Dawson County's longest standing employee recently announced he plans to retire in December after nearly four decades on the job.
"It's just a good opportunity for me to do some other things, a good time to retire," said Dawson County Emergency Services Director Billy Thurmond. "For 37 years, it's pretty much been a seven day a week job."
Thurmond began his career in 1978 on staff with Dawson County Parks and Recreation, before going to EMT school, receiving his paramedic certification, overseeing operations of the county's EMS division and later being named to his current position in 2001.
"I'm glad that I've been able to work here at home in the county that I was raised in, live in. I've just been proud to have the opportunity for my entire career to serve the citizens of Dawson County," he said.
Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford and Thurmond have worked together since 1989.
"When it comes to someone that knows county government, that knows fire, that's honest, that's hardworking, I don't know of a better example I could have had," Swafford said. "He's always put the best interest of his employees and the county above his own. I've always admired him for that. He's pushed me to excel just as he has every employee that's ever worked for him."
Thurmond said he won't take any credit for the success of the department alone.
"You don't really accomplish anything by yourself. I've worked with a lot of really good people throughout the years, and I've seen the department grow, seen the advancements in technology," he said. "I think we deliver a really good service to the citizens, and I'm proud of that, and I'm proud of our staff and their dedication to the citizens."
While Thurmond is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Lisa, and the grandkids, he does have plans to continue his service to the citizens of Dawson County.
"I am going to run for chairman of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners next year," he said. "It will be a new challenge. Retire from one challenge and look for something else to do to help the citizens."
A celebration will be held in Thurmond's honor from 3-6 p.m. Dec. 4 at Station No. 1. The community is invited to attend.
County officials announced on Monday that Swafford will take over as the department's director effective Dec. 5.
"As we move to the future, we are very fortunate to have had solid leadership and to have a good direction. We have a great staff in place," Swafford said. "We're not going to miss a beat when Billy leaves, but there's going to be a void."