Monday, May 17, 2010

John Ed Ainsworth dies at 66

I missed the stories about the death of John Ed Ainsworth, the state land commissioner who ran on the platform of abolishing the office. I've always heard that there was a $10,000 bet involved on his ability to get elected to the obscure post because his name would appear first on the ballot. Maybe it's true, maybe not, but I've heard it so often that there must be a little something to it.
His obit from the Clarion-Ledger:
John Ed Ainsworth, the last person to serve as Mississippi's public land commissioner, has died.
Ainsworth, 66, has been credited with being a key figure in the reform of Mississippi's 16th Section lands.
He served as land commissioner from 1976 to 1980, all while calling for the abolishment of the post in an effort to make state government more efficient and effective.
The Legislature agreed with Ainsworth and did away with the post, folding its duties into the secretary of state's office in 1980.
Those who knew him said one of Ainsworth's main goals was to make 16th Section lands more profitable for the school districts that benefit from them.
Efforts he advocated included placing limits on the terms of leases and seeking competitive bids to make sure income was at least on par with private land.
"He was a visionary," Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said. "He could see the possibilities."
Mississippi's 16th Section lands raised $77 million this year and its forestry value is more than $1 billion.
"He was a good man and a bona fide Mississippi character," former Secretary of State Dick Molpus said of Ainsworth, whom he had beat for the secretary of state's office in 1983.

As always, when Sid Salter wants to write a nice column about someone, he does it well. It can be found here: Ainsworth left legacy of service to his state.

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