08-10 rob thames-01

Deputy Director of Public Works Rob Thames. After almost a decade with the city, Thames is retiring, effective Aug. 16.

Another manager is leaving Palestine city government.

Deputy Public Works Director Rob Thames is retiring, effective Friday, Aug. 16, Thames told the Herald-Press Friday.

“I've been thinking about this for the past year,” Thames, 66, said. “With more years behind me than ahead, I'm going to raise cows and go fishing.”

Thames' retirement comes less than a month after his boss, former Public Works Director Tim Perry, retired, effective July 26.

Perry, who had worked for the city for more than 30 years, immediately started work as public works director for the city of Athens, 30 miles north of Palestine.

Of the three public works directors the city started the year with, only Deputy Director Felipe Garcia remains.

Thames leaves as the the city faces tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure repairs.

“I know they got a long road ahead of them,” Thames said. “I wish them nothing but the best. I just don't need the stress at my age.”

Left with pothole-pocked streets, century-old water pipes, and a water treatment facility that is not compliant with state standards, the loss of most of Palestine's public works leadership team will need immediate action, interim City Manager Leslie Cloer said.

“Finance Director Jim Mahoney and I are working on the organizational structure as we speak,” Cloer told the Herald-Press. “We will have the plan ready to announce Monday at city council.”

Thames, who started with the city nearly nine years ago, earned more $65,000 a year as deputy public works director.

Other key managers the city has recently lost include former City Manager Michael Hornes, who resigned in May to take a city management job in Live Oak, Texas, outside of San Antonio. Hornes, 39, left Palestine after about 18 months on the job.

Palestine Police Chief Andy Harvey remains on the job, but he's one of three finalists for the police chief's job in Palm Bay, Florida. Harvey, 49, has served in Palestine for just under two years.

Thames will take vacation time next week; he won't attend Monday's council meeting.

“I've briefed Deputy Director Felipe Garcia on everything I can think of,” Thames said. “I'm going to be fishing with my kids and grandkids, as my great-grandkids are running around.”