Officials both new and old took their seats in Leavenworth County’s government Monday, after ushering forth those stepping down.
Officials both new and old took their seats in Leavenworth County’s government Monday, after ushering forth those stepping down. Those with newly won seats following victories in the November General Election included Sheriff Andy Dedeke, 3rd District County Commissioner Dennis Bixby and County Treasurer Janice Van Parys, who was sworn in despite the fact that she will not take office until fall this year. They were joined by 2nd District Commissioner Clyde Graeber, County Clerk Janet Klasinski, County Attorney Todd Thompson and Register of Deeds Stacy Driscoll, all of whom were re-elected to their respective positions in November. One by one, all of them were sworn in by District Court Judge Gunnar Sundby, who himself was one of three district judges sworn in after a retention vote. Those who were leaving office were also honored. Graeber gave an award to outgoing sheriff Dave Zoellner, who was retiring after not only eight years as sheriff, but 44 years in law enforcement. After Graeber pointed out Zoellner’s leadership on finishing the Justice Center jail renovation project and the countywide emergency communication system upgrade, Zoellner thanked those in the audience for their support during his tenure. “Leavenworth County has been good to me,” he said. Despite the fact that he said his first days in the sheriff’s office felt like “yesterday,” Zoellner said things like technology have changed the job somewhat. However, he said he still loved law enforcement and the community. “I’m going to stay here. I wouldn’t leave,” he said. Following his swearing in, incoming Sheriff Andy Dedeke also thanked those who had helped him get to where he was. “I’m moved that so many of you took the time out of your day to share my special moment,” he said. And Dedeke, who Zoellner said might be the most knowledgeable new sheriff ever because of his previous experience, said he was eager to get to work. “I’m excited to be able to work with the great people that make up the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office,” as well as the other elected officials, Dedeke said. Outgoing Commissioner John Flower, first elected in 2008, said he appreciated the opportunity to serve. Having lived for years in larger cities like San Antonio, Texas, and St. Louis, he said he remembered a distinctly different feeling upon arriving in Leavenworth County. “When I moved to Basehor, it seemed there was an opening to listen to other points of view, and I found that you could participate,” in local government, he said. While the commission didn’t accomplish everything that he hoped they would during his tenure, Flower said there were things that he was happy to have been a part of — including landing the 400 jobs of the Veterans Affairs Consolidated Patient Account Center and the more recent passage of the commission’s long-term road priorities list. He said there is more to do, especially in setting up for and managing development in the county that he said he feels is inevitable. Graeber commended his fellow commissioner for changing the outlook of the commission. “I have enjoyed working with you,” he said. “We’ve been talking a lot and you’ve brought a lot to this commission in that we’ve learned to look more in-depth at what we should be doing and how we’re spending money, how we allocate it, how we budget it. You’ve brought a lot to this commission.” Flower’s successor, Dennis Bixby, said following his swearing in that he hoped he could continue that work. Bixby emphasized that he would represent all county residents even though it was the voters of the 3rd District who sent him to the courthouse. “I do not take your trust lightly, I hope to build on that for the next four years,” he said. Though incoming County Treasurer Janice Van Parys will not take her seat for months because of the way that her statutory duties fall, she was nevertheless sworn in Monday as well. Hands shaking from nerves, she thanked those who helped her along the way to her current position, including retiring treasurer Janice Young, and her husband, County Counselor David Van Parys. “He went to every meeting with me, and it’s so nice to look across the room when I was nervous like right now and know that he was there,” she said.