EDITORIAL: Summer of Transitions
Laurens County Public Works is going to undergo, this summer, a massive transition. Its director, Rob Russian, has become the Greenwood County Engineer. He will have a role in monitoring traffic in and out of the giant Enviva biomass, wood pellet-producing industry just across the lake from Laurens County, among many other duties.
Billy Wilson, for now, is Russian’s replacement.
The five members of Laurens County Council were very complementary of Russian at his final meeting with the council July 10 (he also attended the July 17 county planning commission meeting). Russian was the county director for SC DOT (Department of Transportation) before he came to work for Laurens County to handle roads and bridges among many, many other duties so, suffice it to say, he knows the lay of the land in Laurens County very well.
However, that’s not all. Russian managed animal control through a very controversial time. He was the interim county administrator as Ernie Segars handed off the role to Jon Caime. He saw that the historic courthouse in downtown Laurens was rotting away, and did something about it. He watch a couple of water seeping (gushing?) incidents at Hillcrest Square, and devised a way to get it fixed. The five council members know, and everybody else should, too, we’re really going to miss him.
That’s not all the transitions that are coming. We visited the Clinton Arby’s the other day - right beside the Clinton Zaxby’s. These are just down the road from what’s going to become the City of Clinton’s second spec building in or near the Clinton 26 Commerce Park (which did not exist two years ago). The City - and the CEDC, Advantage Clinton and Santee Cooper - is going to build this “economic development magnet” with $3.2 million in loan funds. The City is going to pay off the loan with economic development funds from CNNGA (the Clinton-Newberry Natural Gas Authority). And, if we can ever get the SC DOT off its glacier-moving - eh - status, the City might be able to take possession of the really valuable piece of property where sand and salt used on I-26 when it snows now sits. Everybody should be talking to the above-mentioned County Administrator Caime - he has THE idea for getting the DOT of Laurens County all under one roof, still right by the interstate. A Transition, again.
We mention Arby’s and Zaxby’s simply to say this: Our county’s service sector needs help. With unemployment at 4% lots of people have jobs, are content in their jobs or just too scared to move, or have been channelled into manufacturing where, goodness knows, America needs a lot of help keeping up with the rest of the world. Finding fast-food workers, cooks, hotel cleaners, assisted-living personnel, and office workers is a challenge for many businesses - the people are out there, the barriers to getting them working every single day are many. We need them - they need money, and they long for the self-worth that comes with holding a job, buying a house, and becoming the bedrock of our community. Again, a transition for many of our citizens into productive citizenship.
Buildings are transitioning all over the place. A cotton warehouse in Clinton is becoming a wedding venue. Overlooking-the-square apartments in uptown Clinton are available for rent. A row of shops beside CrossFit is coming back to life - look for kids selling smoothies out the back door of one of these really soon. A former Clinton coffee shop is a restaurant; a former storage spot behind a dress shop is the city’s newest coffee shop. The former Parthenon in Clinton is transitioning, and A Taste of Home in Laurens will transition away from an open-air “drive-through” once they replace the front plate glass that someone decided to run into. Hospice of Laurens County is hiring, because internal promotions have opened up positions. A company has gone into hospice headquarters to set up palliative care, and that official opening will happen in August.
Think Laurens County. We are on the move, folks. The constancy of change is upon us. Transitions - everywhere.