Justice of the Peace Ernie Sparks announces he will retire on Sept. 30




Ernie Sparks, justice of the peace of Precinct 5, Place 2, in Lamar County for the past 10 years, is retiring on Sept. 30.

Justice of the Peace Ernie Sparks

“I’m just ready to retire. I always said the time would come when I was ready, and it’s here,” Sparks, who is 63, told eParisExtra on Monday.

“I’m going to play some golf, and me and my wife are going to travel. I got a lot of things to do around home, too, and some rent houses. And, you know, my momma and Rita’s dad — a lot of things on my plate,” he said.

Sparks has been JP for almost 10 years, since Jan. 1, 2003. His current 4-year term expires on Dec. 31, 2014.

It will be up to the Lamar County Commissioners Court to appoint someone to serve the 27 months remaining on Sparks’ term

“I’ll announce it to the commissioners on the 24th (Monday), that I’m retiring on the 30th, and the commissioners and the county judge will probably take some applications and appoint a successor,” Sparks said.

“I’ve really loved this job, it’s the best job I’ve ever had. It’s really been enjoyable. I’m telling you, it’s been great. It fit me just right. I love the people of Lamar County, and that‘s what it‘s all about — the people. I‘ve been very, very happy.”

Sparks has been living in the area most of his life. Born in Crosbyton, 35 miles east of Lubbock, he moved with his family as a child to Dell City, a cotton farming community, then to Paris after he completed seventh grade.

“I went to East Paris school in the eighth grade, and then we moved to Deport,” where he met his wife-to-be, Rita Simmons, whose father was the Deport superintendent.

‘After I graduated from high school at Deport, I moved to Paris and went to work.

“Course I’ve been working all my life. I started out working a little cotton when I was young, and I hauled hay and all that. At 17, I worked at Campbell Soup, cleaning and doing stuff. When I turned 18, I went to work for Uarco, and worked there for 18 years,” he said.

Along the way, he got his college degree and taught school for two years at Detroit. He worked for the county probation office for seven years and the parole department for five years before making his successful run for justice of the peace in 2002.

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About the Author

Charles Richards Charles Richards moved to Paris in 2004 after retiring from a 40-year career in journalism – the last 26 years as a news writer and sports writer with The Associated Press in Dallas and Washington, D.C. In mid-2004, The Paris News coaxed him out of retirement, and he began covering the police, court and regional beat for The Paris News. Then in early 2005, he was switched to coverage of a sharply divided Paris City Council. He was appointed by the City Council in 2006 to the 12-member City Charter Review Commission, which extensively rewrote the outmoded document. His writing awards include two first-place awards in statewide competition for feature writing. The most recent was his 2005 story on a Paris doctor’s startling use of leeches in a successful attempt to re-attach a man’s severed ear. Over his career, Richards’ interview subjects include Alabama Gov. George Wallace, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, David Koresh, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and numerous other political and sports figures. He is an alumnus of Texas Tech, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He lives in Paris with his wife, Barbara, who is retired after 30 years as a teacher and high school counselor.