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Longview human resources boss plans early retirement

By Richard Yeakley
Aug. 15, 2013 at 11 p.m.


The City of Longview's longtime human resources director will retire later this month to homeschool her two adopted sons, ages 12 and 14.

Karri Hyko, 51, who has worked with the city since she was 25, said she will retire early because of the call she felt on her life to provide a stable influence for the sons she calls "Big D" and "Little D."

"The reason I am leaving early is because of our sons ... they were 10 and 12 at the time (they were adopted) ... and they come from a hard place, and they haven't had a lot of stability in their life," Hyko said. "Between that and just thinking, you know we only have the boys in our home for five to eight more years maybe, I think we need to do some intensive work on creating character, building values and just being a steady presence in their life, because they have never had that in their life."

Hyko declined to provide the first names of the brothers out of respect to the birth family, she said.

The choice to adopt and the choice to retire early and spend time with her sons was driven by a Christian faith that compelled her to live beyond a level of earthly comfort, she said.

"We were teaching at the time that led up to this decision... I don't know if you have read the book Radical or not, but it challenges you to reconsider. The American dream is retirement, right? You are going to retire, drink a margarita on the beach and spend your days basking in the sun," Hyko said. "It isn't even biblical. When you start reading scripture you realize God didn't call us to retire at a particular point and time. He has called us to deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow him. And that may mean leaving my job early, it may mean selling a home and downsizing, so that came into play (for both decisions)."

She said she would home school the boys to help fill learning gaps that she and her husband Mike had discovered.

<h3>25 years</h3>

Hyko said she joined the city of Longview in 1988 and spent the first seven years working in emergency communications as a dispatcher for police, fire and ambulance services.

She recalled that after being offered the position in the communications department, she asked to sit in for several hours to see if she would enjoy the work.

It stuck.

"I loved the job. I just thrived over there," Hyko said.

Consistent work helped Hyko reach the position of night shift supervisor for the department, where she marshaled employees for several years.

"I enjoyed the calls that came in at those times; it was just a different call every shift," Hyko said. "But the shift work eventually wears on you. I had an opportunity to move into H.R. and I took a voluntary demotion to move over."

That choice, made at the urging of a former director of human resources in 1995, launched Hyko on a journey that carried her through three offices, and as many positions until, in 2007, she was promoted to the role of Director of Human Resources.

During her ascent from a recruiter for the city - she remembers calling now-Director of Public Works Keith Bonds at a different city to try to convince him to apply for a position in Longview - to the director of the department - overseeing payroll and the risk management department for more than 800 city employees - Hyko used the city's tuition reimbursement plan and secured her bachelor's degree at LeTourneau University - a requirement for both the management and director positions she obtained.

She said she was proud the progress the Human Resources department had made during her tenure.

"Two large changes come to mind, the first is a shift in being seen back then as a compliance police and regulators.. .. a shift eventually of seeing us more of as a consultant and somebody to come along side and help a department," Hyko said. "The other biggy is that we have become so automated now ... we were still using paper application; I guess I was H.R. manager when we started making the shift."

The city now digitally stores personnel fires, accepts digital applications and can adjust pay digitally without having each player sign a stack of documents, she said.

Hyko said rising through the city of Longview gave her knowledge that made her more successful when she was promoted to the position of director.

<h3>After Hyko</h3>

Although Hyko will not retire until Aug. 31, city staff have already begun the process of searching for her replacement.

Longview Risk Manager Terri Fields will provide some interim assistance as the position is vacant. The city has contracted with Keller-based Strategic Government Resources to find applicants to fill the position, city spokesman Shawn Hara said.

Hara said the city does not have a time frame for filling Hyko's position.

In Longview, a candidate to serve in the role of director must be selected by the City Manager and approved by the City Council, Hara said.

Hyko helped coordinate the hiring process for City Manager David Willard when he arrived in 2007. Willard said it had been a pleasure to work with her since that time.

"Although I hate to see her go, I was excited for her when she told me she was thinking about retirement, and I commend her for the decision to dedicate more time to her family. I know that we will definitely miss her insight and leadership here. Our loss is her family's gain," he said.

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