By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 30, 2013 at 11:10 AM Photography: Bobby Tanzilo

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele will name John Dargle new parks director at a press conference this afternoon at Kosciuszko Park. Dargle replaces interim director Jim Keegan, who took over after Abele fired previous parks boss Sue Black last August.

Dargle, who must go through the County Board confirmation process, is expected to start work next month. Dargle comes to Milwaukee the Fairfax, Va., County Park Authority, where he served as director, overseeing a $65 million operating budget and $50 million capital budget.

Under Dargle, the Fairfax authority won the prestigious Gold Medal Award in 2010 for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

"Our national search for this position brought a number of top notch candidates and among that great group, John stood out," Abele said. "John is known for his collaborative work with constituents, partners, stakeholders and government leaders. I’m excited to work with him to continue to improve our parks for decades to come."

Dargle, a Certified Park and Recreation Professional, served in the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army from 1988 to 1995 and served in the Persian Gulf War and was a helicopter pilot. He and his wife Maureen have three children.

"One of the things that most interested me in this job is County Executive Abele’s commitment to parks. At a time when many other places are cutting parks budgets, he is dedicated to improving Milwaukee County parks," Dargle said in a statement. "I look forward to working with Supervisors, other elected officials and, most importantly, the people of Milwaukee County to strengthen the gems of our community."

Dan Cody, board president of The Park People of Milwaukee County congratulated Dargle on his appointment in a separate statement.

"John has a proven track record of management of a parks system even larger than Milwaukee County’s. We’re excited to work with a Director who won a ‘Gold Medal’ for parks management in 2010 from the National Recreation and Parks Association and we hope under John’s leadership the Milwaukee County Parks Department will bring home another gold medal.

"We look forward to working with him in this new role with the common goal of maintaining and improving the Milwaukee County Parks Department. We hope for a quick confirmation by the County Board so John can get to work on behalf of our parks."