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City community development department retiring three
The city of Porterville today is losing more than 80 years of combined experience with the retirement of three of its community development department employees.
Susan Duke, Denise Marchant and Linda Wammack worked tirelessly to bring numerous projects to fruition during their time at City Hall, and cultivated close ties in the process.
“They’re extraordinary individuals that cared very much about what they did and about seeing the city moving forward and improving,” Porterville City Manager John Lollis said.
“They were very dedicated and did their job at a very high level.”
Lollis, who knew the women for roughly six years, said each was an expert in their respective fields.
Duke began her career with the city in 1977 as a secretary for the finance department and is retiring as project manager.
Lollis described Duke as “the quiet, more behind-the-scenes individual”.
Some of Duke’s noted works as project manager include the Casas Buena Vista common area project, construction of the Porterville Transit Center and the amendment to the city’s redevelopment project area.
Duke said one of the highlights of her career was when the city received the Helen Putnam Award of Excellence, a program established by the League of California Cities that recognizes outstanding achievements by the state’s 482 cities. Porterville received the award in 2006 for its Orange Avenue area revitalization project, which involved acquiring funding from 13 different local, state, federal and private sources to build Santa Fe Elementary School, the Heritage Center, reconstruct Orange Avenue, complete Casas Buena Vista, a stalled subdivision, and provide new affordable housing choices. Marchant said Duke was instrumental in the right-of-way acquisition for the development of a common area that would later provide open space and a recreation area for the residents at Casas Buena Vista.
Duke said she will miss working for the city in general, but will miss working for the community development department even more.
“We have a very tight-knit department, that’s what I think I’ll miss most,” she said.
Duke said she plans to spend quality time with her two grandsons, take up gardening and do plenty of volunteer work upon her retirement.
Wammack began her career with the city in 1988 as a clerical assistant in the refuse department and is retiring as development associate.
As such, she was charged with promoting business opportunities for business attraction, expansion and retention and served as project liaison for large projects.
Lollis said Wammack played an instrumental role in the application process to have Tulare County designated as an Enterprise Zone and in making sure local businesses took advantage of the program, which offers businesses a number of incentives designed to increase local job growth.
Wammack said she will also miss the people she worked with and the process of seeing projects materialize.
“It’s always exciting to see the projects from their infancy to when they’re opening, even if it takes years and years and years,” she said.
Wammack also plans to spend more time with her family, including her two granddaughters, travel a little and do a lot more volunteer work.
Marchant began working for the city in 1991 as a development associate and is retiring under the same title.
She was charged with writing and administering housing grants, for which the city has been awarded millions of dollars over the past several years. Marchant also serves on the executive committee of the Kings/Tulare Continuum of Care on Homelessness, a consortium of agencies working toward preventing and ending homelessness in the region.
Lollis said Marchant is a recognized expert in the world of state housing and said her passion for downtown and for Porterville in general is extraordinary.
Marchant said one of the most successful projects she was involved in was the development of the Casas Buena Vista subdivision. If she wasn’t retiring, the demolition of the run-down Porterville Hotel would also be among them.
“It’s really all lumped together,” Marchant said about the projects she was particularly proud of. “I always felt so fortunate to have a job that I was really helping people and that I was being paid to do.”
Marchant said she plans to spend time with family and to continue her volunteer work for the Zonta Club, Mural Committee and the local Habitat for Humanity group.
Jenni Byers is replacing Duke, Lupe Diaz is replacing Marchant, and replacing Wammack is Jason Ridenour.
All three have advice for their successors.
“Be patient. Try not to get uptight about things and be able to work through them,” Marchant said.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help because everyone in the city organization is willing to help you,” Wammack said.
“Attend council meetings, because they’re very informative and it really helps your department head,” Duke said.
*Howard Muzuki, administrative analyst for the community development department also retired this year, after 18 years of service. Susan Hartman, the city's purchasing agent, is also set to retire after 20 years of working for the city.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.