Parks sees Jefferson County as a ‘great fit’ for him
by Rick Nichols
About to be married, Dustin Parks jumped at the chance to apply for the position of Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Administrator after his fiancee received a job offer from Atchison’s MGP Ingredients Inc., “a leading supplier of premium distilled spirits and specialty wheat proteins and starches” (company website).
One of three applicants the Board of County Commissioners interviewed in its efforts to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Sam Henderson early last month, the 31-year-old Parks apparently impressed Commissioners Wayne Ledbetter, Richard Malm and Lynn Luck to the point where they were willing to entrust him with the responsibilities associated with the position, so they subsequently gave him a contract to sign, which he did. Soon to be 32 – his birthday is Oct. 30 – he began working for the county Sept. 12.
Parks and his fiancee, Krista, are planning to “tie the knot,” as they say, Oct. 15. She is MGP’s new director of microbiology.
“When I heard about the open position here at Jefferson County, I did some research on the county and knew that it would be a great fit for Krista and myself,” Parks told the paper last Thursday in an email. “The timing of the opening, the work environment, and desired skill sets could not have been a better match. This whole adventure has been serendipitous and I feel both honored and privileged that the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners has given me this opportunity to continue working in a field that I enjoy. I look forward to the challenges ahead as well discovering solutions to those challenges.”
Parks comes to this county from Dickinson County, where he was the county’s planning, zoning and floodplain administrator. “I handled several of the same situations that will arise or have already arisen in Jefferson County,” he said.
Parks had been employed by Dickinson County for more than six years when he decided to become this county’s planning and zoning administrator, but he doesn’t anticipate having to make much of an adjustment in making the move from north central Kansas to northeast Kansas. “Not only are both counties’ regulations very similar, Dickinson County and Jefferson County both share a population of around 20,000 people and both are primarily agriculturally driven,” he pointed out.
Raised in rural Dickinson County, Parks has spent all but four years of his life in the Abilene area. The four years he didn’t spend in “Eisenhower country” found him living in Denver. “Growing up on a farm, I was raised with an appreciation for agriculture and so finding a position close to Krista’s new career and being allowed to continue as a planning and zoning administrator in a rural community is definitely a blessing,” he said.
Parks is a certified floodplain manager through the Association of State Floodplain Managers, of which he is a member. He also belongs to the Kansas Association of Floodplain Managers and the Kansas Association of County Planning and Zoning Officials.
A 2003 graduate of Chapman High School, Parks is currently enrolled at Cloud County Community College in Concordia so he can get his general education classes “out of the way” before transferring to a yet-to-be-determined four-year university. He indicated to the paper that the degree he will be pursuing at that point will center around public management and civil engineering.
Parks, who describes himself as a “nerdy problem solver,” enjoys working on websites, repairing computers and “frequently” fiddling with “gadgets,” as he calls them. “I’m a pretty big nerd and proud of it,” he remarked.
But Parks also finds time to take walks with his wife-to-be, during which they explore their new neighborhood. They are accompanied on these outings by two dogs, Winston, a Great Dane/boxer mix, and Nova, a 13-year-old black Labrador.
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