By David Tuma, The Belton Journal
Former Mayor Charley Powell, Jr. passed away Friday. Powell was a community leader in Belton for decades. His vision for the future, ethics, courage are one of the reasons Belton is the place to live for any family looking to move to Bell County. Belton is booming now, but others laid a foundation long ago; Powell was one of those leaders.
Charley was a former Mayor of Belton, serving on the council from 1993 to1999, but he was way more than just the Mayor of Belton. The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and the City of Belton combined forces to build the entrance at 10th Ave., and UMHB trusted the City to keep up with the money. At the ribbon cutting Powell gave them change back in the form of a check at the opening ceremony. For years driving down Main Street you couldn’t see anything of UMHB. It took vision to make that a reality.
“Charley was a very active mayor. We would see him around city hall,” said former Belton Finance Director Cristy Daniell. “Dr. Baucom (UMHB President), Jeff Holderg (City Manager) and Powell had the vision to see what a difference the entrance at 10th Ave would make for our community. They had got it done. It changed the face of UMHB.
“People forget that while Powell was Mayor the council started saving money for the Hike and Bike Trail we see today along Nolan Creek. It wasn’t that easy putting aside funds, things were tight financially back then. So much of the infrastructure was planned for and installed during his administration. Without a doubt he was a good man, a steward of the City’s finances. He was always talking about his family.”
Charley and his wife Peggy moved to Belton 1962. It wasn’t long after that he made his presence felt by being awarded in 1965 as the Jaycee Young Man of the Year. Powell was one of the first community leaders along with Joe Pirtle to visit The Belton Journal after it changed ownership in 1996. He was out in the community, and he made it plain from the start, he cared.
“Charley had a long history of working for what he felt was best for Belton, not necessarily what was best for Charley. He won some and lost some, as all of us do when we offer ourselves for service to the public. The monitory pay is terrible, the hours are long, you lose some friends along the way, but in the long run, Belton Is a better place today because of Charley Powell,” said former Mayor Bill Holmes.
He was a member of the Belton Lions Club and served as Club President. There was a time when many community leaders were a member of the Lions Club and participated in the Lions Club Show held at the old Belton Junior High. Powell served as a board member for the Belton Independent School District from 1969-1975, and as president in 1975.
Power was also a member of the Board of Trustees for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He received a Distinguished Service Award from UMHB in 1995. The Belton Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Powell in 1994 as Man of the Year and Beltonian of the Year in 1999.
Powell helped fostered a sister city agreement between the City of Belton and Ebino, a city in Japan. He received an American Hometown Leadership award from the National Association of Towns and Townships in 1996.
“Charley Powell served in a variety of roles of influence in the Belton community during his life – Belton’s First Baptist Church, Belton Chamber of Commerce, Belton School Board, Belton City Council, and as Mayor of the City of Belton from 1993-1999. He will be remembered as a servant-leader who recognized the importance of faith, family, and community, and we were fortunate for his presence in our lives,” Belton City Manager Sam A. Listi.
When he retired from public service in September of 1999 he was quoted in a story that ran in the Journal: “It has been a pleasure working with each member of the council through the years. The time I spent as Mayor of this fine city were some of the most enjoyable years of my life.” He went on to predict that Belton would continue to prosper and continue to grow. From time to time he would stop by the Journal offices to give fatherly advice and direction, when needed.
“Charley was a big part of getting the football program started at UMHB. Over the past 20-years the football program has had a dramatic affect for us and the community,” said former UMHB President Dr. Jerry Baucom. “He helped work out an agreement so we could use Tiger Field all those years. When we worked together on the 10th Ave project it came under budget. We paid for it but they brought it in under the budget. You don’t see very many construction projects go under the budget. Charlie was instrumental in getting that project done. He also helped us with a major water project, made it possible. He made people feel good about themselves. He gave me good advice for all those years. It was just the way he was. Charley had a way of communicating, just a good man.”