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DU’s interim GM to retire after 34 years

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com · 340-2441

On Jan. 15, 1974, Decatur Utilities’ newest employee began his career — a career that would last more than three decades.

On Jan. 15, Stan Keenum will celebrate his 34th year as an employee of DU.

“I still remember my first day,” said Keenum, DU’s interim general manager. “I started out at the entry level. ... I had a couple of jobs before this one, but this was my first real job.”

On Feb. 1, two weeks after his anniversary with DU, another celebration awaits Keenum: a retirement celebration.

Started as a lineman

The 34-year veteran and former crewman who climbed DU’s management ladder to interim general manager announced his retirement Friday to the Municipal Utilities Board.

“I saved this announcement until the very end, hoping he (Keenum) would change his mind,” said Neal Holland Jr., board chairman.

Keenum chuckled and slowly shook his head.

“It sounds like a long time, 34 years, but it really doesn’t seem that long,” Keenum said. “Every job I’ve done here I’ve really enjoyed.”

When former General Manager Kem Carr resigned in March, Keenum, then operations manager, stepped in as general manager, temporarily, until the board could find a replacement.

“I personally appreciate you standing in as general manager,” Board member Hugh Hillhouse said. “Your devotion to DU has been second to none.”

“We’ve been fortunate to have someone of your caliber serve in this position,” added Holland.

For Keenum, a job developed into a career and a love.

“DU provides vital services for the community, and at the end of the day, when you’re able to help the community, it is very satisfying,” Keenum said. “I’m going to truly miss DU. I love it here, and I love what I do.”

Gaining a new title

The former lineman, lead lineman, electrical superintendent, construction manager and operations manager anticipates assuming another title beginning Feb. 2 — Mr. Fix-It.

“My wife’s got a list of stuff I’ve got to do, and I’ve got three grandkids I want to spend time with,” Keenum said. “That’s for the short term. Longer that that I really don’t know, but I know that my wife can keep me busy for a while.”

As Keenum prepares for retirement, the board, consisting of Hillhouse, Holland and Secretary Glynn Tubb, is intensifying its search for a permanent general manager.

“We have been lucky to have Stan serve in the interim, but with his announcement our search is now more energized,” Holland said.

Headed by Hillhouse, the general manager search began in April and included advertising in newspapers, trade journals and industry-related Web sites.

From a field of more than a hundred applicants and a series of phone interviews with the board, the list of candidates has narrowed to four. The board plans to conduct face-to-face interviews with the candidates in the near future.

“The next rounds will be quick after the week of Thanksgiving,” Hillhouse said.

The result of the in-person interviews will determine the board’s ensuing actions. Hillhouse described the search as “fluid” with the potential of extending a job offer to a candidate after the interviews, conducting another round of interviews or resuming the search.

According to Holland, the “final four” include candidates from both the public and private sectors.

“I’m looking at the role of general manager gravitating to more of a CEO,” said Holland.

“We want the general manager to be able to think outside of the box,” Tubb added.

If the board fails to choose a general manager by Feb. 1, Keenum’s wife may have to wait for her husband to start on the list of chores.

“My plan is to retire on Feb. 1,” Keenum said, “but if the worst case happens, I would be able to jiggle that date a little.

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