City of Vidor moves on without city manager

When longtime Vidor City Manager Ricky Jorgensen decided to call it quits sometime in February, he said he was giving the Vidor City Council a one-month notice to find his replacement. Although he didn’t officially turn in a letter of resignation until March 8 with a last day named as March 9, Jorgensen said city leaders knew of his intentions well in advance.

Over the past seven years, Jorgensen has seen the small city expand in many ways, he said prior to his departure. Among the developments his memory invoked from his time as the city’s leader was the Walk of Fame, Veteran’s Memorial Park, annexations that made the city larger in both land and tax base, advances in planning and zoning for the normally free-range territory, an $11-plus million City Hall, and the passage of two voter-backed propositions that now allow alcohol sales in the once semi-dry city.

“Any city manager wants to go to a city and improve the quality of life there,” Jorgensen said. “And that’s what I try to do.”But even with just a few days left with the city of Vidor, Jorgensen added it wasn’t always easy being in his seat.

“There were a lot of decisions made that I had nothing to do with, that I didn’t necessarily agree with,” he said. “I did what I was told to do. I work at the pleasure of the council and the mayor, and that isn’t always easy.”

In 2011, Jorgensen’s employment was under constant scrutiny in executive sessions held by Vidor’s elected leaders month after month, but in the end, the governmental body decided to keep its longtime city administrator. Still, Jorgensen was looking for a post less contentious. While on the Texas Municipal League (TML) Web site, he said, Jorgensen happened upon a listing for an opening as city manager of Giddings, Texas. Jorgensen said he felt a good connection with the Giddings City Council and has now made steps to make the small city his new home.

Before his departure, Jorgensen put his career in Vidor to rest by posting advertising for the Vidor city manager job on the TML and TMA (Texas Managers Association) Web sites. No submissions have been submitted or reviewed for the posting as of yet, Vidor City Secretary Rhonda Haskins said.

“When you lose someone like that, it takes a while to get back to normal,” Haskins said on word her boss was resigning. “We’ll have a new boss, but we have no idea who.”

Haskins said Tuesday, March 13, that the city still hadn’t decided on how to fill Jorgensen’s vacant post on a more permanent basis or what the pay will be for the person selected to fill the position. In the meantime, however, city finance director Lorrie Taylor will be filling in as interim city manager. According to Haskins, Taylor will be receiving an additional $1,500 per month for the added responsibility.

Jennifer Johnson can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 231, or at jennifer [at] theexaminer [dot] com.