"I'm going to enjoy life now," West said during a surprise retirement celebration at the Clay County Justice Center Wednesday morning. "I plan on living it up a little."
Along with some good-natured ribbing, West's colleagues presented him with a plaque, a display case of his jailer's uniform patches and badges and some refreshments.
Starting as a jailer in 1985, West worked at the Clay County Jail.
"There were four of us jailers and usually about nine (prisoners)," West said about the early days of his career when a maximum amount of 38 prisoners could be incarcerated at the jail. "We handled all the shifts."
After working every aspect of the job over the years, West is ending his career in the state-of-the-art jail facility at the Clay County Justice Center.
"I'm definitely not a man of the computer age," West said, adding the demands of the job have also changed. "It's also a lot rougher now with the amount of education needed to operate the technology and with so many more inmates than manpower."
Although trying at times, West said the job allowed him the opportunity to work with "good people."
"We're all family," he said. "I've enjoyed my 24 years here."
Looking forward to getting his hands dirty while gardening, West has also made plans to work at the jail on a part-time basis. However, retirement has some welcome perks.
"I'm really looking forward to doing what I want to do when I want to do it," he said while laughing. "Part-time will be on my time from now on."