|Meet our Board of Directors
Ronald L. Brink, Chairman
Chairman Brink is a native of Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. The County Board Chairmen elected him to the Mid-America Intermodal Authority Port District with the approval of Governor George Ryan in 1999. The MAIA Port District Board of Directors then appointed him to the Mid-America Port Commission, the three state Commission engaged in the important work of establishing a port in the region.
Early in his career, he engaged himself in organizing a Brink Construction Company. Between 1961 to 1980 he worked hard to establish it as a reputable and dependable construction firm. Ron kept his eyes open for expansion and diversification. Slowly between 1975 and 1987 he acquired two trucking companies, Thompson, Inc., and Lesser TX, Inc. besides establishing Brink Ready-Mix and Brink Asphalt and Paving Company. He has avid interest in interstate trucking and both inland and seaports.
Merritt W. Sprague, Vice-Chairman
A Pike County, Illinois, native and former senior executive in the federal government, Merritt Sprague was appointed to the Mid-America Intermodal Authority Port District Board of Directors and the associated Mid-America Port Commission by Governor George Ryan in 1999. A graduate of the University of Illinois College of Agriculture in 1954, he manages a farm producing over 2,800 acres of corn and soybeans. Merritt and his wife, Pat, live on family farm property first acquired by his great-grandfather shortly after the Civil War. His appointments to public service include being named Chairman of the Illinois State ASCS Committee and member of an Illinois blue-ribbon Commission of Regional Public Education in the 1970’s. During the 1981-1993 time period, Merritt was in Washington, D. C. serving: first, the U. S. Department of Agriculture as the Deputy Administrator for Commodity Operations of ASCS and as Manager of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation; then, the US Department of Interior as Director of the Office of Policy Analysis and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy. Vice-Chairman Sprague is a past President of the Hull Lions Club and spent 16 years as a 4-H Club Leader.
George Clark, Secretary/Treasurer
George Clark is a native of Mt. Sterling, Brown County, Illinois. Governor George Ryan appointed Mr. Clark to the Mid-America Intermodal Authority Port District Board of Directors in 1999. After his graduation, George became involved in private and public sectors. He served in the Adams Electrical Co-op and retired after 40 years of service and he has been a member of the Brown County Board for 16 years and is currently Chairman of the County Board. On assuming leadership of the County, he encouraged economic growth in the County as he felt that without economic advancement, the quality of life in the community could not be improved and would result in out-migration from the county. The younger generation would have to leave the county to find jobs elsewhere, and that would erode the population base as well as the economic base. Therefore, he dedicated his full effort to the relocation and expansion of businesses in the county. George and his wife, Vickie reside in Mt. Sterling, Illinois.
Mr. Gene Blackburn, Director
Gene Blackburn is a native of Brooklyn, Schuyler County, Illinois. Governor George Ryan appointed Mr. Blackburn to the Mid-America Intermodal Authority Port District Board of Directors in 1999. Gene has been involved in the family farming business since 1958. He was a member of the Schuyler County Farm Bureau Board from 1960 to 1970 and served on former Representative Bob Michael’s Farm Advisory Committee. He has been Chairman of Schuyler County School Board for two years during his membership to the Board between 1965 and 1974. Gene was also member of the Schuyler County Board between 1976 and 1988 serving years as the County Board Chairman. He is serving as a member of the Two Rivers Regional Council of Public Officials’ Governing Board 1976. Gene has developed a regional approach for solution of problems concerning the counties that are included in the Regional Council as aforesaid. He and his wife, Rose, reside in Plymouth, Illinois.
H. O. Brownback, Director
Former Chairman of the Cass County Board, Mr. Brownback was appointed to the Mid-America Intermodal Authority Port District Board of Directors by the county board chairmen of the port district and approved by Governor George Ryan in 1999. Mr. Brownback is an educator, businessman, and farm owner in addition to his public responsibilities. Since 1975 he has served Southwestern Illinois College as faculty and as a senior administrator. He is president and CEO of the Brownback Drug Company. Founded in 1847, Brownback Drug is one of Illinois’ oldest businesses. He also serves as a director of the State Bank of Ashland and as a director and officer of SBA Bancorp, a multi-bank and insurance holding company. Brownback was first elected to the Cass County Board in 1982 and assumed his position as chairman and CEO in 1990. Mr. Brownback is a graduate of Illinois College, and holds graduate degrees from the University of Illinois (SSU) and from Saint Louis University. He and his wife, Jane, reside in Ashland, Illinois. Mr. Brownback has a great interest in regional economic development and in promoting economic opportunity for Illinois’ rural counties.
Max Edlen, Director
Max Edlen is a native of Scott County, Illinois. The County Chairmen elected him to the Mid-America Intermodal Authority Port District Board of Directors with the approval of Governor George Ryan in 1999. The MAIA Port District Board of Directors then appointed him to the associated Mid-America Port Commission. Vice-Chairman Edlen had been a Commissioner in Scott County for a number of years until 1999. After his graduation, he has been actively involved in the public sector. Max has actively worked for the public interest in the field of economic development while pursuing a career in the public school system and later in the construction field. As Chairman of the Scott County Board from 1997 to 1999, he had the opportunity to watch the progress and be associated with the development of a major grain terminal, "Consolidated Grain and Barge Company", at Naples, Scott County, Illinois. Over a short period of time, this terminal has grown tremendously almost resembling a mini-port. He had encouraged this operation to invest and create jobs, which in return rendered substantial help to the county residents and farmers. Max has great interest in the rivers and inland water transportation. He and his wife, Bonnie, reside in Bluffs, Illinois.
Paul Fornell, Director
Paul Fornell is a native of Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois. The County Board Chairmen elected him to the Mid-America Intermodal Authority Port District with the approval of Governor George Ryan in 1999. After his graduation from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Paul has been associated with various agricultural related businesses for over 30 years. In the process, he has acquired thorough knowledge and experience in inland waterway transportation, barge industry and trucking industry. He is now the President of Dock Site, Inc. Paul and his wife, Saundra, enjoy themselves as residents on the banks of ‘Old Man River’. He has avid interest in sport fishing and indulges himself in this activity whenever he can make free-time from his business activities.
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