Sheriff Bill Baird, who has been serving Runnels County for the past 33 years, will be hanging up his badge at the end of this month.

Sheriff Bill Baird, who has been serving Runnels County for the past 33 years, will be hanging up his badge at the end of this month.

Baird will officially retire on Dec. 31 and Sgt. Carl Squyres, who was elected sheriff in the March primary election, will officially be sworn in on January 1, 2017. Baird will be honored at a retirement party from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the parish hall at St. Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic Church.

Baird has had an unusually long reign as the Runnels County Sheriff, being appointed in 1982, following Sheriff Hershel Hall’s departure. Prior to that, he worked for the Ballinger Police Department, starting in 1976, and later as a deputy for the Runnels County S.O.

Baird, 68, said he is ready to retire and pin the badge on his successor.

“It’s time,” he said.

While you can’t call Baird a Runnels County native, you almost can. He moved to Ballinger from Dodge City, Kansas with his parents Dale and Evelyn when he was one year old.

And he and his family have left an indelible mark on Runnels County. His father Dale, built the Texas Grill and Baird grew up there and even cooked there while he was in high school.

“I still cook to this day,” Baird quipped.

He is a Ballinger High School graduate and he and his wife Sharon, of 33 years, still live in the home he grew up in as a child.

He counts the Runnels County Jail, which opened in 1999, as one of his greatest contributions to the county.

“Prior to that we were in the other jail (near the courthouse) which only held 17 prisoners,” Baird said.

The new jail would open March 10, 1999 and has 87 beds.

“They said it should last 100 years,” Baird said.

Over his four decades in law enforcement, Baird has handled and solved numerous cases.

“We had a case where the guy killed a woman’s boyfriend then kidnapped her,” Baird recalled.

“We also had a case where a woman’s decomposed body was found out on Highway 158. We got those solved.”

He remembered the day the bank in Miles was robbed too.

“The guy plead out to 99 years on that one,” Baird said.

But overall, it is the children who touch Baird’s heart.

“When you help a child get out of a bad situation that is the best thing you can do,” Baird said. “Helping children is the most satisfying.”

And, he practices what he preaches. Throughout his time as sheriff Baird has held a Christmas Toy Drive every year. Last year, he and his staff took donations from the community and provided toys and clothing to more than 400 Runnels County children. Baird, has two sons, Travis currently works for the Ballinger Police Department and Mark who works for the State of Texas, will likely be spending time with his family and his two young grandchildren. Overall, Baird said he wants to thank the community for supporting him in the eight elections that he ran. He had two opponents in one race and three in another, but he was always re-elected.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve all these years as your sheriff,” Baird said.