By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Terry Jones became a part of Millington history back in 2012 winning the mayoral race and becoming the first person to hold that position in the new form of government.
Jones, who was voted mayor of Millington in 2004, suffered a defeat to Richard Hodges in 2008. With the city’s charter changing in 2011-12, Jones seek to re-enter the office knowing Millington would head to a city manager form of government.
After four years in the new format, Jones is ready to continue in the passion of mayor taking on the challenge of Vice Mayor Chris Ford.
“This is my second term as mayor,” Jones noted. “This time it was a little more of a challenge with us going through the transition from a strong mayor form of government to a city manager form of government. I just wanted to continue to go ahead working for the city.
“The biggest difference is it’s not so much the day to day operations,” he added. “You’re not sitting in the office running every department. That’s what the city manager’s job is.”
Jones broke down the responsibilities of a mayor in the new form of government.
“As an elected official you’re still attending all the meeting for the mayor, Mid-South Association of Governments, Mid-South Mayor’s Association, EDGE Committee, or anything that has to do with the development of the city,” he said. “You attend all the Planning Commission meetings, some of the Industrial Development Board meetings, Airport Authority meetings and some of the Chamber meetings. They say it’s a part-time job. I’ve found out as elected official, there’s no such thing as part time.”
Jones keeps busy with his mayoral duties, tasks as an insurance agent for Farmer’s Insurance and father and husband. Jones and his wife Mary moved to Millington in the mid 1990s for his Naval duties. He served three years of active duty as the an high-ranking officer on the then Naval Air Station Memphis.
Those duties introduced Jones to local government, but the longtime Naval officer still wanted to serve in uniform heading over to Millington Central High School after retirement.
“I think the biggest change for me getting more involved in the community came after I retired,” he recalled. “In 1997, I went to work with the high school with the Navy Junior ROTC program. That’s where you really become a part of the community. Because now you’re working with people’s kids and parents on a daily basis. That’s where you really get to know the people.”
Parents, colleagues and community leaders encouraged Jones to get more involved in Millington through government. He ran for alderman in 2000 and won a seat on the Board. After serving for 4 years he was elected mayor in 2004.
After a term away from the office, Jones was elected mayor once again in 2012.
“The last four years has really been good for us,” Jones said. “We have been blessed with a really good business base in Millington. I see that as a very big positive for us. I think our sore spot is not getting homes built here. We need the homes here.”
While still focusing on things that need to improve in Millington, Jones took a moment to list a few successes over the past 4 years. A new strip mall more than 165,000 square feet is currently under construction. Flag City will open more than 10 new businesses in upcoming months.
The state of Tennessee was awarded a $70 million residual grant with almost $30 million going to Millington to reduce flooding. And $7.5 million has been set aside for recreation activities.
Other projects about to start are $100 million solar farm project and a $50 million wind power project,”
“We’re putting Millington on the map as a city that will have renewable energy,” Jones noted. “I really think that’s exciting for us. And we can’t leave out the Chamber of Commerce. They have done so much work for us with Diane Baker.
“We have Roy Remington out there at the Airport Authority,” he continued. “We have a flight training school out there and we’ve had facility renovated. It’s really looking good. The Industrial Development Board has been working really hard. We have a couple of things we’re working on right now.”
With so much underway, Jones wants to be around as mayor to see it come to fruition.
“I guess that’s another reason why I would like to stay in,” he acknowledged. “It takes so long to get things going. It doesn’t happen overnight. You work so hard to get things going and it’s time for an election again. You just want to stay around to see some things come to fruition.”
Jones takes pride in being one of the parts that helped Millington transition into a new style of government. Also in the past few years, Millington Municipal Schools came to existence.
“Millington has it’s own school system now,” Jones said. “And that’s exciting for everybody especially when you have control of your own school system. I’ve had three of my kids born here since we moved to Millington.
“Of course one of them went all the way through Millington schools graduating in 2011,” he continued. “The other daughter went through middle school here and got picked up for the National Baccalaureate Program. She ended up graduating from Bolton. I’ve got two more boys to go.”
Jones said the success of MMS is important to the city and his household.
“The wife Mary teaches at Millington Elementary,” he said. “She teaches the fifth grade and she’s the master teacher out there. My son is now in the fifth grade out there. He’s doing great out there. It’s just an exciting time in Millington especially with the schools.”
Jones acknowledged the city and MMS bumped heads a few times in the beginning.
“That bridge has been built and there’s a bond there now,” he said. “Especially with the last year or so things have gone smooth.”
New buildings are on the way for MMS and some renovations have already been completed like the MCHS Annex.
Jones said with more challenges ahead to continue Millington on the path of growth, he had a heart-to-heart with his family on seeking re-election.
“It wasn’t easy,” he acknowledged. “We set down and we did a lot of praying. We decided as as family. It’s been challenging. What I am trying to say is there are a lot of sacrifices you do make. The thing about it, the whole family is involved. It’s not just about you.
“There’s times I could have been at the ball game or I could have been at the honors things,” Jones concluded. “But I had to go to another meeting. I had to be out of town. It’s been a challenge. My family supports me. The younger ones might think its cool to say, ‘Hey my Dad’s the mayor. The wife says it’s my decision. She’s stayed with me celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We’re doing good. They feel it’s my calling. They say God puts you here to do something and you’re doing good. So continue.”