Corps of Engineers honors local Realtor
Tonganoxie resident Jim Edmonds recently received the Distinguished Civilian Employee award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Edmonds retired from the corps in 1992 and since has worked as a Realtor. He was surprised to learn he would receive the award.
"It's frosting on the cake," Edmonds said with a smile. "I had a nice career with the corps of engineers -- and now 13 1/2 years after I retired for them to put me in."
He started his 37-year career with the corps by working in construction.
Projects he worked on included missile silos near Wichita, city flood control gates in downtown Ottawa, and Milford and Tuttle Creek dams in Kansas, as well as Stockton and Truman dams in Missouri.
By the time he retired he also had experience working as a park ranger at Wilson Lake and Lake Perry, both in Kansas.
During his last 15 years with the corps he worked in the district office.
Edmonds received a plaque at the corps picnic held in June at Longview Lake.
As part of the honor, Edmonds will be added to the corps' hall of fame, which is on the seventh floor of the federal building in Kansas City, Mo.
Edmonds said his award stemmed from an idea he came up with while working for the corps.
He explained that maintenance work at corps' lakes used to be done by corps crews.
Edmonds suggested they contract the work out to save money.
The work included mowing the parks and campground area and cleaning the facilities.
His idea caught on.
"When I retired 15 years later, we had 200 contractors performing all the maintenance work at the lake projects," Edmonds said. "We went from zero to 200 and they were doing it for less than we could do it ourselves."
Edmonds said it made sense to let independent companies do the work.
The work was seasonal, with help needed only six months of the year.
And, he said, contractors would be able to accomplish the job using less expensive equipment.
"It's the old adage of killing a fly with a sledgehammer," Edmonds said.
"The government procurement system for equipment is somewhat cumbersome. It works quite well for some specific things. The government isn't going to go out and buy used equipment to mow the parks. But the contractor will."
He said he thinks his idea is still in use.
"To the best of my knowledge they are still contracting, and hopefully still saving some money," Edmonds said.
Keeps on going
Edmonds and his wife, Delores, who is retired, have lived in Tonganoxie for 13 years. The couple have three grown sons, James, Tulsa; John, Tonganoxie; and Robert, Jarbalo. And they have 10 grandchildren, the youngest born Oct. 19.
"We're proud of every one of them," Edmonds said.
Since Edmonds and his wife moved to Tonganoxie 13 years ago, he's been driving back and forth to work at Reece Nichols in Leavenworth.
But recently, he said, he's been spending more time at the Tonganoxie branch.
"I will be in the Tonganoxie office starting January first of next year, if not before," Edmonds said.
At the age of 69, which Edmonds described as, "as old as dirt," he doesn't have plans for retirement.
He likes what he does, though he admits there are fish to catch and a dulcimer at home he someday hopes to learn to play.
"I wouldn't still be working if I didn't love real estate," Edmonds said.
Besides, he said, it gives him something to do.
"I'm too nervous and fidgety to sit and rock," Edmonds said with a smile. "And time's creeping up on me."