By Kim Steele

Harker Heights Herald

Fred Morris recently left his job as Belton development services director after nine years because he wanted to be part of the action.

Morris, 51, was hired by Harker Heights to serve as director of planning and development. He began his new job Oct. 3, and is responsible for city planning, code enforcement, the building department and city maps.

Morris received his master's degree in planning from Texas A&M University in College Station.

"I came here because of the opportunity to contribute to the community," he said. "The city has plans to move Harker Heights forward over the next 15 to 20 years, and that's pretty exciting to me. I think it's going to be a good fit for both me and the city."

Morris said Harker Heights long has been considered a bedroom community because of its proximity to Fort Hood, but he would like to change that image.

Morris said the Market Heights shopping center and the addition of Seton Medical Center Harker Heights are changing the community's status in the region.

"Harker Heights is moving toward creating Harker Heights for Harker Heights," said Morris. "The city is in a position of self-determination and not having to rely on another community. Its citizens can say, 'Here's what we are about and you can come in and join us.' Harker Heights is a community of choice."

City Manager Steve Carpenter said he looks forward to working long term with Morris, who brings enthusiasm and experience to the job. Carpenter has managed the city for about 17 years and has seen it grow over the years. He also knows what it needs to move forward.

"For a long time, we've looked at where the city needs to be heading," said Carpenter. "We've done a lot over the last 15 years, but we've hit a plateau. Our focus groups are saying a lot of the same things, and now we need to put what we've learned into action. Fred will help with that."

Morris said he wants to be part of the city's progress and not just a "paper-pushing bureaucrat." He said he likes being involved in economic development because it is the basis for creating business opportunities and sustainable communities.

"What is sustainability?" he asked. "To me, it's having a healthy tax base, the highest quality development and a mix of land use that will support the city's population. It's not forcing people to drive 30 minutes to go to the store because there's nothing here. We need to create local."

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