Along with welcoming a new mayor this summer, the City of Leesville also will be welcoming a new city administrator as DeLain Prewitt bids a bittersweet farewell to city hall.


Along with welcoming a new mayor this summer, the City of Leesville also will be welcoming a new city administrator as DeLain Prewitt bids a bittersweet farewell to city hall.
Prewitt, who worked for the city for the past 40 years, looks back on her time spent with the city and recalls the early beginnings of the city so dear to her.
"I remember when I first began working as the city clerk back in the early 70s, it was just I and one other lady handling the office and we we worked out of a tiny office in what is now the VA building," Prewitt recalls.
Shortly after, the sales tax for the city was passed and the office was moved into the same building as the fire department located near what is now Labby Memorial Funeral Home. "We shared that building with the fire department and held our council meetings and everything there until 1973 when we moved into the current city hall building," she said.
Prewitt was born and raised in Leesville and attended Northwestern State University before marrying and moving to Texas for a short time. After returning to her hometown, she admits to being surprised when she received a call from an old friend, Robert Pynes, requested her to work for the city. "Robert was the finance director at the time, and he and I were good friends so he called me up one day and asked me if I would be interested in the position."
Prewitt took the job, and just like her position as city administrator, it was one she never actually applied for.
"Like in many situations, a previous administrator left the position and so I was just filling in until we found a permanent replacement," Prewitt explained. "Then Mayor Shapkoff took over as mayor and that administration just asked me to stay in as administrator and I did."
Throughout her 40 years of working, Prewitt worked under seven different mayoral administrations and countless city council members, and her experience soon dubbed her the "go to" person for matters even out of her department.
"I guess because I had been there so long and so many people knew who I was that I got calls for just about everything," she said. "Sometimes a person in another department wouldn't be sure how to handle a situation, but many residents would just call me directly."
Being approachable by the public was one of Prewitt's great strengths, and one that endeared her to so many. "Sometimes people just need to talk about their problems and have someone listen to them, whether it be about their water bill or their street. I wasn't always able to give them the results they wanted, but I tried to serve them as best I could because that is what my job was about."
Being there for the people is also one of the greatest parts of her job that Prewitt said she will miss the most. "I am sad to be leaving the people. Over the years I developed a relationship with many of them and I am very humbled and thankful for those years," she said.
Prewitt will also miss the council members that she has worked with for the past few years, as well as those who left the city before she did. Those sentiments were returned to her during the May 10 meeting upon her retirement announcement.
"We will miss you, but we wish you all the luck in the world and lots of success in the future," Council woman-at-large, Alice Guess said to Prewitt.
Councilman Mike Elliott acknowledged his long working relationship with Prewitt as he also wished her a fond goodbye. "I have been with you for five terms, and I am sad to see you go. I do wish you the best of luck and we will always love you."
Mayor Betty Westerchil echoed those same sentiments as she considered a future without Prewitt's presence. "It's going to be odd to see that office empty," she said.
After the council meeting, Westerchil had only more kind words to say about Prewitt's exit. "Miss Prewitt will take with her unlimited experience and a pool of city history that is unmatched. We shall certainly miss her wealth of knowledge, calm manner and efficiency and we wish her well."
Kelly Coker will step in to fill Prewitt's position until Mayor-elect Robert Rose's administration appoints a new city administrator, and with nothing but time on her hands now Prewitt is contemplating what she may do with all her spare time.
"I've always been a busy person, that's just my personality," Prewitt said. "Now I am going to focus on being there for my family and spending time with them."
Prewitt is also still on the Mayor's Women's Commission, and she hopes to use her time to benefit that group in the future, but for now she is content to look back on the many accomplishments and improvements in the City of Leesville that she was able to be a part of.
"There were high points in each administration that I worked for, including the year that we received the clean city award for our district. That is something I am very proud of. All of the women and city employees worked very hard for that," she said.
Prewitt also recalled the opening of the city's airport, and the recent building of the recreational pool.
"That was a project begun by Mayor Shapkoff and then finished by Mayor Westerchil, and I was glad to get to be there to see the plan and idea come to fruition."
She will also remember some of the advances made in the city hall itself, including a few humurous memories such as the city's first computer.
"I remember when we got our first computer. It filled the room it was so enormous, but it did make things easier. Before I would have to bring stacks of payroll checks home to sign individually, and my son even remembers watching me do that when he was small. Now things like that happen much faster."
In looking back at some of the memories, Prewitt said that she would not trade her years at city hall and is thankful for the lessons and relationships they brought her.
"It has been a wonderful 40 years. Leaving is something that I just felt it was time for, but I will miss it. I plan on remaining friends with those I worked with, and I just want to thank everyone for allowing me to serve for so long."
She leaves the position worry-free, though, and as a Leesville resident she feels confident that the city will be in good hands with its incoming administration. "I feel that this is an exciting time for the city. I think that Mayor-elect Rose has some good things planned and I wish him and the council all the best. Now, I'm just excited to see what the future holds for me. I have always believed that God has a plan for our lives and I'm ready to see what he has in store for me now."