‘Just felt that now was the time’: Jackson Parks and Recreation director steps down

Ison Harris is resigning as director of Jackson's Parks and Recreation Department.
Ison Harris is resigning as director of Jackson's Parks and Recreation Department.(WLBT)
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 9:22 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - One of the longest-serving department heads in the city of Jackson is stepping down.

Ison Harris, the director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, confirmed Friday that he was resigning, after six years in the position.

“For the past eight years, I’ve given my all to the department,” he said. “I need to focus on my family and health. I just felt that now was the time.”

Harris was appointed director by Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba in 2017. Prior to that, he served a year and a half as a deputy director in the same department.

Lumumba accepted Harris’ resignation on Friday, and in a statement, thanked the director for his service to the city.

“Mr. Harris handled the department with integrity and dedication. He has made great strides during his tenure here to consistently and tirelessly reach out to the community and hold events that lift up our youth and others, as well as significantly upgrade our city’s golf parks and the Jackson Zoo,” the mayor said. “He has accepted these challenges amid budget constraints, and we are grateful for his service in making the city a better place.”

As director, Harris worked to rename and refurbish the Pete Brown Golf Course. He also helped the city obtain USDA certification to reopen the Jackson Zoological Park after the previous USDA permit was surrendered by the now-defunct Jackson Zoological Society. The zoo closed in 2019 and reopened amid the COVID-19 pandemic under city management.

[READ: USDA grants city official zoo exhibitor’s license]

For his part, Harris thanked the mayor for the opportunity to serve and thanked his staff. “I respect their dedication to this city and the residents that we serve,” he said. “I am truly indebted to them... Right now, I look forward to spending more time with my family. I’m also excited about the next chapter of my life.”

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