waste and law enforcement experience. She investigates complaints and prepares cases for Environmental Court. Kathy also has training in the management of hazardous waste, and operates the county's household hazardous waste facility. She has a reputation for dealing fairly with the public - both complainants and perpetrators, and uses her knowledge and abilities to provide public outreach and education through local events and programs, as well as through her relationship with the local media. 

2014 Award Winner

Jeff Sparrow

Wayne County 

Our first annual Stilwell Award was presented to Jeff Sparrow, Environmental Enforcement Officer for Wayne County. With a background in criminal justice and law enforcement, Jeff took on the task of enforcing the county's solid waste ordinance with what his superiors describe as enthusiasm and dedication. He searched out professional development programs that could expand his knowledge of solid waste laws and issues, and has always made it a point to stay up to date with changing technologies and practices. His department director says that Jeff's communication and organizational skills make him ideal for managing a high volume case load, and for handling recycling, waste diversion, and public outreach programs with equal effectiveness.

NCSWEOA is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. PO Box 134 Terrell, NC 28682-0134

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