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St. Charles County hires from within to fill county parks director position

Ryan Graham

St. Charles County didn’t have to look very far for its new parks and recreation director.

Ryan C. Graham, who has been a county parks and recreation department employee since 2007, was appointed director by County Executive Steve Ehlmann.  His appointment was approved unanimously by the County Council at its Nov. 13 meeting.

Graham, 36, has been responsible for long-term planning and day-to-day operations of the department’s historic resources and staff.  A St. Charles resident, he will become director on Nov. 27, succeeding Bette Yahn-Kramer, who is retiring.

“He’s got big shoes to fill. Parks Director Bettie Yahn-Kramer really did a wonderful job in developing our parks,” Councilmember John White [District 7] said. “I’m happy to see we’re hiring from within.”

Councilmember Joe Brazil [District 2] said he met Graham when he was running the county’s shooting range.  “What an enthusiastic employee, and just a great attitude,” Brazil said.

County Director of Administration Joann Leykam said Graham has “a lot of new ideas. He’s very much interested in programs that serve the needs of citizens of this county.”

Ehlmann said it may be closer to 11 years since Graham was hired by the county.  “I think you may have been the first person I hired after I became county executive,” Ehlmann said.  He said he was confident Graham could do the job.

Graham takes over a parks and recreation department that has grown experientially since humble beginnings in 1997.  A combination of donations and taxpayer money is responsible for a parks system that now has 12 parks open to the public and another park on 120-acres near Pitman Hill and Kisker roads under development.

County voters approved a sales tax for park operations, land acquisition and construction. Yahn-Kramer who served as director for more than 16 years, presided over the development of the park system.

The county now has 3,635 acres, of which 2,923 acres are open. In all 217 acres has real estate limitations that prevent development and 495 acres are awaiting development.

Before coming to the county, Graham was a cultural resource coordinator for the Center for State of the Parks, National Parks Conservation Association in 2006.  He worked for Tatanka Historical Associates in 2005 as a researcher for historic preservation projects in Colorado.   He also served as a cultural intern at the Eisenhower National Historic Site of the National Park Service.

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