Marengo County Economic Development Authority names new director

Chris Bontrager (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Chris Bontrager was introduced as the new executive director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) at the Marengo County Commission meeting Tuesday.

In his introduction of the new director, EMA director Kevin McKinney said the search committee he chaired had applicants from several states as well as those with local ties.

Bontrager most recently has been involved with economic development in northwest Alabama where he was deputy director in a regional effort in Marion, Fayette and Lamar counties. He earned both his undergraduate and master’s degree from Auburn University.

“I am proud to lead the development efforts in the county,” said Bontrager. “My background is in rural economic development.”

He said his current goals “are to take advantage of any momentum we already have.”

Bontrager accepted the job a month ago and began work on Monday. He already has been I touch with counterparts in neighboring counties, especially Tuscaloosa, to see how an alliance could work for Marengo County.

McKinney said the other members of the MCEDA search committee were Jim Parr, Aliquippa Allen, Johnnie Jones and Hugh Overmeyer.

The South Marengo County Youth Leadership members, consisting of 10th-12th graders at Sweet Water and Marengo High Schools were on hand for Bontrager’s introduction.

South Marengo County Youth Leadership members were present for the introduction of new MCEDA Executive Director Chris Bontrager. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Pam Stenz with the county’s Extension Office said the group has met six times during the year to study various aspects of leadership. This is the first year of the program, which is paid for by a grant from RC&D out of Thomasville.

The commission approved a resolution supporting the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act which would split what in the past has been a state-wide group into 10 regions. “It should be good for us,” said Commissioner Freddie Armstead.

Probate Judge Laurie Hall gave official notice as required by Gov. Robert Bentley that a special election to fill the vacancy of former Sen. Jeff Sessions will be held at the same time as the general election in 2018. The governor has appointed Luther Strange to fill Sessions’ position until the election.

In other action, the commission approved:

  • New hire for the road department.
  • Tax abatement for Foster Farms for an expansion to its plant.
  • Liquor license for Popes LLC.
  • The appointment of Johnnie Jones to serve on the Park and Rec Board from District 4.
  • The appointment of Errol Agee Thomas to serve on MCEDA from District 4.