After four decades of public service, including 15 years as the City Street Department Director for the City of Clarksville, David Shepard is retiring on April 27.
"It has been a tremendous honor and the most rewarding experience of my life to have served the City of Clarksville over the last 43 years," Shepard said. "I am beyond grateful to the citizens, department heads, elected leaders, but most of all my colleagues here at the Street Department, for their unwavering trust and for allowing me to live my purpose and passion every day with such support and generosity. Everyone has been wonderful, and I'm truly going to miss them."
Shepard began his career with the City in 1978 as a part-time employee for the Street Department and worked his way up, serving in several roles, including Interim Director at the Street Department in 2004 before being appointed Director in November 2007.
As the director, Shepard oversees over 90 employees and a budget of over $17 million. He is also responsible for long-range planning related to constructing and maintaining streets and structures, preparing and managing the department's budget, designing and reviewing operational and financial reports, and supervising street management.
During his tenure with the City, Shepard has witnessed Clarksville's dynamic transformations, both in infrastructure and population growth. He served the City during the terms of five mayors: Ted Crozier Sr., Don Trotter, Johnny Piper, Kim McMillan, and now Mayor Joe Pitts.
While working with the City, Shepard encountered numerous challenges and triumphs, including partaking in the cleanup and recovery efforts of the F3 tornado that struck Clarksville in January 1999 and the May 2010 flood that devastated the City with nearly a foot of rainfall. In October 2019, a windstorm caused damage to the City; however, Shepard and his team flawlessly staged a massive cleanup effort to support the community over several weeks.
Under Shepard's leadership, his department has also provided additional assistance to the City's neighboring communities during times of need.
In August 2021, the Street Department deployed workers and equipment to Humphreys County to assist with relief efforts after severe flash flooding ravaged the Waverly and McEwen communities. Most recently, Shepard's quick planning and execution supported the cleaning and clearing efforts in Dickson County following the powerful storms and tornados that tracked across parts of Middle Tennessee.
Under the direction of City Mayor Joe Pitts, many notable projects have occupied Shepard and his team over the last two years, specifically Transportation 2020+, a comprehensive plan that prioritizes the needs of City streets, sidewalks, greenways, and public transportation over the next 20 years.
"David brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and expertise to City planning," Mayor Pitts said. "His keen understanding of our landscape and collaboration helped guide our vision for the City's transportation plan. His legacy and commitment are ingrained in every facet of the City, and for that, we thank him."
County Mayor Jim Durrett, who worked side-by-side with Shepard in the Street Department for over 20 years, describes him as the epitome of a public servant.
"David is someone who never wants the limelight, but he is always there, every day, serving this community," he said. "Whether it was shoveling asphalt, walking in waist-deep water placing sandbags, or leading the way after a major weather event, David was there. The people of this community will never know how much he poured his heart and soul into his job. There is probably not a road, drainage ditch, or street sign in this community that David has not touched in some way."
Mayor Pitts agreed with Mayor Durrett's sentiment, adding that "without a doubt, David helped build the City of Clarksville. We'll be sad to see David go."
The recruitment process to fill the Street Department Director position starts today. All qualified applicants are asked to submit their applications using the City portal. Ultimately, Mayor Pitts will appoint a new director, subject to City Council confirmation. For more information about the vacancy, visit https://tinyurl.com/2p8heh6p.
Shepard's plans post-retirement include spending much-needed time with his grandchildren and taking one day at a time.