Retirement parties for two Clarksdale department heads who each have worked for the city for more than 30 years each are planned for later in the week.
Public Works Director Todd Jones has worked for the city 32 years and his retirement party will be noon Thursday at the Clarksdale Civic Auditorium. He has been the department head for approximately half of those years.
City Clerk Cathy Clark has worked for the city 34 years and her retirement party will be 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the fire station next to the auditorium. She has been the city clerk for more than 21 years.
City officials acknowledged Jones’ and Clark’s retirement during the Board of Mayor and Commissioners meeting on Monday.
The board voted to promote Craig Amerson to acting Public Works Director and Laketha Covington to acting City Clerk. The board also voted to order a signature plate for Covington and put her on the signature card at First National Bank.
Clark was present at Monday’s meeting and the four commissioners expressed their gratitude toward her.
“Cathy, thank you for all that you’ve done for this city and, I personally just want to say, thanks for taking me under your wing,” said Ward 2 Commissioner Ken Murphey. “I started coming to these board meetings and I thought I knew everything and it was real quick to change. I would get up to speak and say you’ve got to run it like a business, this is what you need to be doing. Then I decided to run for office and I found out it didn’t work like that and you just didn’t snap your fingers and things got done. Cathy, to this day, still reminds me that, remember I was going to come in here and change the world? Government moves slowly. There’s been a lot of things that have been done since I have been here.
“I just want to say thanks to the best person I’ve ever worked with and one of my best friends. I just want to say thank you for getting me through this last 10 years.” family recently purchased a goat “I said, well, that house already had a goat.’ She said, ‘What are you talking about?’ I said, ‘You.’ She was offended. I said, ‘No, you don’t get it. It’s the greatest of all time.’ That’s what Cathy Clark is to this city, the greatest of all time. Love you, Cathy.”
Ward 1 Commissioner Bo Plunk said he has been in office for 14 years.
“Lord knows I’ve put you through the ringer,” said Plunk to Clark. “But I think you teach us all up here how to be professional, how to handle the city business., how to conduct it.This city does owe you a great lot.”
Plunk reflected on how Clark succeeded Sylvia Burton and became City Clerk and when former Mayor Henry Espy took office. He added Ward 4 Commissioner Ed Seals has worked with Clark for a long time and knows her better than many people.
While Clark will be retired, she plans to come back on a part-time basis and finish projects she started.
“It has been a pleasure to work with you and thank God you are going to come back and help some,” Plunk said.
Plunk acknowledged Clark is leaving 34 years of experience behind.
“Laketha, as I told her from the time we hired her, get her book and write everything down because it’s going to take a long time,” said Plunk to Covington jokingly.
Plunk said learning the City Clerk position takes a lot of trial and error.
“Hopefully, the errors don’t cost us a lot of money,” Plunk again said jokingly.
“But, seriously, like Ken said, everybody calls you Momma Bear from the police department to the fire department.”
Plunk said employees throughout the city come to Clark for guidance and many things go through her before the Board of Mayor and Commissioners.
“That says a lot for people to think so much of you,” Plunk said.
“Thank you Cathy for a job well done.”
Plunk expressed confidence in Covington.
“I do believe, and this board does, to put the trust in her to carry the city forward,” Plunk said.
Ward 3 Commissioner Willie Turner looked for Clark’s guidance when it came to the finances.
“She’s watched me along the way of the journeys that I’ve made since I’ve been here and she’s been the same spot on,” Turner said. “When she says it’s time to tighten your belt, it’s time to tighten your belt.
“When she spoke, people listened, so I just wish you the best in your endeavors going forward and may God bless you and God keep you.”
Seals expressed similar sentiments.
“Cathy, you have been one of the most valuable employees the city has had within the past 33, 34 years,” Seals said. “Because of your efforts, we have gone forward and words simply cannot express our heartfelt gratitude for you and the efforts that you put into this job. We wish you a happy retirement and we do plan to see you again.”