Linda Lowes retires from city after 30 years of service
SIKESTON - After thirty years of diligent service, Linda Lowes is turning the page in her professional life as Director of Governmental Services for the city of Sikeston.
For this respected lady, as for many, retirement is bittersweet. Lowes looks toward the future with a clear plan of how she will continue to serve her adopted city, with a misty-eyed recollection of her years in city government.
Lowes and her husband, Kenneth, had recently made Sikeston their home when she started working as office manager for James Stallings CPA in 1979. "Working in an accountants office taught me the importance of organizing, scheduling and diligence," said Lowes. "Those are the most important skills to being successful in this job, and I learned them when I was young working on time sensitive tax filings."
She also made a rewarding impression on a co-worker. Carroll Couch had also worked in the accountants office, and recognized her intelligence and diligence.
Couch was hired to be city clerk in February 1987, and brought Lowes into the city government in September of 1987. "From working with her in Stallings office, I knew she was organized and a diligent worker," said Couch."Linda was hired to fill a recently vacated position of purchasing and personnel officer."
Lowes spent a few years as purchasing and personnel officer and was promoted to her present position as Director of Governmental Services in 1991.
"Sikeston faced some critical challenges at that time because the downtown needed revamping, and getting money for projects is never easy."
The decision to hire Lowes literally helped to change the face of the community. "I am proud to have been a part of the community wide effort to improve downtown Sikeston," said Lowes.
"In the early 90's, downtown Sikeston had too many vacant buildings, and the whole downtown seemed economically depressed," Lowes explained. "We had to change directions and breathe life into downtown Sikeston."
The Dream Program was a state wide effort to revitalize the downtown areas of mid-sized communities. A study of Sikeston was conducted to determine what we might do to reshape the downtown.
Historic Downtown Sikeston was created during this time. "The Depot had been remodeled previously, and period street lights were installed. The asphalt over the cobblestone streets was removed to showcase the downtown and its history," said Lowes.
"My job included being Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and we wanted the downtown to reflect our history," added Lowes. Lowes worked with Chamber of Commerce and the Sikeston City Council and wrote the original grant requests for Historic Downtown Sikeston.
"Downtown Sikeston is bustling with activity, with so many people who work in this area," said Lowes. "We now have a shortage of available space for potential stores and restaurants who would like to invest in this area."
The new Board of Municipal Utilities building and the new Department of Public Safety building were designed to add character to our downtown. "Those buildings show tradition and add beauty to the downtown," said Lowes.
It is no coincidence that Lowes has a flair for style. "While I was in college at SEMO, I worked in the art department for the Southeast Missourian, and when my husband and I first moved to Sikeston, I worked in the art department for the Standard Democrat."
Visitors to Sikeston see tangible signs of Lowes works, as she participated in the Way Finding Project. Entering Sikeston from any direction, travelers are now greeted with road signs for directions to Historic Downtown Sikeston and the Sikeston Rodeo to name a few. "The Way Finding Project was a signage program. We worked with MoDot, the contractors and other members of Sikeston government to place attractive signs to guide visitors through our town."
Lowes last few weeks are being spent characteristically planning for those who will assume her responsibilities. "I hope to make my retirement a seam-less event for the city," said Lowes.
"Rhonda Council is going to undertake some of my administrative duties as public information officer, such as preparing city council packets, posting agendas and meeting minutes," added Lowes. "We are negotiating with the Chamber to assume the marketing and promotion of the city."
Lowes retirement plans reveal her affection for Sikeston and mirror her professional life. "I will serve on the Board of Historic Downtown Sikeston, act as citizen representative on the Depot Board, and volunteer for the Veterans of Foreign Wars."
Lowes grew up in a military family and helping the VFW honors her father's service as a combat engineer for the US Army during the Korean Conflict. "We lived in Virginia when I was young, and dad didn't actually get deployed to Korea during that war. He built golf courses for the military," smiled Lowes, as she recalled her father.
Her family moved to the Jackson and Oak Ridge, Missouri areas where she grew up. Lowes graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in administrative management, and after marriage moved to Sikeston.
"Sikeston is home," Lowes said. A rewarding career and building a family in Sikeston have instilled a deep affection for her home town. The Lowes have two sons. Her son, Justin works at BMU, and son Daniel lives in Columbia with his wife and two kids.
Lowes last day on the job is June 30. As is her custom, Lowes' last day is already planned.
"I will work until noon."