Operations supervisor appreciates chance to work in parks

Scott Swanson

Kevin Hamilton wasn’t really planning to wear the hat he has on now – but it was the opportunity of a lifetime, he says.

Hamilton is Linn County Parks and Recreation Department’s new operations supervisor, responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the widely varied recreational facilities owned and operated by the county.

“It’s such a dynamic position,” said Hamilton, 44. “Linn County Parks is such a dynamic operation, so diverse. We have full-service campgrounds like Sunnyside and Waterloo, and then we have McDowell Creek with the waterfalls – I’ve been going there for years as a user. Further out, we have parks providing access to the rivers. It’s just a diversity of activities.”

Hamilton is responsible for eight of the department’s 11-person staff and also supervises many of the 30-plus seasonal summer employees who help maintain the parks and staff the entry kiosks.

He replaced Richard Frick, who retired late last year after 27 years with the county.

Hamilton is almost a native Oregonian, moving here from Virginia when he was a year old.

“My mom had fallen in love with Sunriver and I lived there until I was about 7,” he said. He grew up in various Northwest communities, joining the Navy after graduating from high school in Washington. He served as a machinist’s mate second class on a fast-attack submarine.

In the early 1990s Hamilton attended Oregon State University, then earned a civil engineering technician’s certificate from Linn-Benton Community College and finished a CET degree at Chemeketa Community College. He got a job with the Linn County Road Department as an engineering tech, eventually managing the county’s pavement overlay (repaving) program.

“I understand asphalt,” Hamilton said.

He worked on the construction of River Bend Campground in 2006.

He left the county in 2007 to work for the city of Albany, which, he said, “enticed” him away. He eventually wound up as construction management supervisor for the city.

Last July, after the graduation of their youngest son from high school, Hamilton and his wife Vickie decided to take a “mid-life break while we were young and healthy.” Soon after, he discovered that Frick was planning to retire.

“I was very familiar with the parks as a customer,” said Hamilton, who enjoys hiking, camping and other such activities. “I love the outdoors.

“I saw (parks operations supervisor) as a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was very fond of Linn County Parks. I couldn’t allow the opportunity to pass without applying for it.”

Hamilton said his love of the outdoors, along with his previous employment experience, have helped him fit into the position.

“Years ago I got my boating license, and we have floating restrooms on Green Peter and the ski dock on Foster, and booms for tying up boats. I’ve done lots of metal work and I’ve always been a handyman mechanic. I like to tinker on mechanical equipment and we have a fleet of vehicles – tractors, mowers, engines.

“It’s nice to be involved in that.”