Hantsport’s CAO heading west

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on August 14, 2012

Hantsport CAO Jeff Lawrence says he will be leaving the Haven of Hospitality with a heavy heart come fall. 

Ashley Thompson

After 15 years as the CAO for Hantsport, Jeff Lawrence is leaving the Haven of Hospitality.

Lawrence, the son of Allen and Donna Lawrence of Kennetcook, is heading to Alberta in September to assumethe role of General Manager of Operations in the County of Lac La Biche.

The lifelong resident of Nova Scotia says the decision to move across the country was not an easy one to make. Both he and his significant other, Sharon, who has also accepted a job with the County of Lac La Biche, weighed the pros and cons for quite some time.

Topping the con list, were thoughts of leaving friends and family behind, and taking their eight-year-old daughter, Isabelle — Hantsport’s first Little Miss Harvest Fest and the child attendant to Princess Hantsport 2012 — out of her hometown.

“I believe this is the best community in Nova Scotia to raise a child and it will be difficult to leave family and friends,” the 45-year-old admits.

“We both love living in Hantsport, but this opportunity presented itself and, after many weeks of discussion, we finally decided that we’re going to pursue it.”

Lawrence will go from managing a town of about 2,000residents to overseeing operations in a well-to-do region of 10,000 poised for rapid growth because of developments in the oil industry.

As exciting as the prospects of career advancement and returning to Nova Scotia to retire at a reasonable age may be, Lawrence predicts he’ll be hit with pangs of nostalgia quite frequently in future endeavours.

Lawrence said the Town of Hantsport is in good hands, with competent council, and skilled town staffers on hand to help the new CAO transition in.

“All of them work for the betterment of the town and they genuinely care.”

Some of the major town projects Lawrence was involved with included the building of a new water treatment plant, town hall, soccer field, tennis courts, wading pool, community trail, trade centre and McCully Subdivision. He was also a key player in the installation of security cameras and a free wireless mesh network in the town — innovative ideas that garnered Hantsport attention as a leading municipality within the province.

“Council is fairly progressive,” he said. “They work well together; they don’t always agree with me, but there’s a logic to their decision making and I’m very appreciative of the opportunity that they gave me.”

Lawrence, whose last day as the CAO of Hantsport is Sept. 3, has worked under the guidance of a council headed by Mayor Wayne Folker since day one.

In a brief phone interview, the mayor of 21 years said anything but good riddance.

“His ideas and his energy has certainly helped us along with a lot of projects. He’s been a big help and we’re surely going to miss him — there’s no question about it,” he said.

“I’m sure he’ll do well out there because he’s done well by us.”

It is up to council to hire Lawrence’s replacement. The competition for the job closes Aug. 17.