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Council to discuss naming maintenance center after former member

By Richard Yeakley
June 10, 2013 at 11 p.m.


The Longview City Council is poised to name the maintenance center at Longview Transit in honor of former city councilwoman Sidney Bell Willis.

<em><strong>Editor's Note:</strong> A previous version of this story, which also ran in the Tuesday edition of the Longview News-Journal, incorrectly stated that the vote on naming the maintenance center for Sidney Bell Willis would not be on the council's action agenda. This version has been corrected.</em>

The Longview City Council is poised to name the maintenance center at Longview Transit in honor of former city councilwoman Sidney Bell Willis.

Naming the maintenance center for Willis was a second option reached by city staff members after the council put off a vote at a May 23 meeting that would have changed the name of Sapphire Street in South Longview to Sidney Bell Willis Drive.

The council will consider the new name change Thursday as part of the meeting's action agenda.

"Possibly we will talk about it, but I feel very good about it being passed. I don't think any of the council would vote against it," said District 1 Councilman John Sims, who along with District 3 Councilwoman Kasha Williams, originally proposed naming the road for Willis.

Sims said that although he still feels Sapphire Street ought have been named for the three-term councilwoman, he felt the maintenance center was a fitting alternative.

"Well, I think it is appropriate, because she was very instrumental in getting the routes changed so that people could get to the Walmart out on the south side. She talked about it quite a bit, and brought various things to our attention," Sims said.

Willis served three terms on the City Council representing District 3 after working more than 40 years with the Longview Independent School District.

When she died in July at the age of 76, Willis was remembered as a trailblazer who was selfless and brave.

When council members met in May, several vocal Sapphire Street residents raised concerns that changing the road name would place a financial burden on the nearly 40 residents of the street.

Sims motioned the council table the discussion and once the vote to table was approved city staff began a search for alternatives to Sapphire Street.

During her nine years on the Longview City Council, Willis was intricately involved with Longview Transit, including helping with the creation of the bus system.

"I just want to say that I don't think we could do anything at all to give her the credit that she deserves," Sims said.

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