Audience members applaud and stand after commissioners say they do plan to maintain the agricultural economic development director position after Lynn Sprague’s departure. (photo by Leah Justice)
Audience members applaud and stand after commissioners say they do plan to maintain the agricultural economic development director position after Lynn Sprague’s departure. (photo by Leah Justice)

Commissioners commit to replace ag economic development director

Published 6:55pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Over 100 attend joint workshop

Polk County Commissioners said Monday, May 6 that they are committed to replacing the agriculture economic development director following his resignation and that’s exactly what the crowd of more than 100 came to hear.

Commissioners made the declaration during a joint workshop held with the soil and water district and farmland preservation boards at the Mill Spring Agricultural Center.

Thirteen residents who spoke during citizen comments all endorsed the county continuing to have an agriculture economic development director following current director Lynn Sprague’s resignation.

Perhaps the most personal endorsement of hiring a director came from Paige Paris, who was the last speaker and said she thought commissioners should hear from a “young Polk County farmer.” Paris said that Sprague came to her and her husband Christopher a week after they moved here and put the couple in touch with people he knew needed the skills they had.

“Christopher and I pruned an entire muscadine vineyard by ourselves because Lynn put us in touch with someone who needed that done,” Paris said. “I don’t know how to make it more clear how badly we young farmers need someone in this county to put us in touch with the elders … so we can grow into the community we all came here to support.”

Paris said there are many people in Polk County that hold land and would love to see it produced.

“There are young people out there begging for your help to help our entire community, so please make sure this is on top of your list,” Paris said, “ because without Lynn, Chris and I could not have made it until May.”

Polk County Board of Commissioner Chair Michael Gage opened the meeting, held at the Mill Spring Agricultural Center, by saying it’s not his board’s intention to recreate the wheel.

“On behalf of the board of commissioners it is our intent to gain a better understanding of where agriculture in Polk County is now and where your boards see it going in the future,” said Gage. “We greatly seek and appreciate your wisdom and experience, as we work toward a partnership of trust and understanding of each other. It is not this board’s intention to recreate the wheel, but instead we wish to take that wheel and build upon it – creating a stronger agriculture industry in Polk County.”

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