Dryden to be interim general mgr. at WMU

Just weeks after graduating high school in 1989, Kenneth “Duke” Dryden left his hometown of Winchester.

Dryden enlisted in the Marines and served for four years, during which he worked as a forward observer and moved around from Parris Island to Okinawa, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hawaii, California and more.

“It seems like so long ago,” Dryden said.

But he couldn’t stay away from Winchester for too long, he said. He loved his hometown and the people here.

When Dryden returned to Winchester, he first worked for a survey company before receiving a phone call from a friend of his high school graduating class. His friend told him about an opening at Winchester Municipal Utilities, so Dryden put in an application and got the job.

Dryden said about eight from the class of 1989 worked at WMU at one time, which he said is a testament to how much they loved their hometown too.

Dryden started as a crewman in the sewer collection department in 1996, and over the years, he gradually moved up the ladder: crewman to engineering technician, engineering supervisor and to his current job as director of engineering and operations, which he has been in since about 2011.

“It’s good not to forget where you’re from,” Dryden said.

Now, after 23 years at WMU, Dryden is climbing one more rung to interim general manager beginning April 1, replacing Mike Flynn, who is retiring.

“In the scheme of things, I followed in (Flynn’s) footsteps,” Dryden said. “ … I’ve followed his lead.”

Dryden will act as interim general manager for six months, April to October. During the interim, Dryden said he would oversee the continuation of the new water plant construction and other special projects as well as WMU’s daily operations.

“It’s quite a bit,” he said. “The relationships with the local government, city manager, Public Works … maintaining those and just maintaining that balance.”

Over the years, Dryden said he has seen a lot of growth with new wastewater plants, innovative technologies and more.

“Building water infrastructure and sewer and doing those type projects, it’s just kind of kept us motivated to move forward,” he said.

Dryden said the Kentucky Division of Water has often told other utility companies to look at WMU as an excellent example of how various programs should operate. Dryden said many communities could go 30 years without ever seeing any growth as far as big projects such as a new water plant.

WMU also works cohesively with other entities in the community such as the Winchester-Clark County Industrial Authority to ensure it can handle continuing growth throughout the community, he said.

“We’ve grown quite a bit,” Dryden said. “And we’ve done this not to impede growth, but to welcome growth.”

In the interim, Dryden said he hopes to learn as much as can about the general manager position and to keep things moving in the direction Flynn set. Dryden has been preparing for the job under Flynn’s guidance for weeks

“I’ve been coming to this building for 23 years, and it’s nothing new to me,” Dryden said. “It’s a new position, and I can say that I’ve stepped up several times and there’s always going to be hidden surprises, but that’s just the nature of this business.”

Dryden said he plans to apply for general manager if he determines the position to be a good fit for him and his family while working in the interim position.

Outside of work, Dryden is involved in his church, Christview Christian Church, and also likes to cook. He also enjoys spending time with his four stepchildren and his wife of 11 years.

Dryden said the interim position would also allow him to show WMU and others he has what it takes to be successful as a general manager.

“How often do you get that chance to move up and take a job and do it for six months, and if you decide it’s not for you, you can go back to your old job … you don’t get that chance very often. So I thought that was a good opportunity,” he said.

Dryden said he hopes to be responsive to the needs of the community and to always look for ways to improve WMU and himself.

“You’re just being a servant to the public,” he said.