The City of Kilgore’s new Special Events & Main Street Coordinator gets down to business Monday – and there’s a lot to do, Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck says.
He’s confident Sonya Trout is up to the challenge, taking the post with years of event management in Australia under her belt.
“There’s excitement in the transition of rebuilding Main Street as a local operation,” Selleck said. The city’s approach to the task has shifted since the downtown effort first took root here about three decades ago. “Now we’re getting to operate it as a facility within our overall program of work.”
On Selleck’s recommendation, Kilgore City Council members ‘froze’ the position of Main Street manager as a cost-saving measure in Fall 2015. The position remained in limbo throughout Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017, with Kilgore Planning & Zoning Director Carol Windham supervising Main Street efforts with the help of a volunteer advisory board.
For Fiscal Year 2018, Selleck urged and council members approved the funding of a new event coordinator post, allowing Windham to refocus on expanded P&Z efforts while ensuring Main Street momentum continues.
Under Trout, the city will still adhere to the facets of the state’s Main Street initiative, Selleck said, but the effort will be operated out of City Hall in a way custom-fit for this community.
“It goes along with branding the city council has asked us to do,” he said, “that Kilgore is a charming alternative to some of the larger suburbs of ours in the area.”
Following council approval of the FY2018 budget in September and the launch of the fiscal year Oct. 1, city officials posted the Special Events & Main Street Coordinator position and drew a healthy stack of resumes.
Vetting numerous local and out-of-town candidates and narrowing down the field of applicants, the city’s offer went to Trout late last month.
“We had a very good group of applications,” Selleck said. “We had three individuals make it to the finalists list, including one local person. All three of them had different types of experience with event management.
“It was a tough decision, but Sonya really stood out with her personal experience.”
Trout’s background includes seven years in professional event management following a Bachelor of International Hotel and Tourism Management (focused on event management) from the University of Queensland.
With dual citizenship in the United States and Australia, Trout spent most of her youth and professional career in Australia. She reaches Kilgore from Brisbane, Queensland (by way of Longview where her husband, too, has relocated for work).
Trout worked most recently as a senior event coordinator for Isuzu UTE Australia in Brisbane.
According to Selleck, “She exceeded our expectations of the type of candidates we would be able to attract.”