The chairman of the Lead Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust has resigned his post.
Larry Rice submitted his written resignation Sept. 26, citing his recent appointment as Rogers State University president and his wife's health issues as contributing factors to his decision.
“In my opinion, this is an appropriate time to resign, due to the completion of the Phase I buyout and the significant progress the trust members have accomplished during the past two years,” Rice wrote. “The remaining trust members are incredibly seasoned, hardworking members who have devoted many, many hours of volunteer time dealing with often complex issues involving this unprecedented buyout.”
Rice was appointed as chairman of the trust when Gov. Brad Henry assembled the seven-member panel in 2006 and tasked it to oversee a comprehensive buyout of at-risk residents within the former lead and zinc mining district.
Dr. Mark Osborn, vice chairman of the trust and a Miami physician, has received Henry's appointment to fill the shoes of Rice. He will take the lead as the trust enters the final phase of the state-led, federally funded buyout effort.
“The governor and I have great confidence in Dr. Osborn to lead the buyout effort across the finish line,” state secretary of the environment J.D. Strong wrote in a memo to trust members. “All of you have served with him for the past two years, and a couple of you have served with him since the 6-and-under buyout, so I don't have to tell you about Dr. Osborn's passion and abilities.”
Virgil Jurgensmeyer, also from Miami, has been appointed to to fill a vacancy created as the state shuffled the trust.
“Mr. Jurgensmeyer is a well respected, reasoned public servant and highly successful businessman in Miami,” Strong said. “I got to know him when he served as a state commissioner of agriculture many years ago, as well as during his service on the governor's Tar Creek Superfund Task Force in 2000”
In response to Rice's resignation, Osborn offered his appreciation to the former chairman's efforts.
“He got us through the hardest part,” Osborn said. “I appreciate his efforts and I wish him the very best.”
Strong echoed Osborn's sentiments.
“I knew Dr. Rice before his involvement in the Trust and can tell you that he has long been a sacrificial servant of the public,” Strong said. “His passion for helping Oklahomans was evident in his most recent role as chairman of the trust, as well, and I know that he will be sorely missed by all.”