Conservation's Fifth Director Retires
the Eminence baseball team. In addition to getting personally involved in the community, he kept his workers focused on their job and donated time and equipment for community projects, such as stringing the town's Christmas lights.
"When they promoted me to Jefferson City," Presley said, "folks came up and said, 'We finally get someone we like and can get along with and they move you.'"
As Conservation Department director, Presley continued to maintain good public relations. "I've always tried to be a people's director," he said. "I accept a lot of invitations to go places and give talks at dedications and groundbreakings and things like that."
Conservation Department employees have long been aware of his friendly, easy-going manner. His office door has always been open to employees, and when workers see him in the hall, it's always "Hey, Jerry," not "Hello, Mr. Presley."
Presley said that when he was appointed director he told reporters that his number-one priority was to keep the support of the people and justify their passage of the 1976 conservation sales tax amendment.
"I'm not a visionary," Presley said, "although we have people with great vision within the Conservation Department. What I have done, during my time as director, is to keep the boat in the water and keep it from sinking."
But he also kept that ship moving steadily along. One of his priorities was long-range planning. The Conservation Department did not have a strategic plan when he became director and he quickly set about putting one in place. "It didn't come easy; we struggled with it," he said, "but we got it done. Now we know where we are going and how we are going to get there."
He also revived the idea for the Streams for the Future, which links the Conservation Department with river users and streamside landowners to protect and enhance our valuable waterways.
Presley considers himself first and foremost a team player. "I believe in it," he said. "We need a director, but we have such a wonderful group of people and leaders in the Conservation Department that this outfit is going to go forward - no matter what."
Why Retire? Why Now?
"I'll have close to 39 years in," Presley said. "That's a long time in any person's life, and I would like to retire while I still feel I have a lot of credibility with Department personnel, the