This month will mark 4 years of me working as the City of Nacogdoches Communications and Main Street Director. From day one, I was tasked with writing articles about my observations of the City of Nacogoches and all of the projects of downtown and all City departments. Through this awesome adventure, I’ve written about Downtown, Civic Pride, Economic Development, Food Trucks, and even the ban on China’s imports of American trash (yes, I’m serious).
I asked the City Manager, Jim Jeffers, if he felt like I had been with the City of Nacogdoches (just down the hall from his office) for 4 years. He said it felt like 8. I feel like that was a compliment. Because for me, I feel so lucky to have been introduced to this community over the past few years. I’ve learned a lot and thought it would be fun to share with you thing things that continue to present themselves to me as I work to tell the story of the City of Nacogdoches.
You [citizens] are our eyes and ears. We love to hear about issues you see in the public—potholes, issues with water leaks, etc. Nine times out of ten, a citizen reports an issue to us that we did not know about until we received the call. For example, a few weeks ago a very large sewer line collapsed due to erosion and a citizen called us. If something looks off, we would rather you call and tell us than assume someone else has taken care of it. That brings me to my next point.
Ask and help. Don’t yell at me, please. I might cry. I am known for my ability to have “overactive tear ducts.” Just kidding, but we are people too. As the great philosopher Taylor Swift once said, “You say it in the street, that’s a knockout; But you say it in a tweet, that’s a cop out.” It is not a great conversation starter when questions or concern are posed to us starting with, “You probably won’t answer this.” or “I know you don’t care but…” Regardless of what you say, I will answer you because you’re a citizen and this is YOUR town. But, a little civility goes a long way. Be nice to us regardless of the communication platform. I promise, we want to help.
We make mistakes. Sometimes roads buckle due to broken waterlines. Sometimes rain delays construction (even if it’s not our project--looking at you Austin Street) We do the best we can in all circumstances. There’s always more to the story than meets the eye and we would love to tell you all about it, even if it’s a long one!
I work with some pretty awesome people who really, REALLY, really love this town. Everyone I call at the City wants to help me and you with your issues, concerns, and ideas. My co-workers rock. That is all.
We have the best downtown like, in the whole world. Not even going to lie. It’s cute, quaint, and has neat things. Does it need to be better? Heck yes.
But we have some dedicated community members who are working hard every day to make it beautiful, vibrant, and cool. We may be the oldest town in Texas, but no one has ever said we can’t be cutting edge too.
Being honest and transparent is always our game but it takes a lot of work. It’s easier to do things in a vacuum. To explain WHY something happened the way it did is a lot of work. I’m thankful to be charged with this task. I seriously light up when a thoughtful question comes through on an email or in social media. I take pride in our ability to sometimes fix the problem quickly or to explain to you the intricacies of why something happened the way it did.
In general progress takes a long time. It’s worse in government. Trust me, I’m annoyed too. I want to jump into projects and make everything perfect; we all do. We live in a litigious society where insurance and financial constraints make things slow. Sometimes realllllyyyyy slow. But I assure you, we want things to be better. We think ahead. We really do want to see change happen. We are sort of annoying with all of our rules (and those we must enforce from the federal and state levels)--we are annoyed too, don’t worry. On top of my innate ability to burst into tears, I am known to be impatient. I want it to happen and I want it to happen yesterday. You’ve got a friend in me.
My fourth wedding anniversary also falls a few days before my work anniversary. My husband said our marriage felt like 25 years instead of 4. I think that’s a compliment too. All I know is I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait to see what’s happening here when 25 years ACTUALLY goes by.
Amy Mehaffey is Communications & Main Street Director for the City of Nacogdoches.