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New Director To Take On Leadership of Milwaukee County Parks

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Susan Bence
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Guy Smith at Jacobus Park

Late last week County Executive Chris Abele appointed long-time parks employee Guy Smith to become director. Smith has experience at several levels within the Milwaukee County Parks.

First starting in 2004 as trails coordinator, Smith quickly grew into supervision and management and transitioned to several roles within the department - including deputy regional manager of land resources and chief of operations.

When then director John Dargle resigned late last November, Smith was tapped to fill in as interim director.

Abele later named Jim Sullivan of the County’s child support services department to the top parks post. But that idea faced stiff opposition and was withdrawn, putting Guy Smith back into the interim director role.

If approved, Smith faces a challenging job.

For all its beauty and size, the Milwaukee County Parks system faces challenges – not the least of which, is funding.

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Credit Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio
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Milwaukee Public Radio
Guy Smith thinks beer gardens, like the traveling one that set up in Jacobus Park last weekend, will play a role in stabilizing the financial future of the county park system.

Smith says he envisions partnerships as key to the park system's future. "We want to be able to provide that at low cost, and some of our things are no cost. It is hard to balance with our difficult financial times, how is that the best way to work?"

Before Smith can officially become director, he needs the green light from the Parks, Energy and Environment Committee. It is due to take up Smith’s appointment this afternoon.

The full Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors must then also give its blessing.

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.