Ronnie Hutto intends to start his semi-retirement this month.
Hutto, the county's pre-construction engineer, is set to retire on Jan. 31, but he will stay on in a part-time role to complete some major projects.
"There are several projects I'm involved with and have been for some time," the 63-year-old said. "I have just been asked to nursemaid these projects to completion."
Those include the extension of William Few Parkway to Hardy-McManus Road and the widening of Washington Road from Gibbs Road to William Few Parkway.
"I've got so much knowledge and been so involved with those, it would be unfair for me to walk away and leave the county hanging," Hutto said.
He hopes to complete the design work on William Few Parkway by August and then fully retire.
Construction and Maintenance Services Director Matt Schlachter, who has worked with Hutto for four years, said he is grateful that Hutto intends to continue consulting on road projects after his retirement.
"The knowledge that that man has about the county projects ... is going to be irreplaceable," Schlachter said.
Still, county commissioners made such an attempt during a meeting Thursday.
The commission approved hiring Stephen Exley as the county's new road construction manager. He previously served as an engineer at Reynold's Plantation. Exley will earn $73,500 a year in salary, in addition to a monthly car and phone allowance.
Schlachter said he initially was hired by the county to replace Hutto, but then had the unenviable task of finding Hutto's replacement.
"He has taught me that you always keep a project moving," Schlachter said. "When a decision has to be made, make it quick and keep everybody happy.
"If you do that, you end up with a better product."
This isn't the first time Hutto attempted to retire.
After 32 years as an area engineer with the state Department of Transportation office in Augusta, Hutto retired in December 1996. However, he remained with DOT as a consultant for another six months.
"That gave me 10 weeks off, and then I went crazy and came to (Columbia County) in September 2007," he said.
Hutto still is unsure of how he will handle retirement.
"I've been working since I was 8 years old, so I've never had a whole lot of time off," he said. "I'm sure my wife will come up with something."
At least one of those somethings with his wife, Donna, will include travel.
"I've been blessed with a little bit of health, and there are things I'd like to do and places I'd like to go and see while I'm able to do it," he said.
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