On Jan. 1, Lana Karhoff will become a part of Callaway County history when she becomes the first woman locally to serve as a fire chief.
At a special gathering Friday night, Karhoff was named as the next chief of the North Callaway Fire Protection District, set to take over for longtime leader Harley Hyde who is retiring after 32 years with the department.
"I'm getting old and I just thought it was time someone who was younger and had fresher ideas, more energy to take over," Hyde said of his decision to retire as chief of the department he helped start.
A 29-year career firefighter for the City of Columbia, Hyde said he and a group of like-minded residents decided 32 years ago that something needed to be done to provide broader fire protection coverage in Callaway.
"We had no volunteer fire department in the county, the City of Fulton had one truck and they answered all the calls," he said. "We decided we probably needed fire protection."
After 32 years of helping provide that protection, Hyde said his favorite part of the service has been "helping the citizens of Callaway County and our neighbors." What he will miss most, however, is spending time with his crew.
"Mostly what I'll miss is just being around the volunteers," Hyde said. "I have a great bunch of people, and not being around them will be the most hard thing."
As for his plans for the future, he said he is not certain exactly what retirement is going to look like.
"I really haven't thought too much about it," Hyde said. "I'll always keep busy, and I'll keep busy somehow with the fire department - I'll probably show up on hot day with a cooler full of Gatorade.