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After more than a decade of helping the city grow, Alton City Manager Jorge Arcaute announced his retirement earlier this week.
His retirement was announced at the Tuesday city council meeting and was made effective Thursday, Feb. 28.
“This was something I’ve been looking into for a couple of years and I can say the growth in the city has been very dramatic,” Arcaute said. “I’m getting a little less energy as the years go by and I think someone with a little bit more energy could do more with leading the city.”
Assistant City Manager Jeff Underwood, who also serves as the city’s planning and zoning director, was announced as the interim city manager Tuesday.
“He’s been here 5 years, the city would do well to lock him up for the long term,” Arcaute said of his successor.
As city manager, Arcaute was instrumental in bringing in new businesses to the city such as the Carl’s supermarket, McDonald’s and Stars restaurants and the city regional training center, all located alongside Alton Boulevard.
With this retirement, Arcaute will step away from his $100,000 salary. Before coming to Alton in 2007, he worked at the San Juan Police Department as a dispatcher in 1977 before working his way up to police chief and then was named city manager in 1995, he said.
“After 12 years there, I was thinking of retiring,” Arcaute, 61, said. “Then this offer from Alton came up. It was an interim position for six months that was made permanent. I fell in love with the city and I saw so much potential and the folks here treated me very well. It’s been a lot of good stuff here.”
Among the achievements Arcaute said he is most proud of include overseeing several departments in the city and staffing them with people Arcaute said he is proud to have worked with.
“We can point to things like road and sewer improvements but I think we’ve done a good job of developing the human infrastructure in the city,” Arcaute said. “We have a crew that can hang with anyone, are very diligent and hard working. If I’ve been responsible for anything here it’s changing the culture. The folks outside of town are now expecting more from the city and I’m glad.”
Both Arcaute and city Mayor Salvador Vela said Arcaute will likely continue serving the city as a consultant for Alton and make himself available for other cities.
“I kind of want to hang around and see what happens,” Arcaute said.
Underwood, whose role as interim city manager starts today, said the promotion will serve him well as he is already familiar with all of the city’s upcoming projects such as the expansion of the Josefa Garcia Memorial Park and the widening of Mile 5. However, the loss of Arcuate is bittersweet for him, he said.
“A good friend of mine and a great leader is leaving, but I’m excited,” Underwood said. “I’ve been here five years and have seen the city grow. Mr. Arcaute started a great thing with the commission and I want to keep that going.”