LET'S LOOK AT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT I'VE BEEN INVOLVED
WITH AND SOME OF THE THINGS THAT I'VE ACCOMPLISHED
WHILE SERVICEING ON THE HAMBURG CITY
COUNCIL FROM 2013-2016
Below Is A Partial 'Chronology' Of My Observations And 'Experiences' While I Served As An Elected Hamburg City Council Member. While The Information
Is Correct And Verifiable, There May Be Some Discrepancies Regarding Dates Listed. Information Sources, Paid For With Taxpayer Dollars
Are, Public City Council Meetings Held In Our Public City Hall, Public City Council Agendas And Accompanying Public Information, Public
City Council Meeting Minutes And Public Recordings. My Personal Recollection and Personal Notes Made and Taken Were Also Considered.
One Of My Initial Primary ConcernsEven Before Being Elected To The Hamburg City Council Was That Instead Of Soliciting Completive Bids
From Multiple Contractors To Save Taxpayer Dollars For Electrical Work Done For The City, A SINGLE Electrical Contractor Always
Seemed To Be 'Given The Job' !! Somehow, That Just Didn't Seem 'Right' With Me.
JANUARY: Because he received the most 'write-in' votes, former City Council member Larry Mueller (who received only about 29 votes and would later become one of my most vocal adversaries) was given the opportunity, first, by the Hamburg City Council to fill the remaining City Council seat that remained vacant. But Mueller declined that position. The second vacant City Council seat was then offered, by the Hamburg City Council, to 'write-in runner-up' Robert Gregonis. Receiving only about 24 votes, Gregonis, who has a propensity for being crude, rude and bombastic, accepted the position for the second City Council Vacancy.
City Council Members have designated 'areas of responsibility' for various functions/departments within the city. Those 'designations' are made at the first City Council meeting of the year. I was the City Council Member designated to be 'responsible' for "Streets".
I also learned about the requirement for ALL City Officials to be certified in a FEMA Training Course entitled National Incident Management System; (shortened to the acronym NIMS). I received ALL THREE of my NIMS certifications REQUIRED, within just THREE MONTHS of being elected to the Hamburg City Council.
JANUARY: At the very first City Council meeting that I attended in my 'newfound career', I openly opposed all increases in both property taxes to residents and all wages to City Council members.
FEBRUARY: I arranged for a representative from Floyd Security to make a presentation to the City Council about installing an alarm system in the Sewage Lift Station in Bi-Centennial Park. (Interestingly enough, I appeared before the Hamburg City Council about 25 or 30 YEARS AGO when I owned DELTA SECURITY SYSTEMS and the city was considering 'alarming' the lift station way back them !!)
At our February meeting, I was able to secure installation of the alarm system for a substantially lower price ($600.00) than normally charged. (By comparison, a somewhat similar 'telephone dialer' alarm system proposed for the Water Treatment Plant by a local company was to cost the city IN EXCESS OF $1,500.00 !!!)
MARCH: I successfully passed the required National Incident Management System (NIMS) courses; (Series 100, 200, 700) required of all city employees. It would then be many, many months of many, many excuses why two other Councilmembers hadn't received the required NIMS certification.
EXACT DATE UNKNOWN: Detected a natural gas leak at the Water Treatment Plant on a Saturday, notified Xcel Energy and, so that City Clerk/Treasurer Jeremy Gruenhagen wouldn't have to be away from his family on his day off, I waited at the Water Treatment Plant for about two or three hours for their arrival. When their Serviceman finally did arrive, a serious leak was found; so serious, in fact, that the Xcel Energy Serviceman 'red tagged' the gas service line to the emergency standby generator in the building and turned off ALL gas to the building. All the while, I kept the City Clerk/Treasurer updated as to what was taking place and what the problem at the Water Treatment Plant was determined to be.
For about the NEXT THREE WEEKS as I recall, the City of Hamburg was without ANY form of emergency power for the Water Treatment Plant. In the event of prolonged commercial power outage, once the water tower was drained, the CITY RESIDENTS WOULD HAVE NO WATER and THE FIRE DEPARTMENT WOULD HAVE NO WATER IN ITS FIRE HYDRANTS FOR FIGHTING ANY FIRES THAT MIGHT BREAK OUT !!
Once the defective gas line was replaced, the emergency generator wouldn't start because the battery in the generator was totally 'dead'; and apparently had been 'dead' for some time. I notified the City Clerk/Treasurer and, with his approval, I arranged for the procurement of a new battery, bought battery corrosion sealant for the battery posts (with my own money) and had the new battery installed. I also instituted a regular test schedule for the generator to ensure that it would be operational in the future when needed.
MAY: I was the only City Council member to participate in "CITYWIDE CLEAN UP DAY" with City Clerk/Treasurer Jeremy Gruenhagen.
MAY: I was able to successfully convince the rest of the City Council that signing a Service Agreement with Carver County for it's newly installed fiber optic network was unwise and not in the best interests of the city for a variety of reasons. Specifically, the system had NOT been operational long enough to prove its reliability, Carver County's monthly fee for usage was $75.00/month for Internet access for a download speed of only 20MB yet; was $20.00/month MORE than what the city was already paying for comparable service with Mediacom cable and the initial Carver County contract period was for five years with 'automatic annual renewals', as required by Carver County.
I explained to the other members of the City Council that aligning the city with Carver County simply wasn't a prudent idea and was not realistic because of the constant and fast changing technology we all are experiencing, and not in the best interests of the city.
The City Council voted NOT to sign Carver County's fiber optic agreement.
MAY: Upon approval of the entire City Council, I began to record City Council Meetings and for the City Clerk/Treasurer to make them available to city residents for listening 24/7 by posting them on the 'official' City of Hamburg Website.
AUGUST: Resignation of Public Works employee Dennis Byerly. Hamburg Mayor Richard Malz told me that I was 'getting under his skin'.
AUGUST: Provided sound system and recorded music at 2013 National Night Out.
SEPTEMBER: I was the only City Council Member to take the (required) daily meter readings at the Water Treatment Plant and the Sewage Lift Station in Bi-Centennial Park during the time that the city didn't have a Public Works employee. (Councilmember Trebesch and Mayor Malz showed up in August or September to learn how to take the readings along with me, but, as far as I know, I was the only City Council Member that ever actually took them until a full time Public Works employee was hired in approximately October 2013.)
SEPTEMBER: I researched the possibility of implementing a semi-automated Water/Sewer billing system to reduce the amount of time now spent preparing utility bills and increase accuracy of city water meter reading. I attended a meeting about automated water meter reading and billing with Hamburg City Clerk/Treasurer Jeremy Gruenhagen in Waconia, but nothing was ever done to update the way the City of Hamburg reads its water meters and prepares its utility bills. To the best of my knowledge, while the concept was approved and budgeted $8,000.00 for by the City Council, I don't have knowledge of any new water meters, or other hardware, being installed yet.
SEPTEMBER: I was issued a key to the City Shop by the City Clerk/Treasurer. By having access to the City Shop, I also then has access to all other city keys; keys for both city vehicles and all city buildings; including the Water Treatment Plant and both Sewage Lift Stations. I purposely did NOT request a key to City Hall or to the City Clerk/Treasurer's Office.
OCTOBER: Met with representatives from a local company about installing a monitoring system for the Water Treatment Plant so the city would be notified of a malfunction there rather than finding out about it when 'the city runs out of water'.
OCTOBER: Began preparation of the site at the Sewage Lift Station in Bi-Centennial Park for a new, permanent emergency standby generator would be mounted on a poured cement slab. I was able to save Hamburg taxpayers approximately $8,000.00 from a previous proposal that the city received from another generator company for approximately $31,000.00. Here are some pictures that I took while the area was being prepared and the slab being poured and 'troweled out' by our Public Works employee and the EXCELLENT volunteer services of Kyle Trebesch. Please "Click' on the 'thumbnail' images below to make the pictures larger.
Also, by my arranging for installation of the natural gas line in the fall (rather that during the winter), the city SAVED $ 800.00 !!
NOVEMBER: I oversaw the preliminary design and installation of cement pad on which the new emergency standby generator would be mounted. I also continually updated the status of this project on my OFFICIAL HAMBURG CITY COUNCIL MEMBER Website to keep all Hamburg residents informed of what was taking place. I also made a point of keeping the City Clerk/Treasurer updated and fully informed of what was taking place.
Again, "The SAME information to ALL city residents from a single source!"
NOVEMBER: The Universal Power Supply used in the control panel at the Water Treatment Plant was eight years old. In the event of a power failure, it more than likely would NOT proper supply the power needed by the electrical panel controlling the well's pumps because of the age of the batteries. Manufacturers of Universal Power Supplies recommend the total replacement of the ENTIRE unit every five years. (But, of course, you must understand that they are in the 'business' of selling their product!)
I sought, and received, approval from the City Council to purchase a new U.P.S. with new batteries from Amazon.com. I ordered an adequately sized U.P.S. and charged it to my personal credit card; knowing that I would be reimbursed by the city.
When the new U.P.S. was received, I noticed that some of the L.E.D. segments did not work. I contacted Amazon.com and they stated that they would send me out a replacement unit. I asked Amazon.com about returning the unit that I had just received that had burned out LED segments; they said it wasn't necessary to return it to them; it was mine to keep.
NOVEMBER 26, 2013 E-mail message to the City Clerk/Treasurer:
In addition to getting a new UPS for the Water Treatment Plant control panel
(http://www.apc.com/products/resource/include/techspec_index.cfm?base_sku=BR1000G) for $129.00, I've also arranged to get a new, SECOND identical unit AT NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE for the computers, server, modems, etc. in your office."
Now; I COULD have kept that unit for myself; (it really belonged to me) because I had already paid for it, and knowing that Amazon was going to send a second, 'replacement' unit to me. Still, I paid for it; it belonged to me.
INSTEAD, I brought this unit (with the partially burned out LED segments), to City Hall, where it has been ever since (and still is), so that the computers at City Hall will receive the benefit of a new Uninterruptible Power Supply, valued at $129.99, this all at NO CHARGE TO TAXPAYERS !!
DECEMBER: Resignation of Deputy City Clerk Sue Block. Using the recording of the December City Council meeting that I had made, I even constructed the Minutes for the December City Council meeting for the City Clerk/Treasurer to help 'ease his workload' because the city no longer had a Deputy City Clerk.
DECEMBER: I openly opposed increases in property taxes for residents and increase of wages of Mayor and City Council Members.
DECEMBER: I reimbursed the city $81.88 for the cost of the Knit shirt with embroidered city logo as well as the fleece jacket with the embroidered city logo. I also requested that the city NOT purchase any 'business cards' for me; it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. I printed my own City Council member business cards; at my own expense.
Later, after seeing my professionally designed business cards that I had designed and printed, Council Member Trebesch asked me if I would print some similar City Council business cards for him. I did so, cheerfully. (And at NO CHARGE to Council Member Trebesch, to the city or to taxpayers.)
DECEMBER: Arranged for the Chief Fire Officer in Hamburg, Germany to recognize Hamburg Fire Chief Brad Droege for all of his service to the City of Hamburg (Minnesota) as well as our surrounding communities. Here's the e-mail that I received that accompanied the (framed) letter from the Hamburg (Germany) Chief Fire Officer that was presented to Brad:
"Dear Mr. Odoms,
We were very much honored to be part of a huge number of congratulators. Please find attached the letter, that Mr. Maurer – Chief Fire Officer of all fire fighters in Hamburg, Germany – prepared for Brad Droege.
Moreover from Hamburg-Germany to Hamburg-Minnesota our very best wishes and a happy New Year.
Office of Chief Fire Officer
DECEMBER: Returned all of the monies ($988.15) that I received as a Hamburg City Council member during 2013, back to the city to be deposited back into the 'General Fund'.
JANUARY: At the first City Council meeting in 2014, it was unanimously agreed by the entire City Council that, because of my deep involvement, knowledge and expertise in the design, the purchase and installation of the new automatic standby emergency generator at the lift station in Bi-Centennial Park, it would be in the best interests of the city, and I could better serve the city, if my 'city responsibility duties' were shifted from 'Streets' to "Water and Sewer".
That change of 'responsibilities' was approved by the entire City Council.
FEBRUARY: Remember the freeze ups of water service lines in February, March and April in early 2014? ?
I, along with the City Clerk/Treasurer, personally met with three city homeowners to assess the problem of their water service lines freezing up. And also remember those postcards that you receive in the mail advising you to let your cold water 'trickle' to prevent the water service line to your house from freezing up?
I was the one who came up with that idea. With the approval from the City Clerk/Treasurer, I designed the initial postcards, printed them up, addressed them, 'stamped' them, brought them to the Post Office and arranged for 'same day' delivery to residents. I also did the same for two more 'mailings' to city residents to keep them updated. During this particular event, I continuously updated my Official Hamburg City Council Member Website so that ALL residents would receive the SAME information INSTANTLY about the status of the water service line freeze-ups without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes. No charge to the city; of course. It was also my OFFICIAL HAMBURG CITY COUNCIL MEMBER Website, available to all city residents, that served as an accurate, up-to-the-minute resource as to the status of the frozen water service lines and what the city was doing and advising residents to do. PLEASE CLICK HERE to view the 'Water Service Line Freeze-Up Website' where Hamburg residents could receive IMMEDIATE and UPDATED information to keep them informed about what the city was doing. One source for "The SAME information to ALL city residents!"
My Website is STILL doing that today !!
FEBRUARY: City Hall would have been closed this weekday (I believe the City Clerk/Treasurer was ill) but because of the urgent situation involving the freezing up of residential water service lines, I volunteered to go to city hall and spend the day there to 'handle' any telephone calls from residents. This was a normal work day for me at my 'regular job', but I took the day off (and 'lost' eight hours pay) so I could be of service to, and available for, Hamburg residents.
FEBRUARY: The neighbors in the adjoining townhouse had their water service line freeze up and were without water service for eight days while the city tried to figure out what to do. While 'digging up the street' (at a cost to taxpayers of anywhere from $-2,500.00 to $-5,000.00 or more) seemed to be the only option, I came up with the idea of allowing our neighbors to 'tap into' our water service by simply drilling a hole through our common wall and 'interconnecting our water service to theirs.
Here's an e-mail from the (contract City Attorney that was forwarded to all City Council members on February 26, 2014 from the Hamburg City Clerk/Treasurer:
I just talked to Mac (contract city attorney) and we came to the conclusion that the proposal from Mr. Odoms may be the best alternative at this time."
My idea worked flawlessly, our neighbors had BOTH hot and cold running water and my idea SAVED HAMBURG TAXPAYER DOLLARS; anywhere from between $ 2.500.00 to $ 5,000.00 (or more) !!
FEBRUARY: I, and Mayor Malz, met with city resident (Consior) who sustained basement flooding of sewage backup due to excessive rainwater entering the sanitary sewer system; took pictures of the damage and provided them to the city.
FEBRUARY: I was able to personally resolve, in the city's favor, a long overdue, outstanding, past due balance owed to Century Manufacturing in the amount of $ 835.85, that the City Clerk/Treasurer had been unable to resolve; and had been turned over to a collection agency.
MARCH: GENERATOR INSTALLATION DAY !! To see the Webpage that I designed for Hamburg residents documenting the installation of the emergency standby generator at the Sewage Lift Station in Bi-Centennial Park, PLEASE CLICK HERE !!
MARCH: There was an older computer that was collecting dust in a closet at city hall. I suggested to the City Clerk/Treasurer that this computer could be set up in the Public Works employee's office in the basement of the Hamburg Community Hall so that he could access the Internet without having to go to city hall. In addition to getting the computer set up and operational on the Internet, I also established a unique e-mail address for our Public Works Department and its employee.
MARCH: Lift Station generator design and oversight; physical installation of generator, transfer switch and alarm panel.
MARCH: After reviewing the exorbitant telephone bills for the Water Treatment Plant and the Hamburg Community Hall/City Shop, I set out to find a way to dramatically reduce our cost to Century Link for those to facilities.
By reconfiguring the telephone lines and telephone service at both locations, I was able to save Hamburg taxpayers a substantial amount of money each month on 'wired' telephone service at the city's Water Treatment Plant and Community Hall/City Shop.
APRIL: Because of the magnitude of duties and responsibilities that the Public Works employee was involved with and responsible for, I went to Menard's in Hutchinson and picked up the necessary materials that were needed to finish the remaining wiring at the sewage Lift Station project in Bi-Centennial Park.
APRIL: Because of his heavy work load, I assisted Hamburg's Public Works employee by cutting the grass in Bi-Centennial Park and at the Hamburg Service Memorial numerous times during April and May.
APRIL: Designed a means and arranged for installation of a 'hard wired' telephone line at city hall so that if the fiber optic cable serving all of city hall fails, city hall will still have a backup means to contact the 'outside world'.
MAY: The City Council originally was going to 'donate' about $3,300.00 that Councilmember Lund had requested to purchase an inflatable 'bouncy house'. However, after reading numerous news accounts of injuries sustained in 'bouncy houses', I withdrew my support. The Hamburg City Clerk/Treasurer received the following response from the (contract) city attorney after I raised the 'liability issues' that the city would be subjected to:
I had a chance to review Council Member Odom’s email regarding the inflatable jumping house. From a conservative legal standpoint, my advice to the City of Hamburg pretty much echoes the concerns set forth by Mr. Odoms. I have heard some horror stories about how use of these types of inflatable's can result in injuries and lawsuits."
Councilmember (now Hamburg Mayor Elect) Lund's suggestion of the 'bouncy house' idea was 'scrapped'. I don't think he ever forgot that.
JUNE: Spent several days working with Technician from NORTH STAR PUMP getting the new sewage flow meters installed in the sewage lift station at Bi-Centennial Park. Because the Technician was literally being lowered/raised into the pit where all of the city's raw sewage collects, a second person is required to be 'on-site' at all times. Was 'on-site'; all day, for several days, while this project was taking place. I sacrificed some of my schedule 'work days' at my 'regular job' so that I could be available to assist the North Star Pump Technician; thus allowing our Public Works employee to continue doing his normal daily routine and 'duties'.
JUNE: Suggested the possibility of adapting the old diesel powered generator previously used at the Sewage Lift Station, to be able to provide emergency power at the Hamburg Community Hall so that if the entire city, for whatever reason, would lose power for an extended period of time during the winter, city residents would have a temporary, centralized location that they could go that would provide them with heat, telephone, water and toilet facilities until such time as when either power to the city was restored, or they could make arrangements to be picked up by relatives.
JUNE: Designed and coordinated the final installation of wiring at the Sewage Lift Station and the reconnection of the lights on the flagpole in Bi-Centennial Park; letter of appreciation sent to Robb's Electric.
JUNE: Vividly described and reported the serious mold problems and unhealthily working conditions that exist at the Hamburg Community Hall to the rest of the members of the City Council.
JUNE: On June 19, 2014 at 3:12AM, I, along with Hamburg's Public Works employee, were alerted to a 'HIGH EFFLUENT' alarm at the city's sewage lift station at Bi-Centennial Park by Floyd Security; the company that monitors conditions at both the sewage lift station as well as the city's Water Treatment Plant. The city had been receiving heavy rain for a number of hours and eventually, due to 'infiltration' of rainwater into the city's sanitary sewer system coupled (probably) with residential sump pumps discharging into the sanitary sewer, the capacity of the lift station was 'overwhelmed'.
From the time that we were notified until 'things returned to normal' at 6:51PM that evening (about sixteen hours later), I worked 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with Hamburg's Public Works employee (I even missed a day of work because of the flooding) ensuring that city residents would experience 'minimal impact' of the heavy rainfall (3-5"+ inches) received. Ultimately, it was necessary to contact the Pollution Control Agency and tell them of our 'plight' and they gave us permission to pump (much diluted) sewage water from the city's sanitary sewer system into the city's storm water drainage system. In so doing, the city was able to prevent major sewage backup into residents homes; only about three or four homes sustained any damage from sewage backup; it certainly could have been much worse.
Shown below are some of the pictures that I took that day as a result of the flooding that the city experienced.
I continually updated my OFFICIAL HAMBURG CITY COUNCIL MEMBER Website to keep Hamburg residents up-to-date' as to what was taking place in the city. In so doing, EVERYBODY in the city got the SAME information !!
SUMMER: There was allot of 'work' that needed to be done at the sewage settling ponds due to extensive 'overgrowth' of weeds, trees, bushes, etc., that hadn't been 'tended to' for several years. I made numerous trips to the city sewage ponds; discussed and complimented the new Public Works employee as to the massive improvement he had made in this very difficult project.
JULY: The "Jacob Street Grinder Station" was totally demolished on July 31st when it was 'crashed into' by a motor vehicle. For about the next week or ten days, an emergency generator was 'on-site' to provide temporary power so that sewage wouldn't 'back up' into residents basements. This generator had to be 'monitored' 24/7 and it was run periodically, by the city's Public Works employee, and myself, during the entire time that the 'grinder station' was being rebuilt. I also used my OFFICIAL HAMBURG CITY COUNCIL MEMBER Website as a means to keep the residents of Hamburg (and anyone else who was interested) about the 'status' of the 'grinder station' repairs. To see just one, of many, Webpages that I designed during this time to keep everyone living in Hamburg informed, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Even though I kept the City Clerk/Treasurer and the City Council fully informed as to the 'progress' of the reconstruction' I was the city representative responsible and the 'contact person' who coordinate the entire project with North Star Pump, Xcel Energy and the electrician from Robb's Electric in Carver, who was their 'on-site' electrician.
When the topic of installing 'barrier posts' (at a cost of $2,000.00 as I recall) to protect the lift station from sustaining damage should a similar 'event' occur in the future, the City Council 'deadlocked' on committing to make that enhancement.
The Mayor 'broke' the tie vote by voting AGAINST having the barrier posts installed; his reasoning was that they 'weren't necessary'. It is highly 'noteworthy' that this was the FIRST TIME since taking my seat, that the City Council had not unanimously agreed on an 'issue' and the Mayor had to 'break the tie'.
I personally thought that was very commendable !!
AUGUST: Provided sound system and recorded music at 2014 National Night Out.
AUGUST: Arranged for a second alarm system to monitor the control panel at the Water Treatment Plant. The system proposed by another vendor was over $1.500.00; I was able to have Floyd Security install it for just $400.00 !!
To save taxpayer dollars, I designed, and coordinated the reconfiguring of telephone service at City Hall/Community Center and Water Treatment Plant; met several times with installers from Century Link.
Because of the 'screw up' in the initial order for reconfiguration, I was able to get Century Link to 'waive' any 'early disconnection fees' should the city wish to cancel their service before the expiration of their three year contract.
Because all of the telephone lines at the City Hall/Community Center have been converted over to Carver County's Fiber Optic 'Ring', should that fiber optic 'ring' fail, for any reason, the City Hall/Community Center would have no telephone service whatsoever. I designed, and caused to be installed, a 'hardwire' landline telephone at the City Hall/Community Center so that in the event of a catastrophic telephone failure at City Hall/Community Center, the city would still have contact with the 'outside world'.
I set up and installed a computer system in the Hamburg Public Works employee's office and also arranged for Internet service to also be available there.
I also created a Website for the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department; complete with an interview with Chief Justin Buckentin. To see that Website and hear that interview, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
When 35 year veteran firefighter Brad Droege was Hamburg's Fire Chief, I also went went to his house and conducted an interview with him and talked about his long and dedicated, impressive career as a member of the Fire Service. Brad is also currently a Paramedic with the Ridgeview Medical Center's Ambulance Service and a member of the Norwood Young America Volunteer Fire Department.