Governor appoints former Marble Falls mayor to LCRA board of directors

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — Outgoing Mayor George Russell bids farewell to city officials and community leaders as he prepares for service on the Lower Colorado River Authority board of directors after an appointment by the governor pending the Texas Senate’s approval.

“That board covers the areas that are main entrance to the whole basin. I’ve worked quite a bit to get knowledge in most of the areas,” Russell said. “My whole involvement so far has been centered on water issues and water management. When I was in Georgetown, it was on electricity.”

Russell — a former city manager of Marble Falls and Georgetown — was elected mayor of Marble Falls in 2009 and served three terms.

Russell did not seek re-election in May 2015. His last day as mayor was May 19.

Incoming Mayor John Packer, a former city councilman and business owner, will replace him.

“John did not have an opponent, so he and I have been working together for the past month,” Russell said. “We just started handling some transition issues quickly.”

He reflected on his tenure as a city leader.

“Over the time I was there, there was so much going on so many issues such as the hospital, bridge and the flood (of 2007). The thing I’m going to miss the most is this community rallies around the good things; groups working together to get projects done.”

“That kind of camaraderie, I’m going to miss,” he added.

Marble Falls City Manager Mike Hodge said the city may lose Russell as mayor but gains an advocate at the state level on water issues.

“His leadership is still going to benefit the community. He is well-respected in the state,” Hodge said. “He will be a strong voice on the board to promote our interests and concerns.

“He will always be a resource for me,” he added. “I appreciate his mentorship in that area.”

The LCRA board is comprised of 15 directors who serve six-year terms and represent 10 counties in the lower Colorado River basin. The counties are Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Colorado, Fayette, Llano, Matagorda, San Saba, Travis and Wharton. Each county has one director with the exception of Travis, which has two, according to the LCRA website.

Russell serves on other boards as well including the Texas Tech Hill Country advisory board, Baylor-Scott & White Hospital-Marble Falls, the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center and the LCRA-appointed committee for the state water development plan.

His experience includes work with water plants, water conservations plans, water contracts and electric utilities.

“Water is the central hub of any economic development. If you have to provide it to business or the homes, whatever comes in, you’ve got to change your development process a little bit,” Russell said of his philosophy about water issues communities face. “It’s a key element in any economic development plan for a city.”

The state senate is expected to vote on Russell’s appointment May 28.

connie@thepicayune.com

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