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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Utility man does it all for city
Like a multiposition baseball player, Kevin Hamm is the ultimate geek for Port Richey.
By CAMILLE C. SPENCER
Published July 13, 2007
They call him the geek. The tech guy. Their jack of all trades.
Meet Kevin Hamm, Port Richey's technologies support specialist.
Hamm is tall and lean, with clear blue eyes and dark wavy hair. He's a U.S. Navy veteran who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 27. Doctors told Hamm he had two weeks to live. But surgery and a plastic shunt that runs from the top of his head to his abdomen saved his life.
For seven years, he worked part time as Port Richey's self-taught technology wizard. He started full time last year.
Since then, he's become the guy that this little city can't do without.
Hamm talked to the Pasco Times on Thursday about what his job entails and how he learned to do a little bit of everything.
What do you do at City Hall?
Pretty much whatever they come up with. Installing laptops in police cars, fixing alarms and door locks. Installing computer systems. Building Web sites. I dug underground at Brasher Park to install cameras once.
How did you learn about computer equipment?
I was out sick with my tumor in 1993, and my dad brought me an old computer. He wasn't a person with a lot of money, but he wanted to give me something. It eventually broke down, so I paid a guy $100 to put a few screws in and fix the motherboard. After that, I said, "Never again will I be ripped off." I went to computer shows and showed myself how to do it. I did phone tech support for a company, and it became second nature.
How did you learn about locks and camera equipment?
I learned locks in the Navy. Documents were maintained in safes, so we had to update them and reset the combinations. And cameras are a lot like computers.
What's been the oddest request you've had at City Hall?
When they asked me to fill in for a few weeks at the building department. I had to sit down and learn how things get done there. A lady was upset because I issued a dog license for her two dogs and a potbellied pig. She always gets permit numbers 1, 2 and 3. No. 1 is for her potbellied pig. But those were taken, so she got 4, 5 and 6. So I had the building department send her a letter saying that her pig will always be number one to us.
What would happen if you didn't come to work?
No one is irreplaceable. I learned that in the Navy. I keep the computer and alarm passwords in a sealed envelope, just in case I'm run over by a truck or something.
What's been the biggest obstacle in your life?
The brain tumor. I was going to retire from the service, get out, get my pension. I wasn't prepared at all to get out (on medical discharge). People don't realize how hard that is, to get back to civilian life. When I got diagnosed, my left foot was dragging, I had no muscle tone on the left side of my face. A Navy lieutenant thought I was on drugs because my pupils were dilated. I couldn't even walk a straight line. They said I had five times too much fluid in my head.
What's something most people don't know about you?
That I like where I work. I like the people. There's never a dull moment in the city of Port Richey. Whether it's a City Council meeting day, elections or hurricane season.
How do you spend your free time?
I have six dogs, two birds, two ferrets and two kids at home. And I take care of a 90-year-old man who was like a father to me. We moved him in nine years ago. People kind of knew him as my dad, so when he got old and couldn't take care of himself, I got power of attorney. He was a big influence. He was a responsible person. He was always a role model to me.
About this feature
Pasco People is a regular feature that will spotlight the people who make Pasco County the kind of community it is. Got someone you think we should profile? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org