LAST Friday marked the end of an era for Wattle Range Council.
Frank Brennan - the only CEO the council has ever known - rode off into the sunset after more than three decades in the local government game.
"The time is now," Frank told the Herald. "I think I'm happy within myself - there's a bit of sadness, but it's time to move on."
Frank started work with Millicent District Council after completing a university degree in town planning.
He was working with a cousin driving a wool truck and was approached by the council because of his skills in surveying.
He was initially hired for three months and "basically I never left".
He started working for the council in outside works - digging graves, riding rubbish trucks and spending time on the end of a shovel.
"Most people think we used to just lean on them (the shovels) - that's only partly true," Frank reminisced.
He spent 12 months on outside works before the role of technical officer was developed, where Frank's education and surveying skills came into more use. It was all done by hand in those days rather than by computer.
Council staff suggested Frank partake in further education and he followed through - attaining a diploma in local government administration by correspondence.
After this Frank moved up the ranks to be appointed CEO on August 4, 1988 when Ern Altschwager was the mayor of the Millicent District Council.
In his long career as CEO Frank would work with a further six mayors, and they have all had an influence on the way Frank would do business.
"They all have an impact on the way you do your work," he said. "But it's reciprocal - you take some things and you give."
One mayor that has certainly made an impact on Frank is the late Don Ferguson - Wattle Range Council's inaugural mayor.
"He was the most outstanding person I've ever worked with," Frank said, attributing a great deal of the "success" of the 1997 amalgamation to him.
Such a long time as CEO has posed many challenges to Frank - from the Millicent District Council days with the Visitor Information Centre, the public library and the foreshore erosion at Southend, to the issues from the amalgamation onwards.
The amalgamation itself was a big issue.
At the time a section of the communities in the district councils of Millicent, Penola and Beachport were dead against the merger.
"Everyone's entitled to their view - but council is elected to make these decisions," Frank said.
"The decision is made and amalgamation has occurred - you can't wind back the clock."
The Penola Bypass has been an issue since long before Frank came to council - before he was born even - but Frank has overseen the time period where the project has come along to its furthermost point.
It has also come under intense scrutiny from sections of the public.
"Again, the decision has been made," Frank said. "When it's all built and operational people will grow to not necessarily like it, but accept it."
He admitted dealing with landowners in regards to the acquisition of their land by council has been challenging.
"Sometimes that leads to some conflict," he said.
When he first announced his retirement, Frank told the Herald about being CEO "One day it's the greatest job in the world, other days it is the worst."
And he has stuck by that statement.
"I think it's the same for any job," he said. "The good always outweighs the bad."
When asked what he'd miss the most about working for council it was a no-brainer for Frank.
"I'll miss the people, particularly the staff I've worked with over the years," he said.
There is one person who will especially be missed - his personal assistant Cathy Bell.
"She's looked after me like a motherless calf over the years," Frank said.
He hopes to retain many of the friendships built through work now that he is finished.
But there is one other thing that will be missed - a thing that has grown to be typical of Frank Brennan.
"I'll miss some of the thrust and parry - it keeps me invigorated," Frank concluded.
Wattle Range mayor Peter Gandolfi backed up that statement when he spoke to the Herald after Frank's retirement announcement - given to council at their June 2012 meeting.
Mr Gandolfi first met Frank on the basketball court and immediately had a feel for the type of politician the latter would be.
"Frank didn't mind a bit of rough and tumble on the basketball court, much like his approach to local government," he said. "He has shown a lot of passion."
Frank may have left the council but he isn't fully retired yet - last November he took over from former Wattle Range mayor Mark Braes as the presiding member of the SE Natural Resources Management Board.
He will now have more time to focus on this role, looking at a landscape view of natural resources in the SE.