Todd Jones was always willing to help those around him, never got mad and showed others kindness.
Those were some of the sentiments Jones’ colleagues expressed toward him during his retirement party at the Clarksdale Civic Auditorium on Thursday after working for the city’s Public Works Department the past 32 years. He was presented a plaque from the city and shovel from the Public Works Department honoring his service.
Jones’ first position with the Public Works Department was a shovel man. He then became a truck driver, was promoted to equipment operator and then heavy equipment operator and worked his way up to become the street manager.
After serving as the street manager, Jones was named the Public Works Director and held the position for approximately half of his time with the department.
“I just wanted to say I really enjoyed working for the city for the years,” Jones said. “I didn’t think I was ever going to make it to this point, but here I am. I really appreciate everything the city has done for me, too. I’ve been helped just as much as I’ve helped. I really appreciate it. I really do.”
Mayor Chuck Espy said, since he was a kid, he has known Jones. He said Jones is a strong Christian and family man, never gets mad and has his love and respect.
“His connection to family is something that needs to be passed on to a lot of us,” Espy said. “What I try to do in my time as being married and having children is to emulate Todd Jones.”
Former Mayor Henry Espy initially hired Jones and promoted him to Public Works Director.
“Todd, I did 34 years. You can’t go yet. You’ve got two more,” Henry Espy joked.
In a more serious manner, Henry Espy talked about the importance of Jones’ position.
“Public Works Department can either make you or break you,” Henry Espy said. “It depends on the person that is steering the ship. I thank you for your time and dedication.”
Commissioners echoed Henry Espy’s sentiment about the Public Works Department making or breaking the city.
Ward 1 Commissioner Bo Plunk encouraged Jones to do a lot of hunting and fishing, which he enjoys, during his retirement.
Plunk said Public Works and Police are the two most visible departments in the city.
“Thank you for the job you have done for us,” said Plunk to Jones. “We appreciate the dedication. You’ve helped me out over the last 14 years as a commissioner.”
Ward 2 Commissioner Ken Murphey said he has served 10 years and watched Jones get through tough times. He added he hoped he was there for Jones during those times in the same way Jones has been there for other people.
“There’s a lot of tribulations that you go through,” Murphey said. “It was always good I’d see that Todd Jones would pop across the phone. Todd would just say, ‘Are you OK?’ and I appreciated that.”
Ward 3 Commissioner Willie Turner said he has known Jones for more than 29 years. Turner also said he knew Jones’ father.
“I see the traits of his old man,” said Turner of Jones. “That means a lot.”
Turner said, no matter what the circumstances were, Jones was able to hold and manage a crew and had God on his side.
“People look at Public Works as a lot of time overworked and understaffed,” Turner said.
Ward 4 Commissioner Ed Seals reflected on when Henry Espy and Jones had to let half of the crew go due to a shortage of funds, but that did not stop them from getting work finished.
“Ever since you were offered that job, you have done an amazing job,” Seals said. “We appreciate everything that you’ve done for the citizens of Clarksdale.”
Seals encouraged Jones to spend his retirement fishing, traveling, spending time with his family and enjoying himself.
City department heads expressed similar sentiments.
Acting Public Works Director Craig Amerson wished Jones well and said he hopes to be in his shoes someday.
“You’ve taught me a lot, the years that I’ve been here and I appreciate everything that you’ve done,” Amerson said. “You kind of took a chance on me when some people wouldn’t.”
Personnel Director Tarra Slack said Jones was one of the kindest people she ever met,
“I am truly grateful to have had time to work with you here in the City of Clarksdale,” Slack said. “And, I, of course, wish you all the best in your retirement.”
Quoting the movie character Forrest Gump, Slack said life is like a box of chocolates. She then presented Jones with a box of chocolates.
Fire Chief Rocky Nabors said it was an honor to serve with Jones.
“Congratulations on your retirement,” Nabors said.
Police Chief Robbie Linley said Jones was always there when he needed something. He encouraged Jones to focus on his family, himself, faith in God and Jesus Christ,
“Todd, it’s been a long day coming,” Linley said. “You were here when I started in 1997 and I’ve worked a lot with you through weather storms and severe weather.”
City Attorney Melvin Miller said he heard about Jones before taking his position. Then, after becoming City Attorney, Miller said he learned Jones had all of the qualities he heard about.
“I know some people who worked for the city before I worked in the city and they all sang your praises,” Miller said. “They all knew you were going to take care of these streets, that you were going to push your people, but you were going to do it in the nicest way possible.”
County officials also crossed paths with Jones.
Board of Supervisors President Johnny Newson, who represents District 4, said part of each Supervisor’s District is a section of the City of Clarksdale.
“We appreciate Todd and all his efforts and the Public Works Department,” Newson said. “We can’t do it all by ourselves. We have a unified group here.”
Newson said he does not know what the city will do without Jones.
“We have enjoyed having you with the City of Clarksdale the last 32 years and we have certainly enjoyed working with you through the County,” said Circuit Clerk Demetria Jackson.
Sheriff Charles Jones said Todd Jones should let him know if he can ever do something for him.
“What you do is definitely a calling,” Sheriff Jones said. “I want you to know that we all appreciate what you did.”