PERU - The first of January will mark the start of a new year and the start of a new chapter in the life of the Hon. Peter Keenan.
Keenan will officially step down as Peru Town Justice after serving the position for the past 24 years. Earlier this year, the Peru native decided not to seek reelection to a seventh four-year term, citing a desire to spend more time with family and to simply "not be as tied down."
"I just felt it was time," said Keenan. "Twenty-four years is a long time."
Keenan found the town justice system at a time when he was looking to get politically involved in the town. There were no town council positions available for him to run for during that election season, so, he set his sights on the judicial bench.
"I decided I wanted to get involved and at that time it was the only position available on the Democratic slate," he said.
However, Keenan's decision to run for town justice wasn't an arbitrary one. Having retired six years prior as a correction officer at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora - a career which spanned 26 years - and with a degree in criminal justice from Clinton Community College, Keenan felt he had the background to serve the position.
"It was still always a learning experience," said Keenan. "Each time there was a case, you got a little more insight."
There were many difficult cases over the years, said Keenan. The occasional murder case, which eventually moved on to a higher court, and cases involving youths were ones which didn't sit well with Keenan. However, when youths who committed crimes made efforts to change their ways, he said that was one of the greatest things to see during his time on the bench.