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Vidalia city manager leaving job

VIDALIA — After six years working as the city planner for the City of Vidalia, Ken Walker will put in his last day today to pursue an opportunity across the country in Washington.

The decision to depart from the city on the move, Walker said, was made two weeks ago and based on family reasons.

“My whole life has been based upon my family and their needs, and that’s no longer needed here,” Walker said. “This is one of the most wonderful places in the South, but I’m moving to be closer to my brother.”

Working as a certified accountant for Silas Simmons before being hired as city manager in 2007, Walker said he chose the Miss-Lou because it was the closest place to Vicksburg that he could find a good job.

Walker was born in Memphis, Tenn., but was raised in Vicksburg, which was also where his father, Dr. Gene Walker, was living when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“For the first two years I was here, I commuted to Vicksburg almost every day to take care of him,” Walker said. “Once I was able to arrange more help for him and became more involved in the community, those visits lessened, and I chose to stay.”

And it wasn’t until his father took a turn for the worse a few weeks ago, Walker said, that the decision to move closer to his brother became clear.

“My father is no longer with me mentally, and he no longer needs my care,” Walker said. “I have no kids of my own, so my brother is my family right now.

“I’ve loved living in Vidalia, but this is strictly a family issue.”

The City of Sultan, Wash., is where Walker will soon call home soon, serving as the city planner.

“It’s a city very similar to Vidalia as far as population and being on the river,” Walker said. “I’m excited to pursue a new opportunity.”

Walker’s decision to leave Vidalia was one that Mayor Hyram Copeland said he hated to see, but also one he understood.

“We’ve had a lot of projects that have taken place in six years, the new municipal complex and recreation complex, and others we’re currently working on that Ken has been a huge part of,” Copeland said. “I hate to see him leave, but I understand the reasons he’s leaving.”

Leaving along with Walker, Copeland said, will be the position of city manager, which will be divided between several employees that worked under Walker.

“We’re going to split up the work Ken did and handle everything in-house through several of our staff,” Copeland said. “Ken trained these people to know everything he knew, so we’re going to move forward.

“But I am going to miss working with him.”