The Port Arthur News
Seated in his office surrounded by plaques, photos and mementos of his decades of service to the city, Nederland Mayor Richard “Dick” Nugent is set for a busy morning.
Phone calls are made and items are jotted down on his desk calendar. Periodically Nugent looks up from his work to bid good morning to a passerby or city employee.
On his desk in a place of prominence is a statuette of an eagle featuring an inscription honoring Nugent for 40 years of service to the City of Nederland.
A retired lab technician with Texaco Research Lab, Nugent spent 16 years working for Jefferson County in a myriad of positions including emergency management coordinator and was first elected to city council in 1968. He held that position until 1988 then returned to council from 1996 through 2004. In 2004 he was elected mayor of the city.
“I guess I inherited it,” Nugent said of his drive to serve the community. “My dad was a councilman in Port Neches and later served as mayor in Port Neches.”
Nugent’s tenure has been notable; he oversaw three evacuations and two major hurricanes that devastated the area and subsequent recovery and saw the city’s boundaries grow. Looking back he picked three major incidents as highlights to his career in politics — hurricanes Rita and Ike, being named Mr. Nederland and the award for his 40 years of service to the city, he said.
He recalled the two week period following 2005’s Hurricane Rita where the area awaited aid. Generators were promised immediately after the storm but not received so when Nugent had a chance to meet former President George Bush he did not mince words. Nugent called out Gov. Rick Perry and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.
“I’ve pulled three evacuations since 2004 but I had the training,” he said.
City Clerk Gay Ferguson said Nugent is dedicated to the community and loves the city.
“He loves the people and he loves Nederland,” Ferguson said.
Nugent makes it a point to speak to citizens and return phone calls even if a person is calling with a complaint.
“I’ve never refused to take a phone call,” he said explaining that he will visit a person at their home if needed or have them come to his office to discuss issues. “I don’t pass anything off to others. I love this job.”
The city is preparing to construct a new city hall and will later renovate the current city hall, emergency operations center, police and fire station.
“I’m going to miss this,” Nugent said pointed out his office door toward a large hallway and desk where citizens pay their water bills. “I wave to people when they walk by and sometimes they’ll pop their head in and I always say hi. This is Nederland. That’s how we are.”