City of Yelm’s new public works director didn’t feel shy when he started his new job last week.
Ryan Johnstone, a professional engineer, has worked with the city often during his nearly seven years as an engineer for the firm Parametrix, on such projects as the city’s downtown well upgrade and water reclamation facility projects.
Johnstone said engineering affords him the opportunity to help communities, whether by making sure the drinking water system is working well or making sure wastewater is properly handled and disposed of.
“Some of the bigger items that we have on our plate to stay on top of are issues surrounding potable water and wastewater treatment, both areas that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in my career working on while I was at Parametrix, both for Yelm and other clients,” Johnstone said.
“So I feel like my experience in those areas comes to bear in a good way for the city, and how I can help lend a hand to helping steer the city through some of the issues associated with those items.”
Since starting the job, Johnstone said it has been simultaneously great and challenging — which is precisely the way he wants it.
“I really enjoy it,” he said. “It’s been great coming in and working here already having working relationships with a lot of the staff from being on the consultant side.”
While he most recently worked in the private sector, Johnstone is no stranger to working for government entities, having previously worked for the city of Auburn and the Washington State Department of Transportation.
“I think my heart’s always kind of been on the public side,” he said. “I really enjoy being on the public side and to me … I feel a lot closer to the people I’m working for, meaning the community that I’m in, and I feel a lot closer and like you see the results of the work that you do a lot quicker.”
City Administrator Shelly Badger said Johnstone brings a strong civil engineering background to the city, with key knowledge of water, sewer, reclaimed water and public works infrastructure management.
“He is ready to hit the ground running and is excited to be part of Yelm’s future growth,” she stated in an email.
Johnstone definitely agrees he’s excited.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to be here for a long time and being able to help the community in all different areas of what would be part of public works,” he said. “ … I’m just really hoping that I can be a useful part of the community and one that can help improve the quality of life here.”