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Transition to new leadership become a focus for Longview mayor

By Richard Yeakley
Sept. 20, 2013 at 10 p.m.

Longview Mayor Jay Dean said Friday his last year-and-a-half in office will be spent helping lay the groundwork for the next group of city leaders.

"I think it is important that we know where we are going, what we look like in going there, what the future holds for our community," Dean said at the Longview Chamber of Commerce's annual State of the City luncheon at Pinecrest Country Club.

"We want to make sure when people come into elected office in the city of Longview they understand what the citizens want."

When asked by Chamber of Commerce board member Jeremy DuMond what personal projects Dean would oversee during his final time in office, Dean directed attention back to the formation of a comprehensive 20-25 year plan for the city.

The mayor is halfway through his third and - by city ordinance - final three-year term as mayor after being re-elected in May 2012.

"The city is going to have to elect new leadership, and what is important to me is to make sure that there is a plan … that the next person can hit the ground running," Dean told a crowd of about 250 people. "A ship doesn't go on its own - it has a rudder. I think this comprehensive plan is the rudder for the next mayor to make sure that that person knows exactly where the city wants to go."

The mayor's post will come up for election in May 2015.

Dean said the city is "strong and moving forward," pointing to projects across Longview, from the extension of Fourth Street and Hawkins Parkway on the busy North Eastman Road retail corridor, to a $270,000 grant project for the city's Texas 31 entrance secured by Keep Longview Beautiful.

Dean also cited impending demolition of the former Holiday Inn property - now jokingly called "Beirut" - at the corner of Estes Parkway and Interstate 20 in South Longview as an example of growth.

The mayor also took time praising the arts, highlighting the Belcher Center at LeTourneau University for drawing huge entertainment spectacles and the Longview World of Wonders, which when completed will provide a hands-on discovery center for Northeast Texas children in downtown Longview.

"If it wasn't for the volunteers we have in this community, the community would not be the same. They are the backbone of our nonprofit organizations, and the list is long (of) how many different nonprofit organizations we have in the city that do a great thing for the people of Longview," Dean said.

"Volunteers contribute millions, literally millions, of dollars of work based on the time they spend for the passions that they enjoy to try to make this community the place is it."

The Longview City Council unanimously approved a $224,989 contract in June with Fort Worth-based Freese and Nichols for the development of the City of Longview Comprehensive Plan.

In July, the council selected 25 Longview residents who will make up the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee that will be chaired by former Mayor Earl Roberts. District 5 Councilman Richard Manley will serve as the council liaison for that panel.

Dean, Manley and Roberts have said the development of the plan will rely heavily on community input.

The advisory committee's first meeting is set Oct. 7.



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