Traverse City Record-Eagle


December 4, 2013

Board picks new Benzie County administrator

TRAVERSE CITY — Beulah resident Karl Sparks hadn’t adjusted well to retirement’s relative inaction.

So he applied for the open Benzie County administrator position, and he was selected for it.

Sparks, 67, brings decades of human resources knowledge to the position.

Benzie County Commissioners voted 5 to 2 to approve Sparks for the post in November. He started his administrator duties Monday.

Sparks replaces former Administrator Chris Olson. Sparks’ starting salary will be $55,000, the same as his predecessor.

“I liked him because he smiled a lot and he came as a consensus builder,” said Commissioner Roger Griner of Sparks. “He probably knows more than any of us knew, but he wants us to tell him what we want him to do.”

Sparks was born in Cadillac and grew up around Lansing, although his family vacationed in Mesick.

He retired in Benzie County in 2010, but decided he wasn’t ready to stop work and threw his hat in for the administrator position.

Sparks has worked in human resources throughout his professional life, most recently as the director of human resources at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Sparks hopes his collective bargaining and strategic planning experience will benefit the county.

“I’m happy to be here and be back in a working situation and hoping to contribute to the county,” Sparks said.

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