Bentley appoints Sparks to head rural development office
Gov. Robert Bentley appointed his former opponent and former agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks to head the newly created Alabama Rural Development Office.
Bentley announced the appointment on Wednesday, when he also signed an executive order creating the office. Bentley's order also rescinds previous executive orders that created the Black Belt Action Commission and the Alabama Rural Action Commission with the missions and responsibilities of those now falling under Sparks and his office.
Sparks will be paid $80,000 in his new role, according to Bentley communications director Rebekah Mason. She said he begins work immediately.
The purpose of the new office, according to the governor's office, is "to improve and advance education, healthcare, and economic development in the rural areas of Alabama."
Bentley and Sparks "share a common desire to create a better quality of life for Alabama’s rural areas," according to a release from Bentley's office.
"During the campaign, I got to know Commissioner Sparks well and the one issue we could always agree upon is the need to improve the lives of those who live in our rural communities," Bentley said. "This is an example of how we can put politics aside and work together for the common good of all Alabamians. I appreciate his willingness to serve."
Sparks said he looks forward to working with Bentley on issues affecting rural Alabama.
"I look forward to implementing the governor's policies improving the quality of life in some of our state’s poorest regions," Sparks said.
Bentley will appoint members to the Alabama Rural Development Office.
Bentley, the Republican nominee and a former state legislator from Tuscaloosa, soundly defeated Sparks, the popular two-term agriculture commissioner, in the November election.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen