West Memphis taps Jones for business relations role
City moves Bailey to community outreach position
West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon brought two new public relations directors on staff after city council approved shifting budgeted job positions to his office, forming the new office of Business and Community relations.
Steven Jones assumed the role as the first Director of Business and Community Relations. Tawana Bailey, the popular and successful police department Community Relations Coordinator was promoted and will slot into the ranks under Jones, doing outreach for the entire city.
As the city continued to attract new and expanding businesses, the appointments fill a vital role especially in developing solid relationships with the existing businesses, and reaching out to prospective business as they evaluate the local economic atmosphere. Jones’ assigned role was set to build bridges for working relationships between the new department and the community.
The mayor called the new department a ‘hub’ for streamlined communication and community relation building.
“When I took office this year, I promised to strengthen relationships with our residents, business owners, parks and neighborhoods identify the gaps in existing departments and services to ensure all residents have a better relationship with city hall,” said McClendon. “By creating this department, we will do just that, leveraging our existing resources to serve our community effectively by strengthening community involvement and citizen engagement.”
Jones comes to the city with 30 years of experience in business, government and non-profits. Jones served Southern Bancorp as a vice president leading community strategic planing in Mississippi and Arkansas. Former Governor Mike Beebe appointed Jones to the Delta Regional Authority Board in 2010. Jones attended Arkansas State and the Harvard University Executive Leadership Academy.
Jones worked here general manager of Crittenden Publishing. The eager first-term mayor announced his decision before Jones’s eligibility for hire had been completely vetted. Jones served a 30-month sentence for a felony bribery conviction while working as deputy director for the Arkansas Department of Human Services. A called meeting with the City Attorney Mike Stephenson was held the next day to consider the Jones appointment. Such a criminal record would preclude Jones from another state job, but the mayor emerged from
position that the felony conviction did not make the new director ineligible for hire by the city.
Pay for the new position was set at $53,000 per year and based on the position line item transferred October 17 by city council from the police department to the mayor’s administration saving additional expense for the new job.
Police Department Outreach Coordinator Tawana Butler was also promoted to the new department as Director of Outreach.
Assistant Police Chief Robert Langston said the move was bittersweet.
Butler worked with the police for a year taking on coordination for the citizens academy, developing police and community together, #PACT, the 9:00 p.m. routine reminding citizens to lock vehicles and turn on porch lights, and developed the door to door police campaign called park and walk.
“She made a tremendous impact here,” said Langston. “Anytime we had a community outreach idea, she took it and made it better than we could have hoped for or imagined. We knew from the moment we interviewed her she was the best fit for outreach. Despite being from Jonesboro she was already connected to the community through church, her sorority and Girl Scouts. She’ll be a tremendous asset for the city.”
Butler said she’d still be helping the police in some capacity.
“I’ve been asked if I am leaving the police department,” said Butler. “I’ll still be assisting them along with many other job duties. We built that program and will continue to move it forward.”