SAN ANGELO, TX — Communications Director Anthony Wilson has been hired as the town manager of Belgrade, Maine. His final day with the City of San Angelo will be July 5.
Wilson joined the City in 2007 as its Civic Events manager, overseeing municipally owned venues such as Foster Communications Coliseum and the McNease Convention Center. He was named public information officer in 2012 and was promoted to communications director in December.
During his watch, the office won more than 60 local, state and national awards; programming on the City’s governmental access channel was revamped to reduce the number of meetings and increase original content; the City’s website was redesigned; its Facebook page grew to 30,000-plus followers; media coverage increased; audio-video equipment was modernized in the City Council chambers; and a TV studio was built and equipped. Next month, the office will pilot one of the City’s first two electric cars.
Wilson was a dogged public relations advocate for the City of San Angelo, often diving into social media comment threads on San Angelo LIVE! and Facebook to defend a City policy. He advocated for the everyday City worker, like the laborers at the City Water Department, who were often derided on social media for not fixing broken pipes fast enough.
Wilson made headlines when he opposed the publisher of San Angelo LIVE! over the secretive 2014 trash contract selection process. When media reports surfaced that Republic Services had overcharged commercial businesses in San Angelo over $6 million over a decade, Wilson could not deliver anything other than a draft audit the City conducted of Republic's alleged misconduct.
Houston journalist Wayne Dolcefino stuck a microphone in Wilson's face asking Wilson to produce the audit. Wilson just stood there, silent, earning him the nickname, "Crickets." We also called him the "Minister of Information" at times, but only jokingly. WATCH:
Wilson, not a potted flower plant, struck back at us and at Dolcefino, creating the first government-sanctioned attack video against a local news organization in San Angelo's history. WATCH:
We answered, too. WATCH:
Despite the turbulence during the trash saga of 2014, Wilson was committed to free and open government. He spearheaded the acquisition of equipment and developed the policies and procedures to televise and publish videos of practically every public meeting involving a government action by the City of San Angelo. His well-written press releases described City policies and events with clarity not seen in even larger cities. He proved to be an effective project manager in the re-launch of the City of San Angelo website, a resource where he succeeded in answering almost any question a citizen may have about City of San Angelo governance or services.
“It’s important San Angelo knows I love it, I love my job and I love serving our citizens,” Wilson said. “Our family is simply ready for a new landscape, a new lifestyle and a new adventure. Professionally, I’m also eager for a different challenge. Belgrade and New England offer us all that. Even so, we’ll be leaving a part of ourselves behind here.”
Belgrade is a town of about 3,200 residents in Central Maine. It is a popular summer vacation destination surrounded by seven lakes, including Great Pond, which inspired the setting for the Academy Award-winning movie “On Golden Pond.”
City Videographer Brian Groves will lead the Public Information Office until a replacement is named.
“I’m proud to have been a member of such a dedicated team of public servants,” Wilson said. “I stand in awe of my colleagues’ many varied talents and their commitment to serve their neighbors and to better their home. It’s been an honor to shine a light on their work and to tell their stories.”
Wilson joined the City after working in print journalism for two decades, including as managing editor of the Standard-Times. His peers elected him to serve as the treasurer of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers. He is scheduled to graduate with his master of public administration degree in May.
“Anthony has poured himself into making our Public Information Office one of the state’s best,” City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said. “It’s a testament to his and Brian’s partnership that they have built a structure and a culture that ensures our citizens can remain plugged into their local government. His ethic and genuine interest in good governance will serve Belgrade well.”
"Wilson is hyper-talented, smart, and a leader," said Joe Hyde, publisher of San Angelo LIVE! "He was agile and able to quickly leverage technology in addition to leverage his experience in journalism to better serve the citizens of San Angelo. The legacies of his accomplishments here as PIO for the City will serve this community well into the next decade."
From December to February, the temperatures in Belgrade, Maine hover below freezing, frequently dropping to 0 to 10 degrees F, according to WeatherSpark.