Heritage Department hires new director

Victoria Preservation Inc. and the Victoria County Heritage Department will soon be under new leadership.

Jeff Wright, 29, a Victoria native, is expected to begin a new role as director of the department and historical organization March 25.

"I love the community, and I have a great appreciation of the culture and history here," said Wright, a librarian at Victoria Public Library.

Wright said the new position creates a venue to preserve material, culture, documents - the heritage of the community.

"I want this to have a presence in the community, that people are aware of Victoria's story and the people who made Victoria," he said.

County Judge Don Pozzi and the commissioners court voted Monday on his hire.

A large part of Wright's responsibilities will be cataloguing, archiving and digitalizing the county's historic records, Pozzi said.

The goal is "to make these records available to the public for more access," he said.

Gary Dunnam, who previously served in both roles, retired in December after 28 combined years.

Since then, John Kisalus, Victoria Preservation Inc. board president, and the county had been looking for someone to fill the role.

Kisalus said Wright's background was outstanding.

"We're just glad that we found somebody with his qualifications and his level of enthusiasm toward historic preservation," Kisalus said.

Wright earned a Master of Library Science from the University of North Texas after earning a Bachelor of Arts in history with a public history certification from McMurry University in Abilene. He is an adult services librarian at Victoria Public Library and serves on the board of directors of Victoria County Genealogical Society.

Kisalus said he is impressed with Wright's library experience.

"His ability to organize information is something we really wanted to focus on going forward," Kisalus said. "We have a lot of information people have donated over the years: files, pictures, books, family history. We really need to catalog it all so anyone doing research could find it."

Kisalus said the goal is to build a new website where the digitized records can be located.

Wright said he is eager to get to work and hopes to make the extensive records more accessible to the public.

"I'm an organizer by nature," Wright said. "Whenever they took me through and showed me all the stuff, I just thought of all I can do with it."