To the editor: dismissal on council agenda?

I am writing to clarify the public display of the disposition of my employment with the City of Henderson.

Recently, I have read in the Daily Dispatch that the Henderson City Council is discussing the termination of my position as their special projects manager. No one on the City Council has contacted me or discussed with me the ramifications or reasons behind their discussions, nor their ultimate decision to place my position on Monday night’s agenda for a council vote to terminate my employment. As far as I know, it is unprecedented that the dismissal of a City employee of my classification is done through Council vote and discussions held with the media present.

I joined the City of Henderson nearly eleven years ago as the Main Street Program Manager. My first duty was to manage the destruction and reconstruction of the sidewalks in the downtown area. That project provided me an opportunity to be a part of the downtown revitalization while meeting hundreds of people through an engraved paver program. Those pavers surround the crepe myrtle trees downtown and represent families, businesses, organizations and individuals, past and present. Through the Henderson-Vance Downtown Development Commission, I was commissioned to do all I could to market and bring people to the oldest retail and commercial district of our area. Together, we restored run-down buildings, we recruited new businesses, we created parades, cook-offs, and holiday events to bring the neighborhoods and businesses together.

While I was the Main Street Manager, the city was embarking on a visionary concept to continue their commitment to downtown revitalization by returning public buildings and commerce to the core of the community. The Embassy Block Project was created and I was asked by the City to develop and head-up a fund raising arm, led by volunteers, to raise money for a new public library and performance hall. The City and the newly formed Embassy Square Foundation worked together to design and develop the City’s vision, to purchase property, and ultimately raise money on the Federal, State, and local level. Our success is evident. All this was done with hundreds of volunteers and one full time city employee.

As the City funds became strategically narrow, the Embassy Square Foundation Board offered their assistance to the City to compensate my salary and benefits. Today, I am a City employee whose salary and benefits are reimbursed by the Foundation entirely.

I am reminded of the happy faces and good times at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Pork Meet, Christmas lights and hot chocolate downtown in the winter time. I am reminded of the murals painted behind the former ADP and Gupton’s Gun Shop. I think of businesses such as the Uptown Rose and the new Senior Center apartments that invested in the downtown area because of the vision of the Embassy Project. And, I think of the many trick-or-treaters building memories of good times in the historic district so that one day they too will adopt the downtown area as their own.

Now that the H. Leslie Perry Library and McGregor Hall Gallery are built, more people can gravitate to a once blighted area to these remarkable facilities that promise worldly exposure to everyone in our community and region. The dedication ceremony just a few weeks ago was an historic event and I had the pleasure of witnessing the bright faces and patient children as they respectfully listened to dignitaries and anxiously waited to preview their new buildings.

If you too have enjoyed these many things that I have been passionate about being a part of bringing to our community, perhaps you can come by the City Council chambers on Monday, June 12th at 7:00 pm and offer your support.

I have had, and continue to have the great pleasure of serving my community by being a part of preserving the past and protecting our future. I want to take this opportunity to thank the many volunteers, City elected officials and employees past and present, and in particular Embassy Square Foundation president, Sam Watkins, who all worked with me and taught me lessons on the importance of community history, business partnerships, and the true value of staying the course.

With deepest appreciation I remain,

Kathy Powell