By Alicia Lacy

The Cove Herald

They walked a mile in another's shoes.

Friday morning, the City of Copperas Cove's department heads tried their hands at a new job for Department Head Switch Day.

City Manager Andrea Gardner said the idea derived from a team building exercise in September and the feedback from the exercise.

"It was born from the feedback on how jobs can be easier and how different departments work better collaboratively, and what better way than have them work in each other's jobs," she said. "It gives them a better understanding of what other department's deal with."

The "temporary" city manager, Greg Mitchell, who is the information systems director, switched roles with Gardner for the four hour switch.

As city manager, Mitchell had the opportunity to see firsthand how it feels to run a city.

"I don't know how Andrea does it," Mitchell said. "She's always running around and on the phone talking to people. I've been with the city for 10 years and Andrea is the best city manager I've seen."

Mitchell's position as information systems director requires him and the department to manage more than 250 of the city's desktops and laptops, all the networks and servers and the city Web site.

During her stint as fire chief, human resources director Kelli Sames had the opportunity to go out on calls, even observing a baby getting reunited with his mother after he was accidentally locked in a car.

"It's very educational for me. As human resources director, the interaction with employees is the interview and employee events, and today I got to focus on the operational side," Sames said.

"I think a full day would be good. I enjoyed it and it was beneficial to see the operational side."

Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young handled the task of being the city's director of financial services.

"I'm trying to find the money," he said. "The money is not where I thought it was."

Young said he learned more about finance just by talking with people in the finance department.

Wesley Wright's misconceptions about the library were abandoned after he spent four hours as the library director.

Wright, the city engineer said, "I'm amazed at how much more patience they have."

Wright said he was surprised by the number of new books available in the library and the traffic.

"I'm amazed at how much activity goes on in the library. They checked out 377 books yesterday," he said Friday.

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