Bob Flanders has seen many things come and go during his time at the helm in Thomson. The city's first administrator even saw himself come, go and come back as he returned for a second stint in the job he left years ago.
But there comes a time when that dusty novel on the shelf, the seldom used fishing pole and a desire for volunteerism call more loudly than mapping new water lines and fostering downtown development in a growing community.
That time has come for Mr. Flanders, he said. The City Council has begun a search for his replacement, and he will retire as soon as that person is trained to take over.
"You always want to be at the top of your game when you leave, if you can," said the 66-year old Mr. Flanders. "I feel like we've had a little success here, and I think it's a good time to leave."
Also, an administration change is coming with the next election, he said. Letting a new city administrator get used to the way business is conducted before a new mayor and city council members take over will provide continuity, Mr. Flanders added.
During his first stint as city administrator, Mr. Flanders helped oversee the beginnings of the intricate water and sewer system that is in place across much of McDuffie County today.
Mr. Flanders took the job for the first time in early 1979 and left at the end of 1982. He got out of government and served in education in Florida for a couple of years before receiving a call from Thomson Mayor Bob Knox and Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Usry.
In late 2000, the city administrator job was open, and they asked if Mr. Flanders was interested in returning. He visited to check out what had been done since his departure and then began his second tenure in early 2001.
"Quite frankly, I had always had a love for this community," Mr. Flanders said. "It just gave me an opportunity to come back up here and do some things that I had started on years ago and then become another part of it at a different stage."
The continuation of that work is a source of pride for Mr. Flanders. He is glad to have made a contribution by establishing the position of city administrator as well as helping to initiate infrastructure improvements to the city and at the local airport.
Mr. Flanders is also appreciative of the cooperation efforts between local governments. But others have said his greatest accomplishment is steering the community toward planning for the future.
"I can't say enough good things about him. He's been awfully important, I think, for our city and our whole community in moving it forward, and I think he's done that in a top-notch, professional way," Mayor Knox said. "...One of Bob's great abilities, I think, is not only to do the everyday detail that has to be done but also to keep the big picture in mind."
The City Council is currently accepting applications for city administrator. Mayor Knox said they will begin interviews in a couple of months. Once a replacement is hired, Mr. Flanders will serve along side that person for training, possibly until late 2007.