Meridian Parks Director Ousted

Meridian, Miss. There's a major shakeup involving department heads with the City of Meridian. Longtime Parks and Recreation Director Mark Naylor has been fired. Naylor says he was contacted by Mayor Percy Bland Wednesday. He says the mayor thanked him for his service, and stated that he wants the department to go in a different direction.

"I knew that probably within six months that we probably were going to reevaluate it," says Naylor. "He didn't appoint me back in July like he did Hugh, (with Public Works) and told him for six months, and after the council meeting the other night, I figured that it was going to push him to make a decision probably a little quicker."

All department heads for the City of Meridian must be appointed by the mayor, and ultimately approved by the city council. However, only the mayor has the right to dismiss a department head.
Aside from Naylor, who had not been brought up for confirmation, Mayor Percy Bland still has the interim director for the Public Works Department and the Acting Chief Administrative Officer to present to the council for confirmation.

"At the last city council meeting we had the mayor inform us that he would bring those people forward within the next thirty days or at the next council meeting is what I heard him say," says Meridian City Council President George Thomas.

He says there are currently about fifty people working for the city as temporary employees. Thomas is defending the council's action this week that will require temporary workers, within 90 days of being appointed, to undergo the civil service hiring process of a qualification review, taking a test and being interviewed.

"We found some cases where people had been there for years in a temporary position," says Thomas. "If it's a legitimate position, let's put it under civil service and make sure that the person doing the jobs has the qualifications to do the job."

As of early Thursday afternoon, there was no word on who Mayor Percy Bland is planning to appoint as the new head for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Mark Naylor has worked for the city of Meridian for almost 30 years. He has served as Parks and Recreation Director since 1992. His last official day on the job is Monday.

Bland said Kelvin McGruder will be interim parks and recreation director as of Tuesday, Oct. 22. Charlie Turner will be interim assistant director. The mayor says he will submit names for permanent replacements to the Meridian City Council within 90 days.