Sparks Appoints Deputy Ag Commissioners
When Ron Sparks took his oath of office Jan. 20, he didn’t waste any time getting right to work at his new job as Alabama’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.That job, he said, will be made easier with the help of his two new deputy commissioners, each of whom brings knowledge and experience that Sparks said will make his office the best it can be.During the Alabama Farmers Federation’s annual meeting in December, Sparks announced that former Federation executive director Doug Rigney would serve as one of the deputy commissioners for his department.More recently, Sparks announced the appointment of Glen Zorn, a Covington County farmer, businessman and former mayor of Florala.”When I take my oath of office, we will have everything in place to begin work immediately,” Sparks said. “As assistant commissioner, our transition began right after the election with the full cooperation of Commissioner (Charles) Bishop. That’s made our job much easier.”Sparks said he would have a total of five deputy commissioners on his staff, each with specific fields of expertise. The two new members of the staff, Rigney and Zorn, will join Ronnie Murphy whose focus is federal programs, Andy Naramore who will focus on legislative affairs and interim Deputy Commissioner Dr. John Block who will concentrate on food safety issues.Rigney’s duties will include day-to-day administrative duties, so Sparks can travel the state meeting with farmers and industry leaders. Rigney said he would draw on his many years of experience with the Farmers Federation as he approaches his new job.”The network of people I’ve been able to meet over the years will be valuable to us and will help us better serve all the people of Alabama,” Rigney said. “I’m excited about my new role and about staying in contact with lots of friends who have helped me over the years. This is a wonderful opportunity and I appreciate Ron (Sparks) asking me to be a part of his team.”Rigney served as executive director of the Alabama Farmers Federation from 1998-2000. Prior to that, he served as assistant executive director since 1978. An Auburn University graduate, Rigney has served on the board of directors for numerous state, regional and national agricultural organizations.Zorn brings another perspective to the department. While he has been a farmer and businessman, his experience as a small-town mayor will bring special insight into the office, Sparks said. Zorn will act as a liaison for the office to help serve county and city governments in the areas of rural economic development.”Having been the mayor of a small town, I know what industry means to a rural area,” Zorn said. “I’ve also been a farmer and been involved in water conservation issues, and I know that will help me in my new job as well.”Zorn, a graduate of the University of West Alabama, owned and worked for several agricultural businesses including Florala Farmers & Builders Co-Op, Agrico Chemical Co., Zorn Brothers, Inc., and Farmers Favorite Fertilizer Co. He is a partner in Andalusia Peanut Co. In 2000, he served as president of the Alabama Crop Management Association, and he serves as director of the Choctawhatchee-Pea-Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority. He also served on the Alabama Commission on Environmental Initiatives.