GIRARD — Eldon Bedene will put on his Crawford County Emergency Management polo shirt and go to work for the last time Thursday after serving as director for 32 years.

Current Crawford County Emergency Manager Jason VanBecelaere and other county employees celebrated Bedene’s retirement Monday at the emergency management offices in Girard.

Bedene served as director for 32 years, but he was helping with emergency management long before 1985.

“I started out as the emergency manager in Arma,” he said. “I was appointed in 1971 by Joe Saia.”

From there, Bedene eventually moved to Girard and worked as county emergency manager and jail manager — although he didn’t like dealing with inmates, and eventually moved his office.

He’s also done radio maintenance, upgrades and more for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, Fire, EMS and more.

But he said now is the time for a change.

“I’m 66 years old and it’s just time for a change,” Bedene said. “I’m going to sit back — well, I’m going to try — for a couple months and just relax.”

Bedene said he stayed at work long enough to get through budget season and help VanBecelaere — who started as emergency manager last fall.

“We have a good guy in Jason,” Bedene said. “Hopefully once I’m gone we can get him some part time help, because it’s hard doing this as a one-man team, but he’ll do all right.”

As much as Bedene plans to relax, he said he’ll most likely end up out in the community continuing service somewhere.

“I’ll probably end up doing something,” he said. “Maybe volunteering with the Red Cross or Salvation Army, whatever it is, I’ll be around.”

The Crawford County Commission presented Bedene with a plaque commemorating his service at their meeting Monday.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.