Goshen hosting retirement party for Shelly Kirchhefer after 29 years

GOSHEN COUNTY – After 29 years of service in Goshen County and for the county, long-standing Goshen County Emergency Management Director Shelly Kirchhefer is retiring – and the county is hosting a bon voyage coffee sendoff next week in her honor.

Kirchhefer, daughter of a former firefighter in the county, began her career in emergency management services 29 years ago, 1993, in Lingle and in May of 1999, she transferred to Goshen County Emergency Management where she has filled many roles, including working with U.S. Homeland Security.

Her retirement was announced earlier this summer and Kirchhefer has been credited with years of selfless service to all of Goshen County, from aiding in floods, to the county’s COVID-19 response and various training programs – which included responses to possible terrorist concerns.

In her last emergency management report to the Goshen County Commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting, Kirchhefer said, “I love the job – but it’s time to relax and take it easy.”

“What can I say other than I love this community, I love our county, cities and towns and it’s been a great experience and career,” Kirchhefer added.

The county is hosting a retirement coffee send-off on Wednesday, September 14 at the building on 21st in Main St., where Java Jar and Goshen County Economic Development share a building from 10 a.m. until noon; all are welcome to join.

“It runs in her blood – her dad, I recruited her dad into firefighting, so I think this line of work really does just run in her blood because she has done so much for our community in the last nearly 30 years and we couldn’t have had someone more dedicated to entrust our safety to,” Goshen County Fire Warden Bill Law told commissioners and Kirchhefer on Tuesday at the county courthouse.

Adding, “we certainly will miss her and her ethics – but mostly, I think we will miss her honor and dedication to her work and our communities around the county.”

County Commissioners John Ellis, Justin Burkart and Cody Cox along with retiring Goshen County Clerk Cindy Kenyon, all reminisced of the many emergency situations in which Kirchhefer responded to in the county during her time in the position.

“We will miss you and what you have done – sacrificially in many ways – for this county, but don’t be shy and come see us, I’m sure it will be beneficial for you to meet the incoming commissioners to get them up and running, but we will all certainly miss your dedication and heart in this office,” Chairman John Ellis explained.

Of which, Kirchhefer responded, “I will be back to visit, not as often, because it’s time to rest and relax – but I’ll be back.”

And as she turned to presumably incoming Goshen County Commissioner Mike McNamee, Kirchhefer said, “you have a tough road ahead of you, but I’ll of course help you and the other incoming commissioner here and there – and you’ll be in good hands with Chuck (Kenyon).”

Goshen County Commissioners appointed Chuck Kenyon as the interim Goshen County Emergency Management Director until the board could recruit, hire someone for the job.

“How do we find someone so dedicated to the county after Shelly for so many years?” Burkart asked tongue in cheek. “Her shoes are going to be tough to follow in – but we hope we find someone just as passionate about the job and position.”

Law added, “I just want to thank Shelly for her many years of service to us, our county and our communities – it will certainly be different without you kiddo – and it is somewhat bittersweet to see you retire now.”

All in attendance were in agreement that Kirchhefer has been an invaluable resource to the county in the last nearly three decades of service and she is “irreplaceable” as several commissioners said. The commissioners held a small reception after Tuesday’s meeting to say goodbye to Kirchhefer in honor of her service to the county.

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