WEC’s newest trustee is proud to serve area
Throughout his life, Randy Odom has volunteered his time to serve the Columbia area community, even while he maintained a demanding job at the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant.
A trained emergency medical technician, he was a member of the Columbia Rescue Squad for many years. Odom also volunteered with the fire department and police reserves in the eastern Houston County community.
Now, Odom is bettering the Columbia area, and the whole Wiregrass region, in a new position as Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s (WEC's) District 2 trustee. While his work experience gives him a depth of knowledge about electricity generation, Odom understands he has plenty to learn about distribution. Still, he has adopted a simple philosophy that will allow him to help steer WEC in the right direction for years to come.
“You have got to look for what’s best for the membership, what’s best for the co-op to keep it viable for years to come,” he says.
Rising Through the Ranks
When he retired from the Farley plant in 2016, Odom’s resume included positions like lead operations instructor, senior reactor operator, and operations planner. But his 40-year career there started much more modestly.
“I came out of high school and went to work with Daniel Construction Co., who was building Farley,” he says. “I worked with them in the warehouse for a little over a year, transferred over to the power company and worked my way up from sweeping floors to operations to planning for 10 years before ending up in training. For the last five years, I was the supervisor for continuing training for the operations team.”
Some of Odom’s responsibilities included reviewing and scheduling equipment maintenance, training other reactor operators on required certifications and scheduling the instructors needed for those training sessions. He attributes his ascent through the ranks to a couple of factors.
“I was in the right place at the right time. Your work ethic proves a lot of it,” he says. “I really enjoyed my job when I retired at Farley. I was able to spend my career at home.”
Odom had a shining work ethic outside of his occupation, too. He served as a first responder in a rural area until work commitments made it impossible. He’s always loved farming and assisted a friend with his operations almost daily. Even now, he owns some cows and helps his son-in-law with a joint cattle operation, too.
When former trustee Donna Parrish resigned to move to the Birmingham area, Odom considered following another path to better his community. Discussions with Parrish and a friend who serves on Pea River Electric Cooperative’s board cemented his decision to seek a seat on the WEC board.
“My friend said he learned a lot and met a lot of people, and he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again,” Odom says. “In talking to both of them, it made up my mind. I know the generation side, and I thought it was a good opportunity to learn about the distribution side. I decided to run and got elected.”
Odom became a trustee in October, and he has been impressed with WEC’s operations and leadership.
“I think the cooperative is in good shape financially. I think we have some good leadership running the co-op,” he says. “From what I’ve seen, the board has an easy job with the leadership we have there.”
Two of WEC’s projects stand out in Odom’s mind: helping the HoustonCounty Sanitation Department bill its customers and creating the Broadband for the Wiregrass partnership with C Spire/ Troy Cable.
“They teamed up with Troy Cable to get broadband in the country, and we need it,” he says. “For about three years, the only thing we had was hot spots on the cellphone. We were tickled to death to get Troy Cable here. Everybody’s that gotten it will tell you the same thing — it’s fast, reliable.”
Odom also sings the praises of WEC’s reliable electrical service. Despite living in the area of the state hit hardest by Hurricane Michael, Odom had electrical service restored within a day of its landfall.
“Over the years, Wiregrass has had a good record of reliability of serving,” he says. “It seems like it’s better now than it’s ever been.”
Odom hopes to help WEC continue that strong performance in the years to come. He believes his professional experience — like balancing the training needs of about 100 nuclear reactor operators — will serve him well in that effort.
“In most of the situations, you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” he says. “You have to be able to think on your feet and make the right decision to end up with the right result. That’s kind of what I think being a trustee is.”
Randy Odom Bio
Children: Chris Odom and Jennfier (Trey) Wright
Grandchildren: Grayson and Sawyer
Hobbies: Watching college football, particularly the Alabama Crimson Tide; serving on First Baptist Church - Columbia's audio/visual team; working on the cattle farm
WEC Membership: Since 1982