For many employees, commuting to work is a dreaded daily routine. But Wendy Smith said she enjoys the beauty of driving toward Comanche Trail and looking across Lake Travis as she heads into her new job as the first full-time manager of Village of The Hills.
Smith administers the municipality's operations from its Lake Travis-area office.[/caption]
Smith joined the small municipality Jan. 9, bringing with her 20 years of city government experience.
“It’s just different than what I’ve done before, and I’m interested in the challenge that lies in that,” said Smith, who previously served as the city manager of Edinburg, Texas, and the assistant city manager of McAllen, Texas.
This is her fourth time to live in the Austin area, but with her father in town, Smith said it feels like home. She resides in Austin proper, and her 16-year-old daughter attends Anderson High School.
The Hills is home to about 2,500 people and 1,100 homes. It operates using Texas statutes as a general law city as opposed to a home rule municipality that receives its guidance from a charter and local government. Instead, The Hills has a board of aldermen with priorities that direct its city administrators.
The Hills began as a retirement community, but it has grown into a more diverse population with families and an emphasis on supporting children through a newly formed youth commission.
The Youth Advisory Council is a newer initiative that aims to engage students in the city government process.
“We hope that we put these young people in a pipeline to become future leaders,” Smith said.
One of the first community events Smith said she attended was a volunteer appreciation dinner honoring 72 local volunteers for their work between the village and the property owners association.
The Village of The Hills houses the Hills Country Club and golf course.[/caption]
“I am still shocked," she said of the community support. "It’s a very solid base of support from all aspects.
Parks and hike and bike trails are important to the village, and as a cyclist and runner, Smith said she appreciates the emphasis for creating safe parks that improve quality of life for the community.
“It’s a beautiful place and a well-maintained community, but it’s the people who really drew me here,” Smith said