As Lee Krohn bid the town of Shelburne goodbye after five years, he called his time as its town manager an “honor” and an “adventure.”

More than 50 residents, committee members and town officials gathered in Shelburne’s historic town hall on Wednesday to express gratitude and exchange parting words to Krohn for his years of service to the town during a time of great uncertainty and change.

Krohn was hired in December 2018 as Shelburne’s town manager after a 7-month stint as interim manager and after nearly 24 years working in the town of Manchester in a variety of roles, including interim town manager, planning director, zoning administrator, tree warden and E911 coordinator.

Krohn said his last week on the job has been hectic and, at the same time, slightly unsettling to think that after so many years, the moment has come for him to remove the many different hats he has worn over the years.

“I’ve put my heart and soul into this job and every job I’ve ever had,” he said. “To suddenly, start thinking about stepping away from it is somewhat unsettling. This week I was feeling really nervous coming into it because I have been doing my very best to clear the decks and clean up as many outstanding issues as possible before I walk out the door and leave.”

With a background in forestry and environmental management, Krohn says his interests, which land at the intersection of law, policy and practice, led to a slew of different jobs, including as senior planner with Chittenden County Regional Planning, volunteer planning commission member and, of course, a town manager.

“I always thought there needed to be somebody in the middle who understood enough about policy, engineering, environmental issues and construction management and all the rest of all those things who could bring all those pieces and players together to help good things happen,” he said. “I didn’t know what profession that might lead to.”

“Local, municipal government has always been really where the boots on the ground things happen. I always wanted to be where the action was. Not just in words, but in actual implementation,” he said.

While not easy, Krohn said that part of the magic of the everyday work is that he gets to see big projects come to fruition, like the Pierson Library project.

“I’ve managed big projects before, so I stepped right in to help that happen,” he said. “Another time when we had the sewer line replacement project on Harbor Road and part of the sidewalk wasn’t built properly. So I said, ‘what if we replace that piece of sidewalk now?’ We’re already tearing up the road, the contractors are already on site. It’ll probably cost us a lot less to do it together than to wait another year or two.”

Apart from just managing the demanding minutiae of municipal work, Krohn also led the town through the complexities and trials of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You’ll recall back what seems like a million years ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic really hit, there was all kinds of anxiety and apprehension and fear and uncertainty,” finance committee chair Don Porter said at the community event. “In all that chaos, there was one very steady hand, and that was Lee Krohn. He was not fazed by pandemics or anything else, just full speed ahead. So that’s to me the nature of a very able leader, having that firm hand on the tiller and a firm hand on the camera to guide his community.”

While also serving in the town manager role, Krohn has also been a dedicated volunteer of Shelburne’s fire department — a role he plans to stay committed to after he leaves his municipal role.

“Over your tenure, I have witnessed firsthand your dedication to the members of this community and the sacrifices you have made serving the people of Shelburne,” fire chief John Goodrich said. “Your steady hand was always a reassuring presence in often uncertain times. On top of your commitment to the role of town manager, you will continue to be an integral member of the fire department.

“Your most important and lasting contribution to the town and the fire department may well be your contagious good humor and deep commitment to public service. You exude these qualities and by doing so raise the spirit and morale wherever you go.”

Mike Ashooh, chair of the selectboard, offered closing remarks at the gathering on behalf of the selectboard and himself.

“In my time working with Lee he’s always been a respectful, kind, truly dedicated civil servant who puts the town above his own needs and throughout the past year, as we began to transition to a new town manager, Lee’s professionalism and commitment to the town trumped all the other concerns.”

Although he has no definite plans, other than to take a much-needed summer vacation, Krohn hopes to continue to be involved in the community on a much lighter scale while also continuing to pursue his passion behind the camera lens.

“Maybe there’ll be some part-time consulting work, maybe I’ll go back to my part-time professional photography that I had pursued for many years,” he said.

In terms of the staff and officials in Shelburne, “it’s a great team here,” he said. “The ship will continue to sail, but I want to do my best when I jump off the deck to have the ship headed in the right direction as best as I can and have faith others will carry on.”

After a five-month-long search, Shelburne’s new town manager, Matt Lawless, is set to take the reins in June.

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