After nearly eight years with the city and most of the last two as its assistant city manager, Sherman said goodbye to Don Keene Monday at City Hall during a reception that was attended by many of the city’s employees.

The Sherman native is leaving the city to become principal at Whitesboro Middle School. Keene was given a number of gifts during the ceremony from the city, Sherman Fire-Rescue and its honor guard, the Sherman Police Department and a collective gift from the directors of the city’s different departments.

“It has truly been a blessing to serve this community with you people,” Keene said to the nearly 75 staff members and friends gathered in the council chambers. “I love every one of you and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. If there is ever anything you need and you think I can help you with, I would be very disappointed if you didn’t find me and ask me for my help. I think most of you who know me understand that the bottom line is there’s some kids and some teachers who need help and I’m going to go help them.”

After Sherman Pipes and Drums, which is made up of first responders from the Sherman Police Department and Sherman Fire-Rescue, kicked off the event with some music, Mayor David Plyler was the first person to talk about Keene’s impact on the city.

“Don’s one of the great employees here at Sherman,” Plyler said. “Without such a great city staff and folks like you, we would not be able to do the things that we do for our community today. One thing I’ve learned about Don is when he talks about his time in public education, his face kind of lights up and you can tell he really has a passion for working with kids and working with teachers, so I’m really glad he has an opportunity to pursue a dream.”

City staff then presented Keene with a crystal service award and a large Sherman street sign for Keene Ranch Road that included the dates 2009 and 2017 for the years he worked at City Hall. Sherman Fire-Rescue’s honor guard then presented Keene with a flag that was flown over the city and Fire Chief Danny Jones gave him a Sherman Fire-Rescue fleece pullover. Sherman Police Chief Zachary Flores gifted Keene an SPD badge on a plaque that he could keep on his desk. And Director of Developmental Services Scott Shadden gave him a new pair of ostrich cowboy boots from all of the city department directors.

“I believe we’re better now today than we were yesterday and we were better yesterday than we were the day before and a lot of that has to do with Don, honestly,” City Manager Robby Hefton said before adding it wasn’t too late for him to change his mind.

Keene replied that if he changed his mind, he’d have to give back all those presents, which drew a roar of laughter from those in attendance. Hefton then closed the formal portion of the reception by giving Keene a blessing and asking all in attendance to come forward to join them in a group prayer.

Before being named Sherman’s assistant city manager in late October 2015, Keene served as capital project manager, director of engineering and public works, director of community and support services, and director of administration and finance.

Hefton didn’t give a definitive date as to when he would name a new assistant city manager but said that announcement could come as early as later this week.