PHOTO: Official letter sent from Governor Kay Ivey, notifying Sparks of his termination.
By Marla Jones, Reporter
(Updated at 12:30 pm, April 13, 2017 to include statement from Ron Sparks)
MONTGOMERY, Ala.—On Wednesday, April 12 at 3:30 pm, Director of the Alabama Rural Development Office (RDC), Ron Sparks received the official notification from Governor Kay Ivey, that his services with the Office of the Governor would no longer be needed. Ivey announced her intentions of signing an executive order to abolish the state’s Office of Rural Development.
Ron Sparks is a native of Fort Payne. Sparks served as the State’s Agricultural Commissioner from 2003-2011. He lost his bid to Robert Bentley in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Bentley appointed Sparks as Director of the Office of Rural Development in 2011.
The RDC was created by former Governor, Robert Bentley. Since the formation of the RDC in 2011, many beneficial programs have been initiated for the citizens of the State of Alabama including the Telemedicine Program and most recently the Baby Box Program.
Sparks stated on his Facebook account that, “although I never had any intention of working with the Ivey administration, it was my sincere hope that someone from her office would contact me so that I could work with her to ensure that these programs were transitioned in a manner that was in the best interest of the people of Alabama.”
In the closing sentence of Spark's Facebook post, he alluded to possible new political aspirations, “I will see you on the campaign trail in the near future.”
Southern Torch has included the post from Sparks personal facebook account, a picture that was posted on his page hinting of a political comeback and a copy of the official letter that Sparks received from Governor Kay Ivey.
UPDATED: Statement issued earlier from Ron Sparks:
[blockquote style="2"]I would like to thank everyone for all of the calls, texts, and emails over the last few hours. It has been an honor to spend over half of my life in public service. The people of Alabama have been really good to me, and I hope they feel that I have served them well. Many of you know that, as of today, Governor Kay Ivey, abolished the Rural Development Office (RDO). You all learned of this decision in the same manner as I did, through the news media. I am deeply saddened that politics came before protecting the people of rural Alabama, and especially before saving the lives of babies. At some point, public service has to become more important than self-service. No one from the Governor's office had the professional courtesy to discuss the important programs that we have initiated over the last few years: 1) The lifesaving Baby Box Program, implemented to reduce infant mortality, and for which thousands of Alabama mothers have signed up since its launch just two weeks ago; 2) Telemedicine; 3) Black Belt Commission; and, many more rural initiatives designed and implemented to improve the lives of rural Alabamians. Although I never had any intention of working for the Ivey administration, it was my sincere hope that someone from her office would contact me so that I could work with her office to ensure that these programs were transitioned in a manner that was in the best interest of the people of Alabama. While my well-being is certainly secondary to any of the aforementioned programs, I do appreciate your outreach and concern. As you know, my service to our great State has never been about me. I was in touch with The Retirement Systems of Alabama yesterday, and am looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends. I will see you all on the campaign trail in the near future! God bless you all![/blockquote]