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Posted on: July 9, 2021

Fire, Police and Parks & Recreation Employees Retire from City of Edina

Edina, Minn., July 9, 2021 – Six City of Edina employees retired in the second quarter of 2021. 

Centennial Lakes Park General Manager Tom Shirley retired April 29 after serving the Edina community for 30 years. On July 30, 1990, he began working for the City of Edina after moving back to Minnesota to be closer to family. He was hired as the Assistant Manager of Edinborough Park and Centennial Lakes Park, which were coupled for management purposes at that time. In 1993, Shirley became the General Manager of both and led operations for 16 years. The operations separated in 2006, and Shirley chose to continue managing the facility that kept him outside – Centennial Lakes Park.

About Shirley, Assistant Parks & Recreation Director Tracy Petersen said, “I miss his caring, thoughtful demeanor and his knowledge of the park. I will also miss his deep commitment to the park and his desire to continue to make it a regional destination.”

Assistant Fire Chief of Operations Jeff Siems and Fire Marshal Rick Hammerschmidt retired from the Fire Department.

Siems, who retired May 3, gave almost 30 years to the City and served as Acting Fire Chief in the months leading up to his retirement. He started his fire service career during his time at college in Mankato where he got his paramedic certification. He then interned with Hennepin County and landed his first full-time job in 1988 with the County’s ambulance service. Four years later, Siems arrived in Edina, where he worked his way from the ambulance to the fire truck and ultimately as Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal. 

Edina City Manager Scott Neal said Siems has a wide professional skillset. “Jeff’s skillset has been so good for our Fire Department, and our community,” he said. “He has been a dedicated public servant in Edina for over 25 years. I’m happy for him that he has reached a point where he can relax and let others answer the calls for a while.”

Hammerschmidt retired June 25 after spending four years at the City and 36 in fire service. Hammerschmidt grew up in Bloomington and started his career in the fire service as a paid-on-call firefighter in Eden Prairie. He then spent 10 years there as a full-timer, spending time as a Fire Inspector and Lieutenant. An opportunity for a Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal position opened in Golden Valley. He came to Edina two years later. 

“Rick was very helpful when I first joined the command staff,” said Edina Fire Training/Safety Chief Pete Fisher. “He was always positive, never appeared stressed, and was a great role model -- I really enjoyed working with him.”

The Edina Police Department saw three longtime employees retire, including Police Chief Dave Nelson, Police Lt. Tim Olson and Police Officer Tom Mason.

Nelson retired June 4 after more than 32 years in law enforcement and starting as a Police Officer with the City of Edina in 1991. After thinking he would have a career in sales, he transitioned into thinking about a career in law enforcement after taking a few classes he found interesting in college. He served as Edina’s Chief for 7.5 years.

One of his earliest impacts on the department was holding the department’s first School Resource Officer position -- an early indicator of his innovation and leadership skills.

“Chief Nelson was one of the last of the true police leaders,” said Edina Police Lt. Brian Tholen. “He wore his uniform every day and was the first at work and the last to leave. He was able to lead and mentor not only his experienced command staff, but every Police Officer in his Police Department.  He has left a very strong and respected legacy. His ability to lead and plan for the future was a characteristic that many Chiefs struggle at; he was a natural.  rom wearing is police uniform every day to his smooth and polished leather boots, ‘Nels’ will always be remembered as a cops’ Chief who understood what is was like to be on the front lines.”

Mason started with the City in 1989 and retired June 30 with an impressive 30-plus years under his belt. Mason ranked first in seniority among the City’s patrol force before his departure. 

“Officer Tom Mason was not only an incredible officer, but he was a friend to everyone at Edina PD,” said Tholen. “From his 30-plus years of experience, Tom was able to teach and relate to everyone from the Chief to the newest officers. He is a true, genuine person who never let the stress affect his positive and optimistic attitude toward the career and life. The residents loved his demeanor and his ability to listen to their concerns and provide a ‘common sense’ solution for them. His sense of humor and storytelling at roll calls and lunches will be missed, but his stories and life lessons he taught all of us will always live on at EPD!”

Another police long-timer, Olson, started with the City in 1994 and retired May 28. He credits the bonds formed with his coworkers as well as the Edina community for a successful career in law enforcement. He began his career in law enforcement after he found the corporate sales world unfulfilling. He spent time working in Crystal as well as the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office before settling into Edina.

“Lt. Tim Olson was a lieutenant who was able to focus on what needed to get accomplished and allowed many of his Investigative Sergeants to make critical decisions, with them knowing he trusted their decisions with little oversight,” said Tholen. “I wish him the best in his retirement and future endeavors.”

For more information about City staffing, contact the Human Resources Department at 952-826-0364. 

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