City Manager George Wood announced his resignation at the Statesboro City Council meeting Tuesday, much to the chagrin of those in attendance, He's leaving to take a job as the county manager in Lincoln County, N.C., in large part to be closer to family, but also to seek professional challenges in a county that's experiencing a lot of growth.
"I like coming into situations and working out the problems, but once things are operating well, I tend to look at something else," said Wood, who started his tenure as manager in Oct. 2000. "There's never a good time to go."
Wood's brother, sister and son are all in or near Lincoln County, as are his wife's parents. Though he's happy to be moving closer to his family, Statesboro will always be a meaningful place for him.
"We've thoroughly enjoyed Statesboro. I went to college here and I'm from Savannah, so this was about as close to coming home as you can come without actually coming home," said Wood. "Because I had gone to college here, that was the attraction. I always liked Statesboro."
Wood will continue to act as city manager until the middle of February.
While everyone at the meeting was disappointed to hear of his resignation, they all wanted to wish Wood well in his future endeavors.
Mayor Bill Hatcher said he did everything he could think of - short of bribing Wood - in order to keep him on.
"We're going to miss George Wood. He's been a tremendous asset to this city and this administration. We wish him and his family the very best," said Hatcher. "No one is indispensable or irreplaceable, but he comes as close to that as anyone I know."
Councilman Joe Brannen said he was one of the individuals responsible for hiring Wood in the first place.
"We're very sad to see George go. He's done an outstanding job, He's very knowledgeable about city government and he's well respected statewide," said Brannen. "Of course, going from city to county, I don't know if he'll be able to adjust to that."
City Clerk Judy McCorkle said that he's made substantial changes to the city - all for the better.
"It's a sad day for all of us. He's been one of the most positive things that's happened to the city in its recent history," said McCorkle. "I don't think you'll find any of the department heads or city council members that work very closely with him that won't have good things to say."
City Attorney Sam Brannen, who's been through quite a few city mangers during his tenure, said there's nothing good about Wood leaving.
"He has truly been a valuable asset to the city of Statesboro," said Brannen. "I don't think he can be replaced - now, we find another good manager - but he can't be replaced."
Even though they've disagreed at times, Councilman Will Britt said Wood has really taken care of the city.
"George has been a fantastic manager," said Britt. "We've had budgets balanced, we've had infrastructure grow, staff getting raises, renovations downtown - he's done a great job. I wish him the best."
When asked about hiring an interim manager, Britt said he hoped the council would find someone that wanted to be a temporary solution until a diligent search for a replacement could take place..
"Someone that wanted to be an interim manager," said Britt. "There's a couple of those out there."