After 32 years of filling potholes, driving trucks, and keeping utilities flowing in Palestine, Public Works Director Tim Perry is retiring, effective July 26.
Starting with the city as a temporary maintenance worker, Perry, 54, worked his way up from the bottom. He headed the public works department since 2016.
“Tim Perry has been an enormous asset to the city of Palestine,” Mayor Steve Presley told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “Throughout his long career, he has saved the city untold millions of dollars with his creative and innovative ability to solve problems affecting our street, water, and sewer systems.
“He could stretch a dollar further than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
City Manager Leslie Cloer told the Herald Press the city might not fill Perry's vacant position this year.
“We are going to take a little time to evaluate staffing needs with the Public Works Department,” she said.
Meantime, Cloer said, Deputy Director Rob Thames will take charge of streets; Deputy Director Felipe Garcia will oversee utilities.
As public works director, Perry was one of the city's highest paid employees, earning more than $93,000 a year.
Perry made his career with the city the old-fashioned way, working his way from the bottom up. His numerous jobs in the Public Works Department included equipment operator, truck driver, streets foreman, streets superintendent, and interim public works director.
After several months as interim public works director, Perry was promoted to full-time director in July, 2016.
“Tim has been a tremendous asset to the city,” Cloer said. “He has a phenomenal amount of institutional knowledge that we will be losing.”
Palestine Economic Development Corporation Director Gayle Cooper told the Herald-Press that, in addition to being a fountain of public works information and skill, Perry was considered by many to be a big teddy-bear.
“We'll miss him,” she said. “With all the holes he's filled around here – it will take a while to fill the one he is leaving.”
Perry's retirement comes as the city grapples with multiple projects, including street repairs and a water treatment facility that does not comply with state standards.
Cloer said she hopes city residents will be patient during the transition in public works.
“We appreciate your patience as we lose an employee who has been involved in so many of the city's projects over his tenure with the city of Palestine,” she said.