Allen Staffers Serve Their Community

Zeth DePriest

Allen Community College has three staff members who hold positions in public seats on different boards to benefit Iola. Doug Dunlap who is a member of the USD 257 school board, Jon Wells,the mayor of Iola, and Nancy Ford, president of the Iola City Council.

Doug Dunlap

Zeth DePriest

Doug Dunlap is the director of Information Technology at Allen. Dunlap has been on the USD 257 Board of Education for 10 years. He decided to run for the school board upon recommendation from his neighbor, Mary Kay Heard, a board member for Allen.

“I was at their place of business when she came up and told me that my wife or myself should run for a seat on the board,” Dunlap said. “I had three kids, one in elementary school at the time, one in middle school, and one in high school. So it made a lot of sense for me to at least know what was going on with the school district.”

Dunlap is on the final two years of his term.

“My kids are all grown up now,” Dunlap said. “I am hoping for someone who still has a dog in the fight (to take my place), someone who is going to be passionate about it for their kids by doing what’s right for them.”

Dunlap emotionally reflected back on what made his years on the board worth it.

“ I got to watch them grow up,” Dunlap said of his children. “I got to give my kids their diplomas, and that was a pretty cool thing.”

Jon Wells

Zeth DePriest

Jonathan Wells is the history and political science instructor at Allen, and is on the City Council, in addition to being the mayor of Iola.

“I never intended to be on the City Council as I sort of fell into it.” Wells said. “There was an opening and some friends told me that I should apply for it, which I did and was accepted. I turned out to really like it, and I did a good enough job that I ran and was elected mayor.”

Wells remarked that he is excited to see how the town continues to grow during his term as mayor.

“I want to see Iola become sustainable. We have been looking at bringing in solar energy along with trying to start recycling city-wide,” said Wells. “As Iola becomes more sustainable, the more eco friendly we become, and the more competitive we are, the more attractive we are to new businesses.”

Iola has also had a youth movement within its legislative body, something Wells feels rewarding about his work.

“The council used to be a board for retirees,” Wells said. “Seeing that younger people are running for positions and taking on more responsibilities and ownership of their community makes me feel like we are making Iola better, because the younger citizens are wanting to make a claim for the community.”

Nancy Ford

Zeth DePriest

Nancy Ford is the public relations coordinator at Allen. Ford is on Iola’s City Council. She and her family are known around the community for their public service. When Ford first ran she was defeated by Bill Shirley, a history teacher at Allen.

“You know it wasn’t too bad to be defeated by Mr. Shirley,” said Ford. “He told me to keep trying, and at first I wasn’t so sure about it but I did!”

Ford enjoys being involved in her community and speaking for her community when anyone has issues that can be addressed at the council meetings.

“Back several years ago when they were trying to get the backyard chicken ordinance passed, two kids in 4-H came to every member, to the council, and they talked to us and they had a good argument,” said Ford. “ When it failed the boys were heart broken and it made me upset to see them upset, but I was able to learn more about the city and more about how our local government runs and operates.”

Ford also went on to state the difficult parts of being on the council.

“I hate having to make the tough decisions, but they are ones that need to be made,” said Ford. “We have to make unpopular decisions sometimes so that we can pay the bills and keep Iola growing.”