Archived Story

Proctor resigns as county administrator

Published 10:53am Thursday, December 17, 2009

By JOHN EBY
Niles Daily Star

CASSOPOLIS – Second Cass County Administrator Terry L. Proctor announced Wednesday he is leaving after 20 years.

“I have decided that it is time to move on,” said Proctor, 58, a Pennsylvania native who has served in local governments for 34 years.

“This was not an easy decision for me and took thoughtful consideration. However, I am confident that it is the right decision.”

Contacted by the Daily News, Proctor would say only that he intends to do a “number of different things.”

Proctor, who lives in the Niles area, said after two decades in the place where he and Pam raised their three children, “This is my home” and they intend to stay in Cass County.
Matt lives in New York City, but Seth lives in the county.

Sarah teaches at Dowagiac’s Justus Gage Elementary School.

“I believe they are productive adults because they were raised here,” he told Dowagiac Rotary Club in June 2008.

Proctor’s last day in his $91,938 job with Cass County will be March 12, 2010.

He will assist in the transfer of responsibilities to his successor under the direction of the Board of Commissioners, which meets tonight at 7:30.

In conclusion, he said, “I wish both the board and the County of Cass every good fortune and I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve the county for 20 years.”

He succeeded Jefferson Township Supervisor Jeff Carmen in 1990.

The position was created in 1986.

“I’ve had a good 20 years,” the avid tennis player said modestly.
Proctor often described himself as an eternal optimist, recalling Dec. 16 how even when he arrived a generation ago to a jail that is no longer new, there were remarks about “the last person in Michigan turning out the lights. That gloom-and-doom veil does not help,” nor did he let it thwart his outsider’s vision to “figure out ways” to finance the Law and Courts Building, Animal Control, Department of Human Services, an E-911 center and the public health building with Van Buren County, plus computerizing Cass and developing a Web site where increasing amounts of county business are transacted.
Making a Dowagiac analogy, Proctor noted the vision it took to turn a negative downtown eyesore into Wood Fire Italian Trattoria.

If he has any regret, it is that the 1899 courthouse has not been supplanted by a more modern executive office building.

Last Dec. 18 commissioners rewarded Proctor’s performance with a 2.5-percent raise on what was then an $89,696 base salary effective Feb. 1, 2009. His contract was to run through Jan. 31, 2012.

For each of 10 content areas, commissioners at the end of 2008 ranked Proctor from one (low) to five (high).

• Public relations, one score of three or less; 12 scores of four or better.

• Employee relations, one score of three or less; 12 scores of four or better.

• Relationship with board, one score of three or less; 12 scores of four or better.

• Leadership, one score of three or less; 12 scores of four or better.

• Communications, two scores of three or less, 11 scores of four or better.

• Personal traits, one score of three or less, 12 scores of four or better.

• Goal achieving, 13 scores of four or better.

• Fiscal management, two scores of three or less, 11 scores of four or better.

• Decision-making, one score of three or less; 12 scores of four or better.

Commissioner comments included:

“Terry continues to do a very good job.”

“I think Terry is doing a great job. It shows in times like this. Cass County can be proud of its position – especially financial.”

“He does an excellent job.”

“I firmly believe Terry is the most valuable asset Cass County has and would be in strong support of coming to an agreement which would keep Terry on staff for the foreseeable future.”

“I am well satisfied with the work Terry does for Cass County residents. He always finds the time to take care of the business at hand in a professional manner. It is a pleasure to work with him.”

“Terry provides thoughtful and informed input for the commission to consider when making decisions. Very helpful.”

“He does a very professional job, creative and works beyond what is expected.”

Proctor came to Cass County in 1990 from Seekonk, Mass.

Growing up in Bethlehem, Pa., Proctor delivered the Allentown newspaper, cleaned and painted classrooms and labored in a steel plant as summer jobs.

Not only did he paint schools, “I even won the ‘Sleepy Brusher’ award,” he once said, “because I had two jobs that summer, nights in a newspaper printing plant, then I painted school buildings during the day. I still have that certificate.”

Third of four children, his dad worked for the steel corporation and served on the school board, so “at a young age, I had a taste of public service.”

Proctor was involved in student government and president of his class. He participated in a high school service club affiliated with Kiwanis.

Elected to regional and statewide office, “I got to travel by myself as a high school student to a number of states.”

“I was never the best student with all those activities,” Proctor said, “but I always worked hard. I worked my way through Penn State with a major in public service. I was very fortunate because there was a program at Penn State that trained people to work in state and local government. I went to graduate school in Ohio and finished with a master’s degree in public administration.”

Proctor’s career consists of four years in city government in Virginia, 10 years in town government in Massachusetts, then Cass County.

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