By Teresa Holloway
CROCKETT – The relatively new Executive Director of the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation tendered his resignation to the CEIDC board Oct. 3.
Surprisingly, the revelation comes on the heels of several new developments at the Industrial Park and in the local community, more action, in short than the area has seen in several years.
The beleaguered CEIDC offices have long operated under strain. Former Director Thom Lambert’s resignation in Nov. 2015 left the Crockett City Council conducting rapid-fire interviews of several candidates and Attorney Chris Von Doenhoff standing in as interim director.
When Brent was hired, he already had a five year plan and a community outreach program developed for the community and the county. The programs were based on the extensive research he had conducted and provided to the community at large.
After directly involving local business owners and community members in a flash survey, Brent and the Board set about addressing expressed concerns and organizing several means of assistance for local business wishing to expand.
Since he took the Executive Director’s seat, Brent was directly involved in the expansion of both Stanley Jeans and Muscles and Curves. Those expansions resulted in the hiring of more employees for the area.
The Serenity Place of Houston opened its doors and a new car dealership is inbound. Several other projects for new businesses in the area are already in the works. Those details have now been laid aside for the new interim director.
Brent began and doggedly persisted with his plans for area expansion and improvements while laboring under the shadow of the dismayingly secretive methods of former director.
Many a community lament regarding the lack of accountability of CEIDC funds and lack of inbound business were heard in council meetings during the previous CEIDC administration.
As transparency is the new watchword of the decade, the city council members began to demand more accountability of both monies spent and potential projects from the previous director shortly before his resignation.
The requirement wasn’t an issue for him, according to Brent. His office has produced and disseminated to the press and council a monthly report on board meetings, budgetary items and upcoming events originating in the CEIDC offices.
Neither the transparency nor the number of quick successes since his Directorship began appeased some of the local leaders, according to one inside source.
Monthly director’s reports and Brent’s revision of the budget, which cut more than $50,000 from the CEIDC plate, were not enough to sway those in opposition to a ‘CEIDC’, the same source explained.
The revised budget itself was not approved in consecutive meetings of the city council and no explanations were offered during those meetings.
The budget repeatedly failed to garner formal approval until Von Doenhoff pointedly asked the council members to account for their unexplained reluctance to approve the smaller CEIDC budget. The budget was approved during that meeting.
Options for ‘regaining city level control over the agency’ continued to be discussed often in city council meetings, as were as options for the city’s potential use of the CEIDC’s budgeted funds should the corporation be dissolved.
Issues regarding the legality of some of those discussed potential actions are still being debated due to City Charter requirements.
Despite changes under the new director, several council members continued to advocate plans for moving the CEIDC offices to City Hall, replacing the board members or other options though no decision has been reached in three months.
Of his sudden departure from his brief but successful stint in the Executive Director’s Chair, Brent is optimistic, “Something good will come out of it,” he said.
“The CEIDC Board gave me an opportunity several months ago to become the Executive Director for Crockett. During my tenure here, I have witnessed the community working together to bring new jobs to town …” his resignation news release read.
“I would like to thank the CEIDC Board for their guidance and generosity, the citizens of Crockett and Houston County for their warmth and acceptance, and Suzanne Steed for her infinite knowledge of the city. I only have the deepest regards and the best wishes for the CEIDC and the citizens of Crockett and Houston County.”
By Teresa Holloway