For more than a decade, Danielle Felts has worked tirelessly for the City of Weatherford.
But come Friday, Feb. 21, the Director of Parks, Recreation and Special Events is calling it quits as she makes plans to enjoy some of the very things she’s been involved with for so many years.
“After working with local veterans groups to develop an amazing concept plan for a Veterans Memorial at Soldier Spring Park and partnering with local non-profit groups to expand the quality of life for our youngest and our more experienced residents, I now plan to take an opportunity to enjoy it,” Felts said. “I’ve worked hard to revive one of our community’s oldest traditions, reinstating a program that honors our historic downtown, while creating new events to encourage people to experience our the beauty and originality of our community.”
That also includes laying the ground work for future projects such as a dog park, inclusive play system, amphitheater, heritage plaza and more.
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“After all, Winston Churchill said it best, ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give,’” she added.
Her career with the city began when she was hired by former City Manager George Campbell in 2004 as Executive Assistant to the City Manager.
After working exclusively for Campbell for two years, he hired the city’s first ever Assistant City Manager, Jennifer Fadden, who Felts was assigned to assist as well.
“As I have a degree in communications and marketing, and Jennifer was directly in charge of community relations, the majority of my time quickly became assisting with the website, print media for items such as bond elections, and publishing Hometown Weatherford, the first ever City of Weatherford direct mail publication,” Felts said.
It was in 2006, shortly after Fadden arrived, that Campbell left and long-time Director of Finance Bill Davis was appointed as City Manager. Unfortunately, due to a tragic accident, Davis was forced into retirement and Fadden took on the role of City Manager.
“With her plate full, and in light of the positive feedback in regards to the new communication efforts, Jennifer created the position of Community Relations Manager,” Felts recalled. “In July 2008, I interviewed, competed for and was awarded the position of Community Relations Manager.”
Felts said during that time there were many twists and turns throughout the economy and within the organization, and she was asked to pick up the additional task of Main Street Manager. In addition, with the retirement of Kathy Mosby in January 2010, she was asked to serve as Interim Director of Parks and Recreation.
“I was asked to also serve as the Interim Director of Parks and Recreation,” she added. “After two years of an extremely full plate, I was afforded the opportunity to choose my area of focus. Though communications is my passion, the city had not yet created a budget for communications outside of the one position, so I made the choice to focus on Parks and Recreation.
“I had also gained a tremendous amount of respect for the department and the employees within it and was excited about the opportunities ahead.”
She said there has been no real memorable moment because every moment is worth remembering.
“I would have to say that every moment was worth a memory or two because every moment meant something to me personally,” she said. “I never ventured into this career to achieve ‘rock-star’ status or have my name forever etched on a building; I am a public servant at heart, that’s just who I am. The way I see it, I was fortunate to earn a salary serving my community.”
During her time at the city, Felts would say she gained the true understanding of what it meant to have a servant’s heart.
“Every single day I came to work I was given the opportunity to build character, my own and that of the community, and I embraced that,” she said. “Working for the City of Weatherford, I learned what being a true public servant was all about. I earned a respect and understanding of public service that forever changed how I move through life, both professionally and personally.”
She said it allowed her the opportunity to give back to the community that, like she likes to say, “built her.”
“I was able to pay respect to the four generations of my family proceeding me who made this community their home, while enhancing the quality of life for my current family, and the many future generations to come,” Felts said. “The friendships made and bonds created with some of my peers during my time with the City will forever be cherished; without the support and encouragement of those individuals, the journey would not have been the same.”
City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said Felts has done an “outstanding job” with every task she has undertaken for this city.
“Her dedication, energy and enthusiasm served as an example for all others to follow,” Blaisdell said. “ She was a go-to person when there was challenging or difficult tasks that needed to be accomplished. She will be greatly missed and difficult to replace. I wish her well and know that she will excellence in her new endeavor.”
Felts said throughout her tenure with the City, it was always important to her, no matter how contentious the room or the situation was, that she remained focused on the task at hand and worked in the best interests for the City of Weatherford as a whole.
“Of course, that was rarely the easy road to travel, but I have never been known for taking the easy road,” Felts said.
“Throughout my tenure I learned that it is human nature to be fearful of change, unless you have a hand in it. Therefore, I spent a lot of time creating community initiatives and events that bring people together.”
She said she worked to get community residents involved and excited about projects and opportunities. With every project, no matter how big or small, she always took the approach of developing a positive, distinctive image for the community that would ultimately increase spirit and pride among every resident.
“Ultimately, spirit and pride lead to civic involvement and engagement and involved citizens help create a healthy social and economic wealth for the community,” she said. “So, it essentially comes full circle.”