Click here to see the city’s progress report from 2008-2018.
By Denise DuBois
Looking back over the last 10 years, it’s easy to see the accomplishments of Phenix City leadership. When Wallace Hunter became the city manager in 2008, he had a mandate to succeed.
“I didn’t take over a job where there was a lot of money in the budget. All odds were against succeeding, but not in my mind. From there we just had to pray over it and for people to understand which way we were moving,” Hunter said. “We got grants and had the backing of the council to get revenue to restructure. And we’ve never looked back.”
Some of the accomplishments Hunter notes include: Troy University’s river front campus and the Marriot hotel, Riverchase Drive interchange, Broad Street and Whitewater Avenue streetscapes, improvements at Garrett-Harrison Stadium, College Drive developments, gateway signage, indoor batting facility and improvements to parks all over the city, riverwalk entertainment, 5th Street South Youth Center, Library improvements, Idle Hour Community Center, bridge replacements, parking garage, Phenix City Plaza improvements, added police precincts, Neighborhood Walmart, Rock Island Ridges Apartments, retail developments, street resurfacing, and many budget updates.
Aside from some of the development accomplishments, Hunter said one of his first goals was to get different city departments to work together.
“Those departments were going to work together to achieve goals,” he said. “They will understand each other. One of my most successful things with daily operations is to get departments to work together and like each other and understand each other. They have.”
Hunter has been part of the city for more than 30 years. He was raised by parents from Fort Mitchell, but was born in Chicago. Because his parents loved the south, Hunter spent time with his grandparents in Russell County and eventually spent more time here than in Chicago.
“I came from parents who had great work ethics, and they were always good community people,” he said. That work ethic was passed down to Hunter. Always having multiple jobs, Hunter eventually found an opening with the city fire department in 1986. He held every position with the fire department before transitioning into the assistant city manager position.
“As you branch off in the fire department, you get to learn about the management part and the departments you have to engage with. I was able to do special assignments for city managers. I was able to go to city managers meeting as the fire chief. A lot of people ask how I became the city manager because I was the fire chief. I learned about budgets and what it takes to run a city,” Hunter said.
The most rewarding thing he has seen is local development.
“I’ve been able to now see the development of the city and the potential for the city. I’ve seen people achieve goals,” he said.
Because of his longevity with the city, he said he also gets to see the grandkids of people he used to work for working with the city now.
For more information and to see the 10-year before and after report, visit citizenofeastalabama.com.