Julia Jones to retire, leaves behind strong parks department

Cape Girardeau has excellent parks and many recreational opportunities. The success of these facilities and programs can be attributed in part to a dynamic individual: Julia Jones.

Following a successful career in Florida, Jones moved back to her native Cape Girardeau about 10 years ago when the parks director position became available. The opportunity to work in her field of study while being close to family was too good to pass up. City leadership obviously agreed she was a good fit and hired Jones for the role.

“[Mom] said if you’re ever going to come back home, now is the time,” Jones said, noting her mom sent her a Southeast Missourian story about the open position. “I had already accepted a job in Brevard County, Florida, on the Space Coast but — call it a God-wink or some premonition — I realized that wasn’t going to be the place for me, and I declined the position. It was not long after when Mom sent me the clipping, so after 30 years of working in the Sunshine State, it was time to come here.”

Jones thrived at the helm of the department. She led and advocated for improved facilities. There was the $12 million SportsPlex, Cape Splash, development of the Shawnee Sports Complex and multi-phased upgrades to Capaha Park. Of course, voter support of the Parks and Recreation and Stormwater Tax played a big role. But leading the way was Jones and her team.

In retirement, Jones said she and her husband plan to spend time in Cape Girardeau and Florida and do some traveling.

We have great respect for Julia Jones and the work she’s done in Cape Girardeau for parks and recreation. The city will have big shoes to fill when a new director is hired. But thanks to the groundwork laid by Jones and her talented and capable staff, the next parks director is in a good position.

Thank you to Jones for her efforts and making the decision to finish her professional career in her hometown. Cape Girardeau is all the better for it.