New planning director hired in Jonesboro

Press Release from Bill Campbell, City of Jonesboro

Derrel Smith, who served as senior city planner in the City of Rogers for 22 years, has been hired as Planning Director of the City of Jonesboro.

Smith will replace Otis Spriggs, who served Jonesboro in the role for more than 10 years before leaving in June for a position in Houston, Texas. Tracy McGaha is serving as interim director.

Smith, 54, retired from Rogers in April thinking he “would probably do something outside of planning,” he said. “But once I left, I realized how much I missed it.”

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said finding Smith fills a critical void at a critical time.

“I feel wonderful because I believe we have found a city planner in Derrel with 20 years experience in one of the state’s fastest growing communities,” Perrin said. “In a city experiencing the growth that Jonesboro has been seeing, you have to have a city planner who can expect the unexpected. Losing Otis worried me, because he was so good at his job. But everything I’ve heard about Derrel is complimentary, and I’m excited to have him coming on board.”

Smith, a graduate of the University of Arkansas, supervised the Rogers Planning Department, managing a $1 million budget and 11 employees. He led major projects involving streets, wayfinding signage, downtown revitalization and lighting.

He said he saw the opening in Jonesboro and began to feel the urge to get back into the business.

“I have been to Jonesboro a few times and knew there was a lot of growth, so I began researching it, and it seemed perfect,” Smith said. “It’s a regional draw. You’ve got all these communities that come to Jonesboro and all this growth.”

He said Jonesboro is larger in scale, but the growth was reminiscent of what he experienced in Rogers the past two decades.

“During the time I was at Rogers, we experienced a huge increase in population,” he said. “It was just under 30,000 when I got here, and now it’s over 60,000. During that time, we went from basically a bedroom community to the equal of Fayetteville.”

Smith begins work in Jonesboro on Aug. 15. He and his wife, Jeannine, a teacher, have one son, Caleb, who is a senior at Missouri Southern State University.

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