Wisland Parks has a record of service that is second to none, and a peek into his life since he entered this world in 1929 reveals an impressive track record.
Few young people traversing the Toevlugt/Patentia community would guess that in his younger days Parks had worked in the sugar estate. Then he handled bags full of sugar, loading them onto trolleys to be conveyed to the Demerara River en route to Port Georgetown for export.
However, Parks is perhaps known to villagers as one of the local government councillors who tried his best to promote progressive activities in his West Bank community.
And he was one of the youngest councillors in the Goed-Intent/Sisters Local Authority. He was always active in serving his community and came to be known for his tremendous inputs at social gatherings such as Christmas parties.
Apart from serving as a councillor in Sisters/Goed-Intent he was well known for spearheading self-help work in his community. Two notable projects were his contribution to the Long Pond Self-Help Road, later known as the Middle Street Self-Help Road, and the building of a section of the Wales Canadian Mission School, which later became the Wales Government School.
In the area of local government there were still more challenges for the village leader. He was a live wire among the village district group who initiated the opening of several village streets, some of them bearing the names of councillors.
Kissoon Street and Bindraban Streets were named after two of the longest-serving councillors in the community. Another famous street is Gunraj Street, named after a businessman who not only started a grocery store but established one of the first cinemas in the area.
Meanwhile, the Mini Marshall Plan was implemented in some stages and elections were held under the Municipal and District Council Acts. A number of representatives of the La Retraite Village Council from the Stanleytown District Council and the Goed-Intent District Council were elected, and the areas of BelleVue and Wales were incorporated to make up the Toevlugt/Patentia District Council. The veteran popularly known as Mr. Bruyning, an overseer in the Stanleytown area, was made the Council’s Chief Executive Officer while Whitman Hodge, a former overseer at Goed-Intent/Sisters became the Chief Finance Officer.
Oslyn King was taken on by the council to take up the position of Chief Works Officer while the Finance Committee and the Works Committee carried out the operations of the council.
Parks recalled that he was saddled with the responsibility of the chairmen when elected chairman, Benjimen Petrie had to be out of the country. Subsequently Parks became chairman of the District Council and focused his energies on improving drainage in the agricultural community.
He enjoyed over 18 years of service to the District Council. Throughout these years, Parks had the added responsibility of being a Regional Councillor.
Parks was also chosen as Manager of the Bel-Lu Clay Brick Factory, designed to utilize local earth for the manufacture of clay bricks in the building boon at that time.
Prior to the establishment of the Clay Brick Factory, clay bricks were imported to Guyana to provide ballast for the relatively empty vessels that came here to transship Guyanese products such as sugar and molasses.
Soon these bricks proved useful and were utilized in making buildings. The Chinese were credited with assisting Guyanese to develop the skill of making clay bricks on an economic scale.
Two clay brick jobs that are still evident is the driveway on either side of the approaches to the Demerara Harbour Bridge and the National Insurance Scheme building.
Food distribution was another responsibility that fell into the lap of Parks when he was head of the West Demerara Supply Centre. This position was quite testing since the demand outstripped the supplies. However, his task was to coordinate the flow of supplies to residents from Vriesland on the West Bank to the Essequibo Islands, taking in of course Leguan and Wakenaam and Leguan. And his specialty, community service, enabled him to pass the test with flying colours.