Tenaha has a new mayor and his name is Orinthia Johnson. Johnson has been in office for just over a month, following his introduction to the community and swearing in at the last city council meeting in May. The meeting had an unusually large crowd as the community building meeting room was completely full.
“I guess they just wanted to be a part of history, the first black mayor in Tenaha,” said Johnson.
Many friends and family were in attendance for the event to welcome Johnson to his position as mayor of Tenaha.
“My favorite teacher was theirs too, Ms. Lita Harris. My other teacher, she couldn’t make it, Ms. Pauline Evans, those two were my mentors.”
Johnson, 43, grew up in Tenaha and was raised by his grandmother Mary Anne and Frank Johnson until he was 16. His other grandparents are Clyde and Talmidge Mitchell, and his parents are Bennie and William Mitchell.
He graduated from Tenaha high School in 1988, and he says that his favorite superintendent during his time at school was Doc Watson.
“Doc Watson’s my favorite – he was a real good man,” said Mayor Johnson.
After graduating from high school, Johnson attended Angelina College for two years.
He admits that there have been good and bad days in office so far, but he has goals for Tenaha that he would like to see come to fruition.
“My first plan is just clean up, make Tenaha look good and beautiful. Pick up trash and make sure the yards look good, and the houses look right. The second goal is to get companies to come in and create jobs for the people,” said Johnson ”Then the third goal is to get a park put in for the kids, so they can go out and play. The last goal is to get some kind of boys and girls community building so the kids can come inside, and stay out of trouble doing something.”
Johnson wants Tenaha to look like the beautiful town that he knows it can be and would like to see a new park added to Tenaha as an attraction for members of the community, as well as for visitors. There currently is a park in Tenaha, but Johnson feels that it would not be feasible to bring it back into functionality.
“There’s one that’s down in the quarters on Washington Drive, but that park is just un-saveable. I want to move the park up closer in town in case visitors drive through, [where] they can see that park, [and if] they want to, stop and get some rest so they can walk around and let the kids play,” said Johnson.
Mayor Johnson has received plenty of support, and guidance from council members helping him in his transition to Tenaha mayor.
“Mark (Hixson) has guided me, and I thank him for guiding me and teaching me. He’s a real big help, and Durande Steadman. I have a good council, I really think I have the best council,” said Johnson. “Ms. Doyce Bailey and the staff, they really help me out a lot. The city workers are [working really hard] every day fixing leaks.
Mayor Johnson also said that he is very proud of the Tenaha City Marshal’s Office
“They are doing an excellent job, you couldn’t ask for better law enforcement.”
The new mayor of Tenaha is looking forward to change and new growth in the City of Tenaha during his tenure as mayor.