New BC manager follows winding course
Last updated 3/1/2022 at 6:59pm
The previous occupant's University of Texas Longhorns golf bag has been replaced by a Texas A&M diploma belonging to a man who used to be a golf pro.
Brent Walker's course to being the new city manager for the City of Bridge City has been full of doglegs and tricky reads.
But the Panhandle native who grew up on the grasslands beneath Kansas' Flint Hills, thinks he has found his sweet spot in Southeast Texas.
"I've really been looking for a place to call home and I like fishing and being outside," he said. "Bridge City has been great."
Walker is replacing Silsbee native Jerry Jones, who had worked for Bridge City for about two decades before recently retiring.
When hired by Bridge City in January, Walker was in his fourth year as assistant city manager in Dalhart, Texas, a city of 8,000 located near the borders of Oklahoma and New Mexico.
The five previous years, he served as Dalhart's finance director.
His parents were high school sweethearts in Dalhart, Walker said, and he has a large number of relatives there.
But his father was a preacher and the family moved around a lot until his father went to work at Manhattan Christian College in Manhattan, Kansas.
Walker spent most of his youth in what some call the Little Apple. He attended Kansas State and Manhattan Christian College.
"What I really wanted to be was a golf pro," he said.
And he was.
He was assistant pro and course superintendent, teaching golf lessons at the Thorncreek Golf Course outside of Denver, Colorado. He also worked with the First Tee program for junior golfers, which was run by Denver Parks & Rec.
But golf is not a year-round sport in Colorado, because of the weather.
Walker took a part-time job in banking with Wells Fargo.
Eventually, he became licensed to sell securities and worked for Wells Fargo for eight years, at stops from Texas to the East Coast.
When Wells Fargo and Wachovia banks merged, his bosses sent him on the road to teach Wachovia bankers "the Wells Fargo system."
A yearn for family brought Walker back to Dalhart to work for a small bank. The city's finance department found him there.
"A career has a mind of its own," he said.
Walker has a master's degree in public administration from Texas A&M, a certificate in public finance from Texas Tech and a Class C water license.
He's a member of the Texas City Management Association and is the current President of the Government Finance Officers Association of Texas.
Walker says windblown fires caused the big disasters in the Panhandle.
"We didn't have hurricanes," he said. "I'm not sure what six feet of water is like. It only rains about eight inches a year in West Texas.
"But the procedures, how you set up emergency management, is all the same thing. All cities are different, but there are a lot of similarities as well."
Walker says he like the way Orange County city managers work together.
"When COVID happened, and the federal money started coming in, they all called each other to figure out the best ways to deal with that."
The new city manager has been busy meeting city employees and familiarizing himself with city policies and ordinances.
"I know water wells are a big part of what we're looking at. Drainage is priority in the future, along with some of the infrastructure and some of the growth and developments lined up to come in."
Walker believes in being proactive.
"I want to put together a new master plan for the city," he said. "With the growth happening now and continuing to happen.
"Chevron Phillips coming in over the bridge could mean 500 jobs and 5,000 construction jobs and a lot of sales tax up and down Texas Avenue.
"Of course, that's a good problem to have."