BLOOMINGTON - Soon-to be-retired McLean County Sheriff Dave Owens laughed as he recalled his first day in office.
"I can remember sitting alone in my office and thinking, 'What the heck did I get myself into?'" he said. "But I hope what I've done in the last eight years has been positive and has helped the people of McLean County."
Owens, who is retiring after 33 years at the sheriff's department, was honored at a retirement party Sunday afternoon at Crestwicke Country Club. The party was also held to honor Lt. Bonnie Serone, who is retiring after 25 years with the department.
Owens said he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, family and friends.
"I'm going to be spending a lot more time running after grandkids," he said. "I'm also looking forward to being just plain Dave instead of Sheriff,"
Owens and his wife Bonnie have a 15-day cruise to Hawaii planned for January. He is also planning on doing some part-time contract work for the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, where he currently serves as board co-chairman.
Derick Love, chief deputy of the department, has worked with Owens for more than 20 years.
"I'll miss his easy nature," he said. "He lets you do your job and doesn't bother you. And he's always very reasonable."
Love said the general feeling around the department is that people are going to miss Owens's presence at the department.
"He couldn't have been a better boss and I'm sad to see him go," he said.
Lt. Jeff Elston agreed.
"He's been there through my entire career, what can I say?" he said. "It really becomes like a family when you've been together that long."
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said he worked with Owens during Brady's two terms as McLean County coroner.
"We worked on a lot of high-profile cases together, especially after he became sheriff during my second term," he said. "Sheriff Owens was never about fanfare. He was about getting the job done."
Brady said Owens was instrumental in bringing the new emergency radio system, StarCom 21, to McLean County.
"StarCom 21 has been extremely helpful to this county," he said.
Owens said he will miss the people he worked with every day.
"We've got good solid relationships," he said. "Some of the people I worked with for over 20 years."