Jones resigns as community development director

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 19, 2010

NATCHEZ — When Darlene Jones informed her son she was resigning as the City of Natchez’s community development director, he asked only one question.

“Mom, have you told your children?” Jones said, recounting her son’s question.

Since 2008, Jones has overseen the city’s YouthBuild program, which is designed to train and educate high school dropouts.

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On Friday, this year’s YouthBuild class threw a party for Jones, and presented her with a binder of their own inspirational poems.

“I have cried so much in the last few days,” Jones said. “I have learned a lot and I have grown a lot in these last few years, and I’ve grown really attached to (the class).”

Today, Jones begins work as student services coordinator at Alcorn State University Natchez Campus. Jones said the student services coordinator position was created to prevent students from traveling to Lorman to seek answers to questions regarding admissions, financial aid and other concerns.

“ASU needed to have an outlet for students enrolled at the Natchez campus,” Jones said. “There’s going to be a lot of cross training involved, but I’m up for the challenge, and I’m truly excited about it.”

Jones said she plans to maintain contact with the YouthBuild class.

“I know I’m not leaving YouthBuild. I will do volunteer work,” Jones said. “I’m still going to give to the community as much as I need to.

“Making a difference in someone’s life is what it’s all about, and I plan on seeing (the class) graduate and getting them enrolled at Alcorn,” Jones said.

Jones, who was hired as the city’s community development director in 2006, also coordinated the city’s Neighborhood Watch programs and the Mayor’s Youth Council, which exposes high school students to city and county government.

“My son is supposed to be on Mayor’s Youth Council this year, and when I told him I was leaving, he said, ‘You would leave when it’s time for me to start the Mayor’s Youth Council!’” Jones said.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience and I do thank the city for each and every chance I’ve had to make an impact on the community.”

Mayor Jake Middleton said it has not been decided if Jones’ position will be filled. Jones’ annual salary was $38,000.