Editorial: Laurens County is counting on Jon Caime
Laurens County Council voted unanimously to make a job offer to a man to become the new Laurens County Administrator. Jon Caime, who is the administrator in Hart County, Ga., was chosen over two men with Laurens County connections. Caime has reportedly accepted the job and is expected to begin work in May. He currently lives in Seneca. Hart County is similar to Laurens County in more than a few ways. Hart County borders Lake Harwell and we’ve got Lake Greenwood. Hart County is working hard to develop an educated workforce, which Laurens County is doing with SC WorkKeys and with The Laurens County Future Scholarship, offering a free two-year technical education to any student graduating from a Laurens County high school. Hart County is located off I-85 about an hour from Greenville with a population of 23,000, Laurens County’s population is in the mid-60s with the population growth coming in the Fountain Inn area and to a lesser extent around the lake. “In general, we’re all dealing with the same kind of issue,” Caime told the Laurens County Advertiser. “With all of that interstate frontage on I-385 and I-26, you’re right there in the Greenville-Spartanburg area. There’s so much phenomenal economic potential in Laurens County. It’s a tremendous opportunity.” Caime is right. Laurens County has tremendous potential and has for years. But we have struggled to turn the potential into reality except in the northern end of the county. The other two finalists for the administrator’s job had direct connections to Laurens County. Greg Alexander is a native and worked in banking here before becoming president and CEO of the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce seven years ago. In that role, Alexander has greatly expanded the chamber’s reach and programs, including an award-winning beautification program and a successful local shopping program. The good news for Laurens County is that Alexander, even though he didn’t get the administrator’s job, has committed to staying and working in Laurens County. “The desire to serve my home community burns bright within me,” he said in a release to media and members of the chamber board. “My work is far from done in serving Laurens County.” The other finalist was Columbus Stephens, the McCormick County administrator. Stephens worked for Laurens County from 1989 until 2001 in the role of personnel and purchasing agent. He still owns a home in Laurens. Caime will replace Ernie Segars, who is working beyond his original retirement date to help acclimate Caime to his new job. Segars has been a stalwart, working for the county since 1988. After receiving a master’s degree from USC in 1974, Segars worked here at The Chronicle from 1975 until 1980. He then worked at the Upper Savannah Council of Governments from 1980 until 1988 before he was appointed administrative assistant to Laurens County Council. He was named Laurens County Administrator in 1996, the first person to hold that role. He has overseen a significant building program and the expansion of county workers and services. Rural fire service and the county’s EMS program today doesn’t resemble in anyway what they were in the early years of Segars’ tenure. Caime won’t be another Ernie Segars and no one should expect him to be. He will bring his own management and leadership skills and abilities to a job that is challenging in the best times. Segars has served Laurens County long and well. He has earned a long and restful retirement with his wife Jeanette and their three grandchildren. He’s a good man. Laurens County is counting on Jon Caime to be a good man.