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ANKENY, Iowa -- The corporate secretary for the 1,450-unit Casey's General Stores chain has resigned, The Associated Press reported.

John G. Harmon, who was also a senior vice president for the company, entered a severance agreement dated Jan. 17, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and cited by the AP. Harmon had been with the company since 1976, and was named secretary/treasurer in 1998, according to the report.

Harmon's decision to leave Casey's was somewhat unexpected, but he has decided to retire early, company spokesman Bill Walljasper told the AP.

"He's been here a long time and has done a lot of great things for the company," Walljasper told the AP. "He's certainly a strong reason for our growth over the past 32 years."

Harmon's responsibilities included oversight of the company’s mergers and acquisitions, the report stated. He will assist the company in the transition period until his duties are reassigned, Walljasper told the AP.

The chain has expanded in recent years by acquiring other convenience chains. The most recent acquisition included 33 HandiMart stores from Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Nordstrom Oil Co. last year, the AP reported. The chain also plans to grow through acquisitions totaling 50 stores by April 2008, along with the construction of 10 locations, CSNews Online reported in early December when the company issued its financial results for the second quarter of 2008.

In other people news, fuel distributor and c-store franchisor Atlas Oil Co. named Kimberly Sharkey to the position of director of communications, Detroit Daily Business News reported.

In this new position, Sharkey will serve as assistant to chairman and CEO Sam Simon on special projects, the report stated. Sharkey most recently was involved in the company's Atlas Cares program, which allows the company to give back to its community.

Under the program, Atlas Oil, along with 44 companies and private donors, sponsored a holiday party last month at Selfridge Air National Guard Base for 250 U.S. Marines who were preparing for duty in Iraq, according to the report.

In supplier people news, James Venable joined foodservice provider Chester's International as its director of operations. He comes to the position with more than 20 years of experience in the c-store and foodservice industries, most recently in a regional management position for Petro Stopping Centers’ travel plazas.

In this position, he will be responsible for the effort to increase profitability at the store level by directing operational training at all U.S. Chester's locations. He will also oversee all operational activities of Chester's more than 1,500 locations, and will serve as a liaison between the company's sales, marketing and operations divisions, including the field operations team.

"I am ready to spread my wings in this fast-growing category within the c-store industry," Venable said in a statement. "I am very excited to be part of the Chester's team. For years, Chester's has been a leader in the category and their current line of operational support is representative of the excellence that the brand signifies."