Steamboat Springs Janice Ling would like to thank the man who introduced to her to a career in public safety.
His introduction was the beginning of a lifetime love affair with serving the public in the field and behind the scenes.
Today Ling oversees the Routt County Communications Center, the hub of all communications among law enforcement agencies in the county.
Many years ago she was a confused teenager looking for direction and something to put her energy into.
A police officer came to her high school to talk about a career in law enforcement. His appeal struck a chord with Ling, who jumped at the chance to follow a community relations officer around and observe police officers on the job.
The brief exposure to law enforcement convinced Ling that she needed to do the same.
"This gentleman has no idea how he influenced my life," she said.
She began working in a dispatch center at age 18, finished college a few years later and became a police investigator.
But the responsibilities of a family brought her back to communications, she said.
The rough and tumble world of police investigation was no longer the place for the mother of two.
A certain personality type is drawn to a career in public safety, Ling said.
"They're adrenaline junkies," she said.
And Ling considers herself one of them.
"I am a workaholic," she said. "I work six or seven days a week, and that's OK when you marry one."
Ling first heard her future husband's voice while working in the dispatch center in Longwood, Fla.
She eventually met Officer Tom Ling, but she lost touch with him when she moved from Longwood to take a different job.
She went to work several years later as a police investigator in a police department under the direction of Police Chief Tom Ling.
Then both divorced, they renewed their acquaintance and fell in love.
"When it became serious, one of us had to go," Janice Ling said laughingly. "And it certainly wasn't going to be the chief."
The couple married in 1986, and she left the police department to work in another county.
Tom and Janice Ling moved to the Yampa Valley last spring, when Tom Ling took over as police chief of the town of Oak Creek.
Janice Ling filled the position of director of the Routt County Communications Department.
The county position had not been filled for a year and a half before Ling arrived, County Manager Tom Sullivan said.
Several directors had come and gone, and the county had not found a suitable candidate to head the department, he added.
Ling filled that void and has since successfully guided communications for the county, Sullivan said.
Directors of dispatch centers face the constant challenge of motivating their employees, he said, and Ling has managed to offer that encouragement.
"She always providing new avenues to motivate her staff," he said.
Ling admits that burnout can come easily to those who constantly field emergency calls.
The job comes with its frustrations, she said, but the rewards far outweigh anything negative.
The chance to be a part of helping people behind the scenes in the dispatch center and on the field as a police officer has motivated her decision to work in public safety for more than 30 years.
But soon the adrenaline junkie will be taking a step back from all the action.
Ling submitted her resignation June 18.
She and her husband will be leaving Routt County to move closer to family in Florida.
Ling intends to remain in her position until the county hires a new director.
She hopes that in staying, she can support a smooth transition of directors, as well as devote her attention to a number of projects that are slated for completion within the next three to four months.
Her time with Routt County has been a privilege, she said.
The people who benefited from her love for the job and would say the same thing.