TRC appoints former El Dorado director
Gayle Parker is back in the recreation business.
Parker, who lives in El Dorado, is returning to the recreation business after being named Tonganoxie Recreation Commission director earlier this month.
Five years ago, Parker had made a career change and began work for New York Life in El Dorado, after more than 20 years in recreational services.
Next week, he will begin work as the replacement to Mark Zerrer, who resigned recently. Parker's salary will be $45,000 as TRC director.
"I missed it," Parker said Monday. "I'm looking forward to it. It will be fun to get back into it."
The Fredonia native is a 1977 Emporia State University graduate with a degree in recreation and legal services. After ESU, Parker began an internship at United Methodist Youthville in Newton that eventually became his first full-time position. Parker worked as activities director on the Newton campus for six years. Youthville primarily serves children who are emotionally disturbed and are wards of the court.
"It was pretty tough," Parker said. "That was a great learning experience dealing and working with people in that setting."
Parker later became sports director for the Newton Recreation Commission for two years before spending nearly 14 years as director of the El Dorado Recreation Commission. He then joined New York Life because he thought he wanted a career change.
"I've got kind of an extensive background in recreation with a sidetrack," Parker said.
TRC board chairman Ken Mark said Parker's history was key in his hire.
"The TRC felt that we are in a stage of our development where it was important to hire someone with a lot of experience," Mark said. "We believed that he and Dustin Delaney, our assistant director, will help our existing programs to grow and that they will also be creative and think of new programs for us to offer."
In the coming weeks, Parker wants to visit each Tonganoxie business with Delaney to become acquainted and gauge some of the community's needs.
"It's important to come into the community and find out what they're happy with and not happy with," Parker said. "I'm going to have ideas, but I'm not going to come in and force-feed those ideas."
While with El Dorado's rec commission, Parker was involved on the state level as a board member for the Kansas Recreation and Park Association. Parker said he has been asked to be on the board again, but he "told them to hold off a little bit."
Parker and his wife, Chris, are moving to Tonganoxie with their two dogs and two cats. The couple have a son, Dillon, 22, who lives in El Dorado.
On Monday, Parker will be back in a familiar position in a new community.
"Just because I've been gone five years doesn't mean I've forgotten everything," Parker said. "I'm excited to be there."