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Celina's Citizen Of The Year

Article by Sharla Davenport

Photography by Holly Farrow

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

To have the nickname “Mr. Celina” is quite an honor, and Corbett Howard undoubtedly deserves that title. The former three-term mayor was recently named Citizen of the Year by the Celina Chamber of Commerce, appropriate for a man who has dedicated so much to Celina.  

Corbett Howard retired on June 15th as the Director of Business & Government Affairs. In addition, he was the Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation where he helped Celina gain key commercial development. Celina Lifestyle recently talked with the decorated Vietnam veteran to reflect on his time in Celina and his fondest memories. 

When did you come to Celina and what brought you here? 

In 1996, My business partner, Andy Harvey, and I bought 65 acres of land near Preston Road and FM 455.

We wanted it to be a part of the City of Celina from the beginning and built Preston 455, a large-lot residential community. We characterized it as “Country Living with City Convenience”.  

We built concrete streets with city water and wastewater, ultimately a first-class development that has stood the test of time. We wanted to be a part of this community, one that we would call home -- and have for over 24 years.

Tell us about one of your favorite memories during your service in Celina?

I have two standout milestones both of which required the mayor (me at the time) breaking a tie vote: The Pump Station #1 in 2002. This plant ultimately gave us water security for the city’s future buildout. I cannot imagine if this item did not pass! 

The second milestone, again with me as the tiebreaker, was the vote on Old Celina Park.  Since its opening in 2006 thousands of families and children have enjoyed a first-class park. Celina would not be the same without this fabulous park.

Tell us about someone who has inspired you in your life?

My Dad. Here is part of a letter I wrote to him in 1970 from Vietnam. It exemplifies the love I had for him and his influence on me.

“Happy Father’s Day, I am mindful that today is a day to recognize fathers and what they represent.  Of course, I know I have the greatest dad of all…I want you to know you’ve done a great job helping me become a man and I hope I can live up to your ideals.”  

What would you tell someone that is considering moving to Celina?

Our city is a place where we honor Faith, Family and Community.  We are not exclusive but inclusive. Celina is a place of entrepreneurs, characterized by J. Fred Smith, who built our square in 1911. It is a place of volunteerism, where people contribute to making our community better. It’s a place where we still pray in the square and where kids and families are loved in the schools, churches and city. 

What is your favorite thing to do in Celina? 

I love all of the incredible events on the Square but my favorite is the Homecoming Parade. This is Celina and I will always be a Bobcat.

You are retiring from the City of Celina and the EDC. What is next for you?

Last month, I became the Market President of Lamar National Bank officed in the Celina branch on Preston Road, fittingly near my first development. I promise to provide the same level of service that I gave to Celina as a public citizen. Now I will serve everyone’s banking needs in the private sector. 

I will continue to be involved with the town I love so much. I will never stop giving back.