GUTHRIE — City Manager Sereniah Breland looks out from her office on the third floor of City Hall and brags about what she sees.
“Isn't it beautiful? I plan on staying here a while,” she said.
Breland, 35, started her job as city manager Oct. 22. She's looking forward to bringing new ideas to the state's first capital city while pulling from her diverse background and the experience of city employees.
“City employees have already been successful here,” she said. “There are progressive ideas here and workers with experience and expertise.”
Breland previously worked as city manager in Goliad, Texas. The municipality is billed as the third oldest in Texas and was settled by the Spanish in the 16th century.
She's worked in various other areas of city government, including as director of support services in Sugar Land, Texas, and recycling coordinator in Denton, Texas. She's also been a high school government teacher, worked at a library and been in charge of fleet operations.
She said she makes it a habit to walk the city's streets, frequent its shops and talk to residents. She wants to be a part of the city, connected to the people and working on their behalf,
“Our work is the closest level of government to the taxpayer,” she said. “I love the impact a city manager can make in a community with real projects that meet real needs.”
Some of her ideas would bring even more culture and camaraderie to the downtown area with festival and community gathering spots. She noted a recent Saturday where she was nearly too busy to keep up, with a downtown art walk, Alpaca show and wreath auction.
“People want to be able to do things in their community,” she said.
A major challenge in Guthrie, like other history-rich cities, is to maintain progress while keeping true to its past, she said.
“There is this constant struggle to keep historic preservation in line with growth and development,” Breland said. “We must integrate history and culture while moving ahead.”
Breland said priorities include neighborhood and downtown revitalization projects and finding community partners to expand recreational opportunities for Guthrie's youths.
“The question becomes how do we pay for these things without burdening the taxpayer,” Breland said. “How do we create revenues without burdening the individual?”
She said she'll work with the community to find partnerships and opportunities to enrich the community-centric city.
Breland said she's looking forward to working on solutions for the bridge over Cottonwood Creek connecting the east side of the city to the west. The 1930s-era viaduct is deteriorating, and the state Department of Transportation is working on plans to update it.
Breland took over the post vacated by Matt Mueller, who resigned in August. Mayor Chuck Burtcher said he's been impressed with Breland's passion.
“She has more energy than a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” he said.
Burtcher said the aging infrastructure of the city will be a challenge in the coming years, along with ways to fund projects.
“We have to fix things we should have fixed 50 years ago. ... I think she's up for that challenge,” he said.