Polo Park Students Wow Wellington Council With Robotics

Robotics students demonstrate their innovative energy device. Photos courtesy the Village of Wellington

The Wellington Village Council enjoyed a presentation by the Polo Park Middle School Robotics Team on Tuesday, Jan. 10, and also presented a proclamation recognizing retiring Assistant Planning, Zoning & Building Director Michael O’Dell for his dedication to the village and welcomed a new Masonic Lodge chapter to the community.

“Last year, we had a state championship team,” teacher and coach David Grad said. “Another one received an award that is only given out to one team, called the Rising Star award. And one of our teams qualified and went on to worlds and finished 38th out of 108 teams.”

Members of the school’s three robotics teams came and addressed the council regarding the projects they are working on. Since September, they have been working every afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. toward their project solution, innovating something to make it more practical or creating something to use energy to our advantage.

The first team, Team 16113, spoke about how they are utilizing water that travels through pipes to produce storable energy. Their qualifier event will be held Jan. 28.

Team 44893 presented their prototype machine that utilizes sound energy that charges a battery, that can then provide electricity through a reverse-engineered speaker. Their qualifier event is on Feb. 11.

Team 36112 presented their universal energy label project, which discloses the energy consumption used to create a product. With this knowledge, consumers can choose items with less energy impact. Their qualifier event is on Feb. 12.

Mayor Anne Gerwig congratulated the students on their innovative ideas and requested the results of the team qualifiers when they are available.

The council presents Michael O’Dell with his proclamation.

Saluting Michael O’Dell — O’Dell joined Wellington’s staff in 2011 and became assistant Planning, Zoning & Building Director in 2016. The council recognized O’Dell, extending best wishes for his retirement and appreciation for his service, which included work on a number of complicated special projects with a focus on equestrian issues.

“Your work for this village started before you came on staff,” Gerwig said. “You worked on everything that came along.”

Vice Mayor Michael Drahos said O’Dell is always considered the go-to person for answers.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do now that you’re retiring,” Drahos said. “But I will say, from behind the scenes, so the residents know, Mike has always provided a calm and very steady influence here at village hall… I’m going to miss that.”

Councilman Michael Napoleone said O’Dell never got the easy projects.

“I wish you all the best in retirement. Enjoy your years not being here,” Napoleone said.

Councilman John McGovern started by thanking Kim O’Dell.

“For my entire tenure here, what I know is that if there’s something complicated or big, I’m going to be seeing Mike O’Dell about it,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do next. Sincerely Mike, you have made this village a better place both for your service, for your ideas, for your creativity, and we will owe you a debt of gratitude for many years to come.”

Councilwoman Tanya Siskind asked if they could vote for O’Dell not to retire.

“You’re just amazing. I don’t know what we’re going to do without you,” she said. “You definitely deserve the best in retirement.”

O’Dell thanked the council for the honor. “I’ve enjoyed working with all of you. Seeing all the projects you’ve authorized come to fruition has been great,” he said.

O’Dell raised his children in Wellington, and he thanked the entire village staff for all their hard work. He asked that they not leave “what if” out of their vocabulary.

“What if has gotten us the Town Center boardwalk. What if has gotten us Greenview Shores Park. What if has gotten us the golf cart ordinance, and I could go on,” O’Dell said. “All of those things happened because of sitting around a table and brainstorming with this staff, which is just incredible.”

Jane Cleveland, who chairs the Equestrian Preserve Committee, thanked O’Dell for his expertise and talent.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do without you, truly,” she said. “They say that everybody can be replaced. I really don’t think so. Enjoy your next step.”

And last but not least, Village Manager Jim Barnes thanked O’Dell for his time in Wellington.

“One of the biggest things that Mike is leaving us with, in addition to the list of projects and great accomplishments, is that Mike has come a long way to bring a bunch of staff we’ve had here in the time and developed them,” Barnes said. “He trained a lot of people, and mentored a lot of people, and I think that’s going to be the biggest impact he’s going to have on us and the community. Thank you for that, Mike.”

The council recognizes Thurgood Marshall Masonic Lodge #121.

New Masonic Lodge — New to Wellington is the Thurgood Marshall Masonic Lodge #121. On Dec. 8, 2021, permission was given for the lodge, and it was named. On Oct. 1, 2022, the lodge was granted a full charter.

Lodge members came to the podium, sharing that their focus is on service, and they want to be a part of charitable efforts within the community. They’d like to focus on mentorship, and are a lodge of professional men, business owners, and look forward to being a part of the community.

Now that we’re here, we’re looking forward to helping,” Junior Warden Brother Alan Bottorff said.

The council members welcomed the lodge, offering to help them fulfill their mission.