Cox out at Agriculture Department; Fuel lab shutdown completed

05/16/2013 04:14 PM

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer on Thursday announced the complete shut down of Richie Farmer’s cash-losing fuel lab as well as the departure of Deputy Commissioner Larry Cox, who had been heading up the lab’s closure.

As announced in April the fuel testing will continue via a private laboratory at a $600,000 savings to taxpayers.

A press release from the Department of Agriculture announced Larry Cox would return to retirement on Thursday.

He served in the department before as executive director for the office of consumer and environmental protection before he took over the role as deputy director after Bruce Harper was let go amid charges by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

“Larry came on board to help guide us through a difficult period,” Comer said in the release. “His experience was an invaluable asset to this office. We knew we only had him temporarily, but he achieved every goal I set out for him, and he leaves this office in great condition.”

Still, Comer had named Cox as the agency’s deputy director on April 3 — just 43 days before Cox announced his return to retirement.

Benson Bell, a division director under Cox, will take over as executive director of consumer and environmental protection. Comer has no immediate plans to fill the deputy commissioner position, the press release said.

As for the fuel lab, about $3.1 million in equipment from the fuel lab is scheduled to be auctioned off by the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet’s surplus property division.


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