Friends, family and colleagues gathered Friday afternoon at the headquarters of Dawson County Emergency Services to celebrate the nearly four decade career of the county's longest standing employee.
Emergency Services Director Billy Thurmond began his career in 1978 on staff with Dawson County Parks and Recreation before going to EMT school, receiving his paramedic certification and overseeing operations of the county's EMS division.
He was named the department's director in 2001.
Thurmond said he is honored to be able to say he spent his entire career serving his community.
"Every day, I considered it a pleasure to get up and come to work for Dawson County. Not many people get the opportunity to work where they live, and I've got to do that my entire career," he said. "It's been a blessing.
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."
Chief Lanier Swafford assumed the director's position on Saturday.
"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."