By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
There will be a change in leadership in the city's Parks and Recreation Department.
Mayor Percy Bland terminated long-time director Mark Naylor on Wednesday, appointing Kevin McGruder as interim director.
Department heads in the city serve at the pleasure of the mayor, who can terminate them without input from the city council. However, department heads have to be confirmed by the council.
"I just needed a new direction," Bland said on Thursday. "Mark has served almost 30 years and he's done a lot of great things for Parks and Recreation. We just want to move in a different direction."
Naylor is among three department heads who had not been confirmed by the council. Bland did not ask for his confirmation by the council when he announced his picks for department heads at his first council meeting as mayor in July.
Still to be confirmed are; Curt Goldacker, chief administrative officer; and Hugh Smith, director of Public Works. Bland said he will decide during the next two weeks if he wants to ask for their confirmation by the city council at its next meeting. Bland said he will consider whether he will want to recommend McGruder as the new director.
Bland said that McGruder has bachelor's and master's degrees in science and a PH.D. in business administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. Until this week he has been assistant director of Parks and Recreation.
His assistant director will now be Charlie Turner.
Contacted by telephone on Thursday, Naylor said he knew that something like this might happen.
"I didn't leave on any ill feelings," Naylor said. "He told me he appreciated my years of service, that it wasn't anything that I had done. He just wants to go in a different direction."
After 30 years with the city of Meridian, Naylor said he has time to start looking for another job.
"I want to stay in Meridian," Naylor said. "I've been here all my life."
Ward Three Councilwoman Barbara Henson said she will miss Naylor.
"He's done a wonderful job and as long as he has been on the job, I can't ever remember a time when I was disappointed in him," Henson said.