Friday will mark the end of an era for the City of Nacogdoches.
On Monday the city council will meet to discuss appointing someone other than Jim Jeffers as city manager for the first time in almost two decades. While we are sad to see him go, Jeffers has earned his retirement.
“I liked what I saw,” Jeffers told the Sentinel when he was hired in 2003. “I liked the quality of life, and I look forward to having some small part in making it even better.”
Undeniably, Jeffers has played more than a small part in helping our city grow into the thriving community that it is today, but in his modesty he would never admit such an accomplishment. His vision has shaped Nacogdoches for 17 years and will continue to have far reaching impact beyond his retirement.
Mayor Shelley Brophy summed it up best.
“Nacogdoches is a better place because of Jim Jeffers,” she said. “His best qualities include ethical, financial, knowledgeable and dedicated leadership.”
We would have loved to speak to Jeffers about his long, illustrious career on Pilar Street, but in the kindest way possible, Jeffers declined our interview request months ago. That’s not to say Jeffers ever gave us the cold shoulder. He was a wealth of information, and always promptly answered or returned calls from Sentinel reporters.
As he would tell you, the story of Nacogdoches’ success is not about him but the diligent work of city staff.
True to his character, Jeffers also declined a retirement celebration and practically had to be dragged to the front of the council chambers this month for a photo of his last council meeting.
Jeffers is a oddity in the world of city managers because of his longevity. He spent about 20 years with Plainview before 17 years at Nacogdoches. The average length of stay for city managers is about 6.9 years, up from 5.4 years from the time Jeffers was hired. Some Texas cities change managers as often as some people get a haircut.
Because of the nature of the field, it is unlikely Nacogdoches will find another manger with such longevity. Whoever is appointed to take the position might be able to do the work, but they’ll never replace Jeffers.