PRINCETON — Keith Scherer has seen a lot of changes over the years working for the Princeton Park District.
He saw the Bureau County Metro Center rise in the late '80s and a pool and many ball parks and fields developed along the way.
Scherer, 63, who has been superintendent of parks since 1987, will be retiring after 42 years with the park district effective Oct. 30.
"I've seen the dedication of Zearing Park, the finish of Alexander Pool, the Metro Center and then the addition of 40 acres (at Zearing Park)," Scherer said. "For me, you think you'd have forever. It's just flown by. There's stuff I'd like to get done, either didn't have time or money to get to. You always want it to be better than it is, I guess."
A 1974 graduate of Princeton High School, Scherer started with the park district in 1976. He went off to college a couple years and returned as a parks maintenance worker for 10 years. He became assistant superintendent of parks for a year and succeeded Doug Lowdermilk as superintendent of parks a year later.
Scherer said it's been a challenging job.
"There's something all the time and never boring. Been a real exciting job. Very challenging," he said. "Constantly every day, you've got to revamp what you've got to do. You deal with weather, breakdowns or events going on. Just all kinds of variables every day."
What Scherer finds most rewarding is maintaining the trees and beauty of the parks.
"Replanting the trees that have died and trying to forest the parks the best we could, I enjoy that part," he said.
Parks maintenance coordinator, Matt Wright, Scherer's right-hand man, has soaked up all the knowledge the past 12 years working with Scherer.
"Having 40 years of experience, I did learn quite a bit from this man. He's been a foundation of knowledge. It would be a waste if I didn't spent those 12 years learning from the master, really," Wright said.
Nick Davis, who has been recreational and aquatics coordinator for eight years, said Scherer has been a joy to work with.
"He'll forget more about the parks than I'll ever know. He knows all the ins and outs," Davis said. "Pretty impressive the knowledge he has. He's been at it every day and knows what works."
Scherer won't venture far as his house is right on the west edge of Zearing Park, the walking path just a few steps from his backyard. He joked some times he'll miss work and other times he won't.
"I'll miss going in with my coworkers, staff and stuff. We have a very good relationship within the park district. We all work together as a good team," Scherer said. "I'll miss the camaraderie of that and the daily conversations. Probably going to miss that the most."