After 47 years of service to Sussex County government, Planning & Zoning Director Lawrence Lank will retire on Jan. 6.
The longest-serving County employee in its history, Lank was hired Oct. 14, 1969, as a map draftsman. He then went on to work as a planning tech from 1977 until January 1985, when he became the active director. In April of that year, he took over as permanent Planning & Zoning director.
“We’re certainly sad to see him go and wish him all the best on his next chapter,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson.
During its Jan. 3 meeting, Sussex County council members took the time to recognize Lank for his service and say a few words.
“Lawrence has been a good person to this County,” said Council President Michael Vincent. “He has knowledge that will never ever, ever be duplicated… We’re going to miss you, truly.”
“I very much appreciated his help and support. He always gave me a straight answer,” said Councilman George Cole. “Thank you, Lawrence, for all of your good, hard work.”
Councilman Rob Arlett, who said he’s only known Lank for the two years he’s served on council, said Lank is the epitome of Sussex County.
“You are a truly symbol of what this county is about. I say that from someone who has observed you and witnessed you and others around you.”
“Lawrence is a good common-sense person,” added Councilman Sam Wilson. “Thank you, Lawrence, for doing a great job.”
I.G. Burton III, who served 11 years as a member of the county’s Planning & Zoning Commission before being sworn in as a county councilman this month, said he has appreciated Lank’s friendship over the years.
County Attorney J. Everett Moore Jr. said he first met Lank in 1973 — his first year in law school — while clerking for the summer in Georgetown.
“There were a lot of things going on in the county that summer. Planning & Zoning was relatively new. … During that period of time, I was doing title searches, and Lawrence Lank actually took out a protractor and showed me how to plot deeds so we could trace that more completely,” recalled Moore.
“When you look at Lawrence, the epitome of any type worker — you want reliability, you want consistency and the institutional knowledge. And Lawrence had every one of those.”
Moore said Lank’s institutional knowledge was “absolutely incredible.”
“You would mention some sort of case, and he would go, ‘We’ve done another one like that,’ and he’d pull out the map and he’d pull out the file. It wasn’t on a computer; it wasn’t on a list; it was in his mind.”
Lank, who was visibly moved by the words of praise, said he never expected the accolades.
“I have totally enjoyed my job,” he said.
Lank praised his staff for being wonderful coworkers and friends.
“The biggest thing to me has been staff. I love my staff. They’re excellent — past and present. The group today, I can send them anywhere and they can take care of problems…
“To me, they were my friends, my co-workers, and they’re my family. That’s about all I can say.”
Lank was presented with a proclamation and plaque acknowledging his service to Sussex County.
Also at the Jan. 3 meeting, the winning candidates in the November general election were sworn in to their posts. Burton was sworn in as the new District 3 council member, replacing the retiring Joan R. Deaver. Also sworn in was newly elected Sussex County Clerk of the Peace Norman A. “Jay” Jones Jr., replacing John F. Brady, who did not seek re-election.
County Councilmen Michael H. Vincent of Seaford and Samuel R. Wilson Jr. of Georgetown, both of whom won re-election, took their oaths of office as well on Tuesday.
Following the swearing in, the council appointed Vincent to continue to serve as council president and voted to have Cole take over the role of vice-president.
The next County Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m.