Natchez hires new city planner

Published 12:01 am Friday, February 29, 2008

NATCHEZ — For two months Natchez has been without a city planner, but not anymore.

Thursday afternoon the mayor formally offered the job to the current Pascagoula city planner John Lewis, which he accepted.

Mayor Phillip West gained approval from the board to do so Tuesday night during an executive session.

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Lewis is from the Tupelo area but has been working in Pascagoula for the last year.

In the past seven years he has also served as the planning division manager for the Department of Urban Development in Hattiesburg; the zoning administrator for Tupelo; the planning director for Hampton, Ga.; planning director for Hendersonville, Tenn. and the planning director for Gallatin, Tenn. Lewis has also worked in other positions in city government.

He received his bachelor of arts in economics and political science from the University of Mississippi.

He applied for the position of city planner for Natchez two and a half or three years ago but another candidate was chosen, West said.

West said this was because the board noticed that in a three or four year period, Lewis had changed jobs several times.

“(We) wanted someone who needed to be more stable,” West said. “It was not really anything against him.”

West said now, however, Lewis has shown great interest in being and staying in Natchez.

“One determining factor I recommended to the board is his expressed love for the city of Natchez,” West said. “He’s been in touch with the city for the past 44 years and he’d like to retire here and be in the city. That was very important in the decision.”

West said he is excited to have Lewis on board.

“He has a lot of experience and he has a lot of expertise,” West said. “I think because of his experience and expertise and because he served as city planner in Pascagoula and Hattiesburg he should serve us well, especially because he’s interested in being in the city because he cares a lot about the city.”

West said Lewis will start in three to four weeks.

“He was thrilled when I called him and offered him the job; very enthusiastic and appreciative,” West said.