FORMER MISSISSIPPI State Auditor Pete Johnson of Clarksdale, Miss., has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, a new agency charged with boosting the economy of the historically impoverished lower Mississippi Delta.

“I am very pleased that Pete Johnson was unanimously confirmed to head the newly-formed Delta Regional Authority,” said Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark. “He will make an excellent director for this very important agency. We have been waiting all year to see him move into the post.

“The Delta region desperately needs assistance in curing its persistent poverty,” Berry said, “and the Delta Regional Authority is the best way to focus an effort in that direction.”

Berry introduced legislation in 1999 to create the Delta Regional Authority and was its lead advocate in the House of Representatives.

Johnson is an attorney. He was elected state auditor in 1988 and served in that position until 1992, when he was appointed Mississippi state director of the Farmer's Home Administration.

As co-chairman, Johnson will run the Delta Regional Authority's day-to-day operations. The other co-chairman will be a governor from one of the eight participating states. The governors and Johnson will form the agency's operating board, meeting regularly to decide how to dispense dollars throughout the region.