By CRISTIN REECE
It was a bittersweet moment for Palestine City Manager Mike Ohrt when he turned in his resignation to council members on Wednesday.
Ohrt said he’s accepted the city manager’s position for the city of Wills Point.
“It’s certainly sad, but this move puts us closer to family,” Ohrt said Thursday.
Ohrt has served the City of Palestine since June of 2003. He was named interim city manager in 2010 and became city manager in March of 2011. He will remain in that position through July 12.
“I’m very disappointed for the city,” District 5 Council member Mark Price said. “Mike is a very positive, thoughtful, consistent person and a joy to work with. We’re going to miss him, no doubt about it.”
Palestine Parks and Recreation Director Roy Crouch added, “We wish him well.”
The 33-year-old, who holds both bachelor’s and masters degrees in public administration, said he’s learned much in the decade he’s worked for the Palestine community and is especially grateful for the chance to hone his leadership skills within the job. He said the knowledge he’ll take with him will serve him well in his new position too.
“I’ve especially learned most municipalities face the same issues and have many of the same concerns — it’s just on a different scale,” he said. “Obviously the larger the city, the bigger the scale.”
Some of the projects Ohrt said he’s most proud to have accomplished during his time at Palestine include attracting the Sanderson Farm chicken processing facility to Palestine and the increased attention to the city’s capital improvement schedule.
“Palestine is about to experience a very exciting growth period in the next two years,” he said. “It’s kind of frustrating to be leaving at this moment — to know I won’t be around to see it come to fruition.
Ohrt is also proud of the city’s improved development codes and processes.
“We’ve really worked hard to make it easier and more streamlined, for the public to use,” he said. “It’s much more effective and efficient and really helped to get things moving in the right direction.”
He said he hopes the city’s staff and his successor will build on the city’s current achievements and work together to continue making progress in growing the city’s economy and infrastructure.
“The city is experiencing a tremendous period of growth and development right now,” he said. “I want them to stay ahead of that and anticipate and plan for more — continue being proactive instead of reactive.”
Ohrt said he and his family have cultivated many friendships within Palestine and promised they wouldn’t be strangers.
“The city of Palestine and the community as a whole have blessed me and my family in so many ways,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough. It’s truly been an honor to work with the terrific staff. Palestine and everyone here will hold a special place in my heart.”