Archive for Thursday, August 19, 2004

Odle resigns as state fire marshal

August 19, 2004

Basehor resident and long-time public servant Joe Odle plans to knock the dust off a set of Callaway-brand golf clubs now that he's retired a year ahead of schedule as the Kansas state fire marshal.

"I've had them for three years," Odle said. "I figured it's about time to use them."

Last week, Odle resigned amid some controversy after comments he made during a legislative audit hearing ruffled a few feathers of state lawmakers.

Two weeks ago, Odle testified before a Senate committee to address findings in the legislative audit that cited deficiencies by the fire marshal's office in conducting all fire inspections required by state law.

Odle said he disputed some of the audit's findings, something "they don't like you to do." His answers to some of the committee's questions were less than well received. Some Senators "took offense and went to the governor" demanding either an apology from Odle or his resignation, he said.

His answer to the ultimatum was steeped in the same candor Odle was known for during his 10 years as mayor of Basehor and four years as a City Council member.

"They wanted an apology and I wasn't about to give it," he said.

Odle said after the request came down from the Senators, he chose to speed up his retirement. "I went a year earlier than when I was going to go," he said.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed Odle state fire marshal in Jan. 2003. She cited his past service record, which included 38 years of fire service as reasons for his appointment.

A statement from the governor released after Odle resigned said he made "several positive contributions" but didn't live up to the "governor's expectation of civility" while working with state lawmakers.

Odle said he plans to spend his retirement vacationing with his family and playing golf.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.