Wright City

Wright City 'excited' as it hires a new park director

By Jason Koch, Editor
Posted 7/24/23

"We are excited to have him join us and the parks board is excited as well.”

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Wright City

Wright City 'excited' as it hires a new park director


Wright City has a new parks director almost two months after its last abruptly quit in the middle of a board of alderman meeting.

Stuart Bruning officially began in the role July 17, but was announced during the July 13 board of alderman meeting.

His hiring drew praise from both the city and the parks board.

“I’m so excited,” Mayor Michelle Heiliger said during the meeting.

Bruning told aldermen he started his parks career in Wright City when he was 14, and started umpiring when he was 15.

The most recent parks director was Sports Director Eric Burton. He resigned from that position after a back-and-forth with the mayor and aldermen during the May 25 board of aldermen meeting.

“Last thing I got. It’s 7:15 if Kyle could clock me out. Today’s my last day. I’m resigning,” Burton said as he handed his keys to the director of city services, Kyle Roettger, then walked out of the room.

Alderwoman Kerry Owens said in a later interview that the city had expected Burton’s resignation, but did not expect him to resign in such a public way.

Heiliger said Bruning worked with a previous parks director, and he learned “a lot of the way parks should be run and the culture you want to build inside of a park and how to connect with the community.

“Stuart’s super passionate about all of those things,” Heiliger said. “So we are excited to have him join us and the parks board is excited as well.”

Parks Board member Kathy Kehoe conveyed the feelings of her board to the city during the meeting.

“I’m going to be super emotional. I’ve known Stuart for a long time,” Kehoe said. “I know that Stewart has a love of this community and he has a great love for the park and I’m super thrilled when he told me he applied and I’m super glad that you offered the job to him.”

Alderman Ramiz Hakim said he was fully confident that Bruning would make a great parks director.

“I think the litmus test to see how well somebody in parks will ever do is if they’re willing to invest their personal unpaid time there,” he said. “It is a labor of love whether or not you’re getting paid. He’s already shown up to a national night out meeting and he’s here tonight, not being paid. … So we are in good hands and I’m super excited.”

City hires new lieutenant, prosecuting attorney

In addition to Bruning’s hire, the city also has a new police lieutenant and prosecuting attorney.

Aaron Sutton took on the police lieutenant role also beginning July 17. 

Police Chief Tom Canavan said Sutton has been a police officer for close to two decades.

The city also hired Eric Kinnaw to be its new prosecuting attorney, replacing Rebecca Richardson.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson had appointed Richardson as an associate circuit judge for the Lincoln County 45th Judicial Circuit.

Kinnaw works in the Warren County prosecutor’s office. Richardson recommended him to the city.

“I’ve certainly had confidence in his ability to prosecute in a fair and equitable way within the city limits,” Hakim said.

“I feel like he’ll represent the city in the same mindset that we carry forward.”

About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at jason@warrencountyrecord.com

wright city, hire, park, director, job


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