Concerns grow over Jackson public works' future - - Jackson, MS

Concerns grow over Jackson public works' future

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Just days ago, Jackson Public Works Director Kishia Powell handed the city her resignation. It's a big responsibility,and in Powell's case, came with a big paycheck: $150,000 a year.

Now the city needs someone else ready to take on all of Jackson's infrastructure woes.

"It's important to acknowledge that now we are in some critical times. We are at a crossroads with our infrastructure," said Ward 6 Councilman Tyrone Hendrix.

Hendrix calls the situation "critical" because one more thing has been thrown into the mix: Powell's abrupt resignation.

Now the conversation shifts to who will replace her, and in turn inherit a host of problems tens of thousands of residents still face, from water woes to pothole problems.

Hendrix says right now, getting someone permanent with an election year around the corner could be a tough sell.

"You don't know who's gonna be the mayor. You don't know who's gonna be on city council. You don't know who's gonna be in what position, which makes it very difficult to go out and recruit someone to come into the city of Jackson," added Hendrix.

Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said Powell's hiring caused a drop in morale for city workers because Powell's salary was reportedly the highest of any city employee.

"We can minimize the damage and I think the way we do that is we immediately fill this position and not spend months now looking around the country for someone to do this," said Barrett-Simon. "Let's look within and see what we have here, and I think we have some very capable people who can do a job like this."

Hendrix agrees with Barrett-Simon about the quick turnaround because of how many projects public works has under its belt.

"If it's not a smooth transition, if this holds up projects, if this holds us progress and we miss this season to actually fix things in Jackson, we'll be doing our residents a real disservice," said Hendrix.

Mayor Tony Yarber is expected to select an interim department head, and nominate a permanent replacement at a later time.

That replacement would have to then be approved by the city council.

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