Jun 01

A Message from the County Executive: Steps in the Right Direction

Posted on June 1, 2023 at 9:08 AM by Bryanna Hartmann

The resignation of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, and the appointment of Gabe Gore to replace her by Gov. Mike Parson, is a step in the right direction in our region’s problem with crime. But there’s much more to do. As I’ve often said lately, Garner leaving will stop the bleed, but it won’t heal the wound. 

We have been in much need of a plan to work as a regional team, and I believe that we now can begin to get somewhere. The region’s leaders agree on that and met recently for a regional crime summit organized by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. I was encouraged that local political and law enforcement leaders, and business and educational executives gathered to discuss the escalating violence and number of murders.  

Some may see this as just a St. Louis City problem because that’s where most of the crimes are being committed. But while St. Charles County’s crime rate is the lowest in the region (see graph), 70 percent of our criminals are from outside our county. As a region, we must work together to find a solution, but as a county, we must continue to be vigilant.

crime blog chartIn St. Charles County, we are diligent and tougher on crime than our surrounding communities. Long-term programs and solutions are important but finding a way to get a handle on problems and dangers occurring right now will help us move toward those goals. The County has set a prime example of tackling the immediate issue of auto thefts and break-ins.

After an increase in auto thefts and auto break-ins in 2020, we initiated the Criminal Interdiction Task Force (CITF) in early 2021. The St. Charles County Police Department is joined by police departments in the cities of St. Charles, St. Peters, O’Fallon, Lake Saint Louis, Wentzville and Cottleville, as well as the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department and Department of Corrections. Prosecuting Attorney Joe McCulloch is committed to mandatory jail time for those found guilty.

The officers use various tactics to alert to stolen cars and to watch for and apprehend thieves who usually operate in small groups. We serve as a model for the rest of the region. St. Louis County, Maryland Heights and Chesterfield police departments have adopted the operational plan and are running their operations in conjunction with the St. Charles County CITF.

From 2021 to 2022, auto thefts decreased by 37 percent, and auto break-ins by 35 percent. Operations continue, and from February 2021 through May 2023, 948 offenders have been arrested, 30 stolen vehicles recovered, and 74 guns seized or recovered. The Prosecuting Attorney’s office reports that 636 vehicle criminals have been prosecuted or are awaiting prosecution.

More than likely, you’ve read that our lawmakers in Jefferson City were having discussions about how to reduce crime in St. Louis, including returning control of the City of St. Louis police to the state. While nothing was passed this year, I’m happy the lawmakers had a serious debate on the topic. The city has a chance to fix this, and the region’s leaders have made it clear we are all willing to help. In the meantime, we need to, and will, continue to do everything we can to keep St. Charles County safe.

May 02

A Message from the County Executive: Welcome to New Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on May 2, 2023 at 9:14 AM by Bryanna Hartmann

For several weeks in April, I interviewed and considered candidates to fill the Office of the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney. There were many excellent candidates, but one stood out as the best fit for the position and for St. Charles County: Joseph McCulloch. 

I recommended him to the County Council and, at their regular meeting on April 24, he was unanimously approved.

Joe McCulloch is an experienced trial attorney with a broad range of experience in criminal law, ranging from traffic offenses to homicide. Prior to becoming an attorney, he served for two decades as a St. Louis City police officer, including assignments to units investigating narcotics and homicides, as well as serving as acting commander. His conservative, law-and-order background makes him, in my opinion, perfect for the job of St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney.

Joe most recently has been in private practice while also serving as a municipal judge. He also has served as a judicial instructor and a member of the St. Charles County Council. I have been impressed with Joe since he was an assistant prosecutor in my courtroom when I was a judge, and I know from working with him when he was a Council member that he has a strong commitment to public safety.

When an elected office in the County government is vacated, the County Charter requires their appointed replacement to come from the same political party. Although Joe was elected as a Democrat during his time on the County Council, he re-aligned his political affiliation as a Republican after the Democratic Party moved away from supporting working people and police officers.

Joe will serve until the next general election in 2024, at which time voters will choose who will serve for the remaining two years of the Prosecuting Attorney’s term of office. I think he brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the position and will prove to be a strong leader.  

Apr 04

A Message from the County Executive: The Generosity Behind Our Parks

Posted on April 4, 2023 at 8:08 AM by County Executive

The St. Charles County Parks system is relatively young, as parks systems go. St. Charles County was organized in 1812, but it wasn’t until 1997 that voters approved a dedicated local use tax with the purpose of park land acquisition, development, operations, and maintenance. The system has grown over the years with new acquisitions of land and development. Since 2007, park acreage has increased more than 70 percent. 

We owe that to the voters who approved the tax, but also to many St. Charles County residents who, over the years, have donated land to be used to further our parks system. We are grateful to all of them.

Just this past month, we learned of the passing of Mrs. Nancy Knowles. She and her husband, Bill, had donated land to the County for the future development of Spring Bend Park, located off Upper Bottom Road, overlooking the Missouri River. This beautiful piece of property has been held in reserve for several years and it was Mrs. Knowles desire for the property to be used as natural parkland after her death. As a provision of the donation, more than 100 acres will remain natural parkland with trails. On land the County purchased adjacent to the property, the Parks Department will develop a parking lot, restrooms and a playground. The park encompasses 126 acres in total.

Our deepest sympathies to the Knowles family. The park will be a wonderful reminder of the generosity Mr. and Mrs. Knowles extended to the residents of this county.

Similarly, in 2006, Dolores Freymuth donated 91 acres of family land northwest of O’Fallon to the County. She lived there her entire life did not want to land to go to developers. Giving it to the County for a park ensured her property would be reserved. The land will one day be turned into Freymuth Park.

Over the years, more than 415 acres of land have been donated to the County for parkland, including the 109-acre Towne Park in Foristell; 75 of the 403 acres at The Park at New Melle Lakes; 3 acres for Flatwoods Park off Highway Y in O’Fallon; and 11 acres for the Dardenne Greenway Project. The latter was donated by Mark Keeven of Keeven Brothers, LP, and is key to completing gaps between existing segments of the Greenway, which is overseen by Great Rivers Greenway to connect communities together through parks, trails, and open spaces.

Today, St. Charles County Parks has 18 open parks; Spring Bend Park will be number 19. Two parks properties – Freymuth, and Hackmann in St. Paul – remain in reserve. Nearly 4,350 acres are maintained by our Parks Department for the enjoyment of St. Charles County residents and visitors alike. Park attendance was more than 4.3 million in 2022 and continues to grow.

I’m tremendously proud of our parks system and am grateful to those who have donated land for others to enjoy. If you haven’t been to our County parks, I encourage you to visit one or all of them. Each offers unique amenities, views of nature and an abundance of fresh air! You can find them all by visiting stccparks.org.