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Thoughts on power, authority, opportunity and the fish that are waiting

Thoughts on power, authority, opportunity   and the fish that are waiting
Former La Vernia Mayor Harold Schott enjoys a cup of coffee while recounting his service to the citizens of La Vernia.

“There’s a lotta fish that have missed me over the last four years,” said Harold Schott, with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. “I’ll be doing some fishing at the coast, some hunting, and some more fishing!”

Now that he’s relinquished the reins as mayor to Robert Gregory, who was elected May 12, Schott will have more time to relax with his grandson, W.R.

“That little guy stole my heart,” Schott said. “He’s the only grandson I have. He makes my heart sing!”

Reflecting on his time as mayor and service as a city councilman, Schott points proudly to a “done pile” of more than 40 achievements with the city. These include negotiation of a new franchise agreement with Floresville Electric Light & Power Supply, sourcing a grant for a new municipal well, infrastructure improvements in the city, annexation of more than 240 acres, new personnel policies, a modified city sign ordinance, growth and new businesses in the city, and much more. One item that happened under his guidance he’s extremely proud of is a retirement plan for the city employees.

“This is the first time since the city’s been here,” Schott said.

The plan is something Schott believed in and fought to bring to fruition.

When he first joined the council in 1998 after bringing his family to La Vernia from Kirby for a better life, Charlene Clarner was the city secretary. Schott credits Clarner with mentoring him and other council members. She served the city from the early 1990s until January 2006, said current City Secretary-Treasurer Angela Cantu.

“She mentored me and tolerated me and educated me to be a better council person,” Schott said. “But she had no retirement nothing when she left. I felt that was a crime.”

Now La Vernia city employees have a retirement plan, through the Texas Municipal League.

“Every city employee is enrolled,” Schott said.

A former San Antonio Police Department officer who worked eight years undercover and retired after 33-1/2 years from the department, Schott said he has always tried to act with integrity and honesty.

“If you have power, authority, and the opportunity to make things better and you don’t, maybe you’re small potatoes,” he said. “If you don’t have honor and integrity, what else could you have?”

During his time on the council, he served under four mayors. He saw La Vernia starting to grow and new things coming, such as roads needing improvement, the water system needing work, drainage issues needing to be addressed, and more.

“I saw I could influence things to make them better,” Schott said. “I decided to take my shot at the helm and see where that would take us.”

That was 2008.

“It’s been a good ride,” he said. “I got a good staff. They made me shine, and I give them credit for the things that have gotten done around here.

“I wish we could’ve finished the water well project,” he said.

Schott is proud that H-E-B chose to open a store in La Vernia, and bring jobs and business to the community.

“I wanted to leave things better when I left than they were when I got here,” he said. “Thanks to the hardworking staff, I think we got there!”

He appreciates everyone who voted for him and helped him during his stint as a public servant.

“There are people I never knew before who helped me on my seven terms on the council,” he recalled. “I hope they feel I represented them well enough. I have hundreds of new friends. If you can’t help them, you tell them why, and we shake hands and stay friends.”

But the former mayor is looking forward to the next chapter in his life. He may, he said, apply to substitute teach.

“I wouldn’t mind doing that a few days a month,” he said.

Meanwhile, he’s looking forward to more time with his wife, Lucy, who will retire from the U.S. Marshal’s Service in 2014. They plan to build a new home next year.

And the former mayor and W.R. have some fish to catch and memories to make, and Schott is ready to spend some time with “Grampa’s fishin’ buddy”!

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