Episode 85

Published on:

13th Sep 2023

An Update on the Village of Jackson with Jen Keller

This week on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz, I'm joined by Jen Keller, Jackson, Wisconsin's village administrator. Jen provides an inside look at some of the exciting developments happening around Jackson. She shares details on the new pickleball courts that were recently installed , giving local pickleball enthusiasts a designated space to play. Jen talks about the Jackson beer garden and their upcoming new home builder event.

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Fuzz Martin 0:08

Hey, what's up? Hello. Thank you for pulling up today's episode Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. I'm your host Fuzz Martin and each week, I talk to people about positive things happening in and around Washington County, Wisconsin. This week I'm very excited I get to speak with Jen Keller. Jim is the village administrator for the village of Jackson. Jen is going to talk to me all about the great things happening in Jackson, Wisconsin. So let's get to it. Here are 15 minutes on the village of Jackson with Jen Keller on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

Fuzz Martin 0:59

Jen, thank you for coming into Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz I need I need a civic lesson from you. Could you please tell the listeners what a village administrator does

Jen Keller 1:10

Village administrator. It's a great role if you're interested in leading, leading in a community but having absolutely no legislative authority whatsoever. You're supportive to both your elected officials, the board and cities, you'll see common councils and then you also are in charge of making sure that the team that executes all those decisions they make and the tools that they need to do so. And if things go super wrong, you tag in if things go super well, you stand back and you let it happen.

Fuzz Martin 1:39

Perfect. So So in your role you oversee then all of the village employees right,

Jen Keller 1:44

but they are services. Absolutely.

Fuzz Martin 1:46

Within your you report to the board. That is correct. And so again, you're not you're not a an elected official. What is the difference between a village president and a village administrator,

Jen Keller 1:59

the village president, in our community village president has voting authority. You should and have to live within the community as well because you are elected to your terms as the village of Jackson ordinance. And as village president, you carry a bit of a figurehead presence. Okay. And we have a great one in Jackson, Mr. Bryan Heckendorf,

Fuzz Martin 2:21

He's a great guy to work with. And then he presides over the village board, right? How many village trustees do?

Jen Keller 2:26

He does, he's the one with the gavel, you'll see him in the middle. We have seven electeds on the seventh. Mr. Bryan handoff is one of them. And half of the board is elected every single year every April. So residents in Jackson get to choose their representation every single year.

Fuzz Martin 2:42

Perfect. How long have you been the administrator in Jackson?

Jen Keller 2:47

I came to Jackson in January of 21 are gone on two and a half years. And it's incredibly, incredibly fast time has flown.

Fuzz Martin 2:55

So what made you get into government?

Jen Keller 2:58

I was always interested in organization as civic groups. I'm a lifelong member of the Lions Club. It's a group you create your after our community service projects, and working in local government as kind of a salaried way of continuing to do something like that where you're benefiting those in a small community or your neighbors meaningful

Fuzz Martin 3:20

work or where did you go to school? And what kind of degree did you get to get into this role?

Jen Keller 3:24

I started out at Ripon College and received my Bachelor of Arts with poli sci as my emphasis, you start to get the opportunity to think about do you want to go into representative representative politics? Do you want to go to a support policy creation role? I chose to pursue my Master's in Public Administration because again, it really focuses on that local, local emphasis. It's local work. And here in Milwaukee, they had a great MPA program. So southeastern Wisconsin got me for my masters and I got scooped up pretty quickly and how awesome our side of the status couldn't see myself leaving.

Fuzz Martin 3:57

Great. What are what was your first role in government?

Jen Keller 4:01

September of:

Fuzz Martin 4:29

it. Perfect. Well, it's great that you chose this life and lead this and it's always interesting for me talking to village administrators because you guys know, everything you can it's your job to know everything that's going on within your municipality. So

Jen Keller 4:46

or defer to a follow up email or

Fuzz Martin 4:48

differential. Yesterday I received as the village president and Kewaskum Yesterday, I received a question that I had no clue how to do so I said, Hey, call Adam Gitter. He's our village administrator and he can answer that for you. And I will just say, um, a lot because I don't totally know. So. So you as the village administrator and Jackson are the one that people know either has all the information or knows where to find it.

Jen Keller 5:11

Yeah, I like to think that we're more more eyes and ears boots on the ground to help those figureheads, those electeds trying to make thoughtful policy and meet the needs of the citizens, but they have full time roles, and they have careers. They're responsible to their elected electors. But truth be told, they're carrying a lot of different roles in their private lives that we're here to support them when the citizens need them to be making thoughtful policy.

Fuzz Martin 5:38

Yeah, thanks. That's how I like to think of it to what I meant to ask what is your favorite part about doing this role?

Jen Keller 5:47

I have found so much value in meeting anyone that chooses Jackson chooses Jackson daily because they live there. They choose Jackson, because they're a business owner. They choose Jackson because they want to grow the community. Those are folks that bring a unique perspective to more of my day to days, they fuel my incessant need to learn more, because two and a half years, I'm only beginning to understand the ins and outs. I still rely on maps to know where easements are, but I'm getting there. But that's really, some of the coolest conversations I'll have are people where I'm talking to someone or Jackson means a lot to

Fuzz Martin 6:23

some of this shows most popular episodes are related to things happening in local communities like Jackson, because people like to hear from the source. And instead of hearing from, you know, the Facebook gossip group or their neighbors, though, sometimes they really like those two. But I wanted to have you in so we could talk about some of the cool things that are happening in Jackson. So what do you guys have going on?

Jen Keller 6:47

public projects, new businesses, we're, we're moving in. We're excited to open earlier this month, our pickleball courts? Oh, sweet, the fastest growing sport in probably the nation. Yes. I don't have any data displayed by

Fuzz Martin 7:01

my I have a 19 year old daughter. whenever she's home from school. Go lacrosse. She wants she grabs her pickleball paddles, and she and her boyfriend are friends go ahead into our pickleball courts. And it's all ages. Sport, right?

Jen Keller 7:18

reet in Jackson Park. We have:

Fuzz Martin 7:37

Yeah, definitely. It's great. You guys also have an event coming up later on this month. Right?

Jen Keller 7:43

We do. Jackson was blessed to be strategically trying to develop a residential parcel next to our new public safety building. If you're familiar with the east end of town on Main Street, and on September 28, we're hoping that the public comes and joins us from five to seven we'll have an open house. And we'll be able to unveil not only builders that will be constructing homes and our next generation housing folks of Jackson subdivision but attendees will be able to see renderings of the homes that will be placed. Even if you want to start calling dibs on a couple lots. You cannot begin those conversations because our builders will have their teams there ready to assist any interested parties.

Fuzz Martin 8:22

How many lots are there going to be in that new location?

Jen Keller 8:25

There's a variety of different types of homes. Right now we are unveiling 40 single family lots, accompanied by five pairs of side by side units are all intended to be purchased an owner occupied, but we have really great builders. We're still negotiating, but I have good, good sense of confidence, we'll get the 28th. And then the other half, I guess, footprint of this site, we're looking for multifamily development, which should really provide the village of Jackson and Washington County Workforce. New homes that are quality of trying to get everything under 420 75% 75% of it will actually be under $320,000 They get a new home. We're very excited.

Fuzz Martin 9:05

All told, Well, if all goes as planned, how many homes are residents? Units, I guess, would you say that you're looking to add there in Jackson,

Jen Keller 9:15

omes. Okay, we hope to see by:

Fuzz Martin 9:18

Excellent. You have other great things happening in Jackson. I know you've got some businesses and things opened up what kind of what kind of other buzz is going on around Jackson?

Jen Keller 9:29

Well, our community does have a keen sense of we need our pets, we need our furry friends. So we've seen a lot of businesses that dedicate services to dogs do very, very well. We do have a pop play zone that's moved in over the summer at a on Main Street at the former shamans, appliances building familiar. We also have a couple other shops that have recently opened over the summer apotheca it's a former Bank building in Jackson and you'll recognize it if you remember the old village hall it's just north of On the north side of Main Street there, okay, another really important business and we've already gotten a really beautiful bouquet as the Birch Hill Farm floral antiques. They've opened in the former location of Sonia's rose and that's at the bogey and GM building can't miss it. It's one of our historical buildings in downtown, and then a homegrown hair for personal services near the Piggly Wiggly.

Fuzz Martin:

Awesome. Yeah, very good. Now you guys had some road construction going on? Is it still is that all open though?

Jen Keller:

The utility work is complete. Okay, we know we were experiencing some leakage through the system. We wanted to clean that all up because the D O T resurfacing project commences next year. Okay. So if you're motorists down Main Street, you'll notice Eastbound traffic you'll be able to get through no problem next year starting in spring. westbound you'll be detoured, but it's for good reason. We have three inches of surface coming up three and a half going down. And we'll have some new signals. And the eagle drive roundabout Jackson, we love roundabouts, you do love your roundabouts. We don't want to stop you. We just want to slow you down.

Fuzz Martin:

So I love driving through roundabouts. My wife doesn't like when I drive through roundabouts because I kind of see them as a challenge. Okay, but I love going through Jackson, for that matter. And now they get one more just the all the more reason for me to go

Jen Keller:

a and the state was given out federal money for it. I said please, and thank you. We want this to be a safer intersection. So we're really excited.

Fuzz Martin:

Great, excellent. Anything else going on in Jackson, I heard rumblings of a beer garden is that

Jen Keller:

we have we've really found the community loves attending a good beer garden. We do have another series coming up over 19th and 20. If if residents or visitors would like to come we will have it at the community center. And if you come on Friday, there's a 5k run walk. It's a glow run, walk. Oh cool. So if you'd like to spectate or if you'd like to walk, we'd love to have you there with us. Yeah.

Fuzz Martin:

Is there an organization that that's benefiting or we do

Jen Keller:

have the Friends of Jackson Parks and Rec, okay. They do a great job fundraising for the programs they're able to deliver to families in our community. Excellent. lucky

Fuzz Martin:

to have them. Perfect. Well, it sounds like you guys have a lot of cool things going on Jackson.

Jen Keller:

We do and if beer gardens aren't drawn you to us we also do have an open house our public safety building. On Main Street we do not as illustrious but sort of a doors open walkie for the building. Okay, we have fire prevention of is the focus that's October 11, from six to eight. But if you'd love to go see the police department families can go through and if you'd really love to go see some ordinances, you can come through my offices and administration. And we love to open our doors and welcome the public.

Fuzz Martin:

Perfect. That's October 11. You say yes. All right. I'm very jealous of your your public service building. Being in Kewaskum. We're, we're looking to get that new village hall and police department and library setup and it's a lot of work. The fact you guys got it done is awesome. It looks great.

Jen Keller:

Lucky. We had some great decision makers in the time and we're happy to share.

Fuzz Martin:

Perfect. Jen, thanks so much for coming on. Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. You're welcome back anytime. Thank you, sir.

Fuzz Martin:

Thank you again to Jen Keller, the village administrator for Jackson, Wisconsin for joining me on this week's episode of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. If you ever have an idea for a guest that I should have on this show, don't even think about hesitating to reach out. You can get a hold of me in a number of different ways. I'll give you two one. You can email me fifteenwithfuzz@gmail.com. That is 15 spelled out with fuzz at gmail.com. Or, if you prefer, go to fuzz.cc/guest that'll take you to the website. And there's a form there that you can fill out and tell me who should be on the show. Again, it's fuzz.cc/guest New episodes come on on Tuesdays. Usually. You can find all the episodes at fifteenwithfuzz.com. Thank you again for listening and I will talk to you next week. Right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz

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About the Podcast

Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz
Showcasing the positive things happening in Washington County, Wisconsin.
Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz is sheds light on all the great things going on in and around Washington County, Wisconsin. The host, Fuzz Martin, is a local business owner (EPIC Creative) and a former radio personality (92.5 WBWI - now Buzz Country). New episodes launch on Tuesday mornings. https://fifteenwithfuzz.com

Whether you're in West Bend, Kewaskum, Slinger, Hartford, Germantown, Richfield, Jackson, or anywhere else in the area, 15 Minutes with Fuzz serves the community with fun and positive people, places, events, and attractions.

About your host

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Fuzz Martin

Fuzz Martin is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at EPIC Creative in West Bend, Wis.