Interim Longview Assistant City Manager Rolin McPhee could be named to replace retiring City Manager Keith Bonds as the city looks to reorganize several departments and add new ones.
All the recommendations are set to go before the City Council for approval during Thursday’s meeting.
Bonds announced in November that he would retire at the end of January, ending a 22-year tenure working for the city. Earlier in 2021, the council named McPhee, a former public works director, as interim assistant city manager.
Bonds and McPhee on Friday stressed the importance of having a clear succession plan.
“I think that succession planning is the number one job of any person that is leading an organization,” McPhee said.
Media and Tourism Manager Shawn Hara said the council is responsible for hiring four positions: city manager, city attorney, city secretary and municipal judge. The city manager is responsible for director-level positions as well as police chief and fire chief.
However, the city manager’s recommendations for director-level positions require council approval.
If McPhee is approved as city manager, a domino effect will occur, impacting the roles of other city employees, Hara said.
Director of Administration MaryAnn Hagenbucher will be recommended as the new assistant city manager.
Bonds said when compared with 16 other Texas cities around the same size and budget of Longview, 15 of those had at least one assistant city manager. Some of them had an assistant city managers and deputy city managers.
Hagenbucher’s successor is recommended as Human Resources Manager Bonnie Hubbard.
Bonds said the HR position would be open and a replacement hired.
And acting Public Works Director Dwayne Archer is recommended to take over the position permanently.
Bonds also said two new city departments could be created, pending council approval.
The need for a Grant Services Department arose from the abundance of grants that are coming to the city from state and federal agencies, he said.
“We don’t really have a central location for those grants to come through,” Bonds said.
That department, led by Director of Community Services Laura Hill, would ensure grants are being received appropriately and that the city remains compliant with the grants’ requirements.
Assistant Director of Community Services Dietrich Johnson would move to director of community services, replacing Hill.
Bonds said the assistant director of community service position would be eliminated.
Bonds also wants to create the Community Destinations Department led by Hara. Several entities would fall under the umbrella of this department, including the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center, the Longview Public Library, Visit Longview, Main Street and more.
The City Council is set to meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 300 W. Cotton St.
Two Longview leaders have been recognized as 2022 Unity Honors recipients.
The city’s Partners in Prevention’s Unity and Diversity Committee announced that NaTusha Howard and Jerry Gardner have been selected to receive the lifetime achievement award at a Feb. 16 ceremony.
According to the city, the Unity Honors “recognizes residents who have demonstrated leadership in promoting unity, mutual understanding and social justice.”
Howard has served as executive director of Newgate Mission since February. She studied at Panola College and Prairie View A&M University and has a master’s degree in theater from the California Institute of the Arts.
Howard said it is a great honor to be chosen for the award and that she’s grateful organizers believed she was worthy to receive it.
“My first reaction was, ‘Surely there’s someone better than me,’” she said.
Howard works with children and adults at Newgate Mission. She is also a member of Abundant Life Ministries, a non-denominational church in Longview.
She said she attended the church for 15 years and has worked with people of many races and creeds.
One of the ministries at the church works with youth to teach expression through art, singing, dance, music and theater. As a self-described “theater person,” Howard believes these types of positive self-expression are important.
Howard said she feels compelled to help others because she believes God has given her a servant’s heart.
“Serving people is something that (God) asked us to do,” Howard said. “The ministry allows for that and strengthens that in me.”
Howard has two sons, 14-year-old Dagan and 17-year-old Micah. She said her family was as excited as she was, including her mother and father, Audrey and David.
“I feel like I’ve made them proud,” Howard said.
Gardner also said he was shocked when he got the call telling him he was an award recipient.
“I was surprised and in shock,” he said. “There’s a lot of people out there that do a lot for our community, and I just feel really honored and humbled.”
Gardner is a board member at Newgate and started a Christmas Angel Tree program 31 years ago when he was a manager at Havertys Furniture in Longview.
He said he vividly remembers the moment he felt inspired to start the program.
Gardner had finished running a marathon in Dallas and was tired and stayed in the car when his wife decided she wanted to stop at a mall. He had the radio on while he waited, which is when he heard talk of an Angel Tree program on one of the stations.
“I thought, ‘Why couldn’t we do that at home in Longview?’ “ Gardner said.
After returning and spreading the word of the Angel Tree program through his wife, Nan Gardner, and bringing Jack and Wynell Kuhlman on board, the idea slowly started to become a reality.
Although it started small in 1991 with just a few children, the Havertys/Newgate Angel Tree program has grown over the years.
Gardner said, on average, the program serves at least 500 children every year.
However, Gardner said he doesn’t want the credit. Instead, he thinks it should be given to God because He works through him.
“I give him all the praise and all the glory,” he said. “I don’t want the praise or the glory. I wanna give it to him where it belongs.”
Gardner said now that he and his wife are grandparents, he feels a need to live by example. Rather than having people listen to him talk, Gardner would prefer people to look at what he does and how he lives.
Howard and Gardner will be honored Feb. 16 at the 18th annual Unity Honors Luncheon set 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.
Tickets for the event are $20 and must be purchased by Feb. 4.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit longviewtexas.gov/2631/Unity-Honors .
Donations are being accepted for the city of Longview’s Homeless Resource Day, which is returning after this past year’s cancellation.
The event, set 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Longview Exhibit Center, is a way for residents experiencing homelessness to receive services that otherwise would take months to secure and also offers them essential items, according to the city
Director of Community Services Laura Hill said homelessness can apply to numerous living situations.
“We’re serving everybody, so you may be living in a shelter or a mission, a hotel, your car. You may be living in a camp or on someone’s couch. No matter what, we’re gonna have all those agencies there to help you get on your feet,” Hill said.
The resource day will offer a number of services to homeless residents along with booths set up by various businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.
Hill said the event usually sees about 80 agencies participating and services about 400 people.
Longview Transit created a route for the event that will run free for anyone who need a ride, Hill said. The route will stop at the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, travel down Marshall Avenue and stop at the Salvation Army and Newgate Mission after which it will return and drop off riders at the exhibit center.
Hill said numerous barbers from around the region will be on site to provide haircuts, while the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center will be administering vaccinations for pets.
Also, eyecare checks will be offered by the Longview Lions Club and health checks will be administered by the Longview Fire Department and other agencies, Hill said.
In addition, services for veterans and city of Longview services through the municipal court will be offered.
Workforce Solutions East Texas will staff a booth to provide information about services it provides to job-seekers.
Area Manager Deanna Alexander said Workforce Solutions offers several programs to help unemployed people find work, such as one that assists job-seekers with more education.
Workforce Solutions also offers an on-the-job training program that helps people who already have a skill/trade hone their abilities for better chances at employment. The program also reimburses employers to a certain percentage of the worker’s wages for up to six months.
Greater Longview United Way Executive Director Evan Dolive said the organization will have a booth at the event providing information about its resources.
Hill said Wellness Pointe staff members will administer COVID-19 vaccines at the event, and in partnership through the Your Shot Texas Initiative, the United Way will offer gift cards for anyone who gets a vaccine.
Some of the other agencies that will have booths set up include One Love Longview, ETCADA, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Longview Lions Club, United Healthcare, Humana, Community Healthcore, Oak Street Health Primary Clinic, the Gregg County Health Department, the Salvation Army, Buckner Children and Family Services, Longview Dream Center, Longview Community Ministries, American Legion and more.
The event also will provide an opportunity for the annual Point in Time Homeless Count, Hill said. The count is a nationwide initiative that surveys the number of homeless people in the United States.
“Kind of like a census,” Hill said. “We’ll have a booth set up for people. When they come in, they will come through there and let us know their status.”
The count provides information that helps the city coordinate, guide and provide services for homeless residents throughout the year, she said.
“It gives us a snapshot in time of our homeless situation here in Longview.”
Donations for homeless outreach bags are being accepted until Jan. 24 at the Longview Public Library. A list of suggested donation items can be found at LongviewTexas.gov/Homeless .
Anything that is not used will be donated to nonprofit agencies such as the Hiway 80 Rescue Missione, Newgate Mission and Salvation Army.
Breakfast will be provided by Christus Good Shepherd, and lunch will be provided by the Jesus Burger ministry.
Face masks and sanitizer will be provided.
The Longview Exhibit Center is at 1123 Jaycee Drive.