FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 18, 2005

Governor Barbour Makes Appointments to the Mississippi Fair Commission

(Jackson, Miss.)—Governor Haley Barbour today announced the appointments of Mayor Frank Melton, of Jackson; Lester Spell, Jr., of Jackson; James Sardin, of Jackson; Dr. Vance Watson, of Mississippi State University; Leland Speed, of Jackson; and Larry DeMuth, of Raymond, to the Mississippi Fair Commission.

“These appointees are well-qualified,” Governor Barbour said. “Each has extensive experience in this area, and I feel confident they will serve the people of Mississippi well.”

Mayor Frank Melton is chairman and chief executive officer of the TV-3 Foundation in Jackson. Melton is the past director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and past member of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Task Force. Melton served three terms on the Mississippi State Board of Education; he also served on the Mississippi Department of Human Services board of directors and as chairman of the Mississippi Department of Youth Services. Melton is a full-time volunteer at the Farish Street YMCA, serving as a swimming instructor and mentor. He is a volunteer instructor at the School of Business and Mass Communications at Jackson State University. Additionally, Melton has been a guest lecturer at Tougaloo College, Millsaps College, Belhaven College and Mississippi College. Melton serves on the national board of directors of the Broadcast Music Industry (BMI) in New York, where he is the chairman of BMI Performing Rights Committee. He was elected mayor of Jackson earlier this year.

Spell has been the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce for nine years. Spell has served a two-year term as president of the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA), an organization to promote international marketing efforts. In 2003, he was president of the Southern Association of the State Departments of Agriculture. He is chairman of the Central Farmers’ Market Board. Spell has served as mayor of Richland and as a veterinarian. He is past president of Rankin County Chamber of Commerce and past president of Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association. He attended Mississippi State for pre-veterinary studies and then Auburn University, where he received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1968. After college, Spell served two years as a captain in the Army, supervising inspection of 90% of the perishable food shipped to Vietnam from the West Coast.

Sardin is Associate State Superintendent for Vocational and Technical Education. Prior to serving in this position, Sardin worked as an agriculture and occupational orientation instructor, vocational director, agri-business instructor, and bureau director of the Office of Innovations for the Department of Education. He completed his bachelor and master’s degrees in agriculture education from Alcorn State University and has participated in further study at Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, and Jackson State University. He is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) of Directors, the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) Board of Directors, and the National Association of State Directors for Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEC).

Watson is Vice President of the Division of Agriculture at Mississippi State University. He also serves as the Forestry and Veterinary Medicine Dean, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Director, and as a professor of agronomy with the MSU Extension and Outreach program. Watson is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America. He has authored over 300 publications, including six chapters in textbooks, and served as a team leader for review of Peace Corps agricultural programs in Thailand. A recipient of the MSU Alumni Award for Excellence in Research, Watson has also received the First Mississippi Corporation Award for Outstanding Experiment Station Scientist. Additionally, Watson served as the executive vice president of AOSCA, an international organization for genetic standards and certification of 350 varieties of crops produced by 25,000 growers in nine countries, from 1992–1997. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Southeast Missouri State University and a master’s degree at the University of Missouri; Watson received his doctoral degree from Mississippi State University.

Speed is executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. Speed also founded and chairs Parkway Properties, Inc., and EastGroup Properites, Inc., both New York Stock Exchange-listed companies. In October of 2004, Morgan Stanley ranked more than 200+ publicly traded real estate companies in the country on the basis of total return to shareholders over the last 10 years; of these rankings, EastGroup Properties was placed fifteenth and Parkway Properties was placed number one. Active in civic affairs, Speed has served as chairman of the Downtown Jackson Partners. He is past chairman of the Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce, Goodwill Industries and the United Way of the Capital Area. Currently, Speed serves as chairman of the Jackson State University Development Foundation, and as a member and past chairman of the Board of Trustees of Mississippi College. In 1998 Speed was named to the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame. A native of Jackson, Speed received his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from The Georgia Institute of Technology. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.

DeMuth is currently a representative for American Breeders Service (ABS Global). He retired from the Mississippi Extension Service after 20 years as a livestock specialist. Additionally, DeMuth has been operating a sheep farm, DeMuth Club Lambs, for 25 years. He is president of the Mississippi Livestock Council, Mississippi Sheep Producers Association, Mississippi State Animal Science Alumni Association, and Hinds County Livestock Association. DeMuth was selected to receive the “Outstanding Allied Industries” Service Award from the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in animal nutrition from Mississippi State University. DeMuth has been married to the former Kathy Pate for 14 years. They have a set of twins, Lauren and Pate, and a daughter, Kelly, who is married and works for AmSouth.

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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741