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Finalists selected for top Union Grove jobs — village administrator and village clerk | Local News

UNION GROVE — New faces could be turning up soon in Union Grove Village Hall, as officials work to fill vacancies in both the village administrator and village clerk positions.

Village Administrator Mike Hawes resigned in March after three years on the job, and Village Clerk Rebecca Wallendal stepped aside earlier this month after less than two years on the job.

Officials have since conducted searches to fill both vacancies, and they are progressing toward choosing new leaders in both high-profile positions in local government.

Five finalists have been identified among the applicants to become the new village administrator. Those finalists are:

  • Will Kolschowsky, a management analyst for the City of Urbana, Illinois.
  • Todd Willis, economic development coordinator for the City of Brookfield.
  • Theresa Loomer, village administrator for the Village of Fontana.
  • Chris Bennett, neighborhood services director for the City of Whitewater.
  • Kerry Bennett, interim village administrator for the Village of Union Grove.

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All five finalists have been interviewed by the Village Board Personnel Committee, and the Village Board met behind closed doors Monday night to discuss the search.

No decision has been made yet on whether to offer the job to one of those finalists.

In the search for a new village clerk, four finalists have been identified:

  • Ashly Ratz, a legal secretary in the Wisconsin Public Defender’s Office in Kenosha.
  • Shai Demers, a customer service representative for the manufacturing firm MTI in Pleasant Prairie.
  • Michelle Filz, administrative department secretary for the Union Grove-Yorkville Fire Department.
  • Jolene Lusha, a customer service manager/plant manager for the manufacturer National Technologies Inc. in Oak Creek.

Officials said the village has offered the village clerk job to one of the finalists, and officials are waiting for the applicant to make a decision.

The village administrator position had been paying $93,000 a year, while the village clerk salary was about $53,000 a year. No decision has been made about either salary for the new hires.

Village President Steve Wicklund said officials are pleased with the applicants who responded to both positions.

“We believe Union Grove is a great place to work,” he said.

On the continuing village administrator search, Wicklund said: “We’ve got a couple of good choices in mind. But we are just weighing our options.”

Hawes, the village administrator since 2019, resigned in March to take a similar position with the Milwaukee suburb of Greendale. Greendale has about 15,000 people and an annual village budget of $24 million — both approximately three times larger than Union Grove.

Wallendal, who had been village clerk since 2020, resigned earlier this month to accept a job closer to her hometown in the Beloit area.

Kerry Bennett, who is not related to the other finalist, Chris Bennett, has been with the Village of Union Grove for three years. She was serving as the village treasurer, and has stepped into as interim administrator since Hawes departed. Before Union Grove, she was deputy clerk/treasurer for the Village of Big Bend for two years.

Chris Bennett, in addition to working in Whitewater, lives in the nearby Village of Rochester and serves on the Village Board there.

The village has hired the consulting firm McMahon Associates Inc. to help with the village administrator search.

Union Grove Village Board member Amy Sweet said while it is unusual to lose both a village administrator and village clerk at the same time, she said the situation is indicative of a volatile job market everywhere.

Sweet said she sees the double vacancy as an opportunity to bring positive change to Union Grove.

“It’s nothing that should cause alarm,” she said. “It’s a challenge we work toward solving.”

In photos and video: Union Grove now has its own workshop for artists

Seven Seas Creative Space

From left, Julia, Miah, Angie and Jeremy Childers pose for a photo inside Seven Seas Creative Space in Union Grove on Friday. The four are out of seven total Childers family members who are all co-owners of the business. “Seven Seas” is actually wordplay on the fact that there are seven members of the family, and their last names begin with the letter “C.”


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space

From left, Julia, Miah, Angie and Jeremy Childers pose for a photo inside Seven Seas Creative Space in Union Grove on Friday. The four are a part of seven total Childers family members who are all co-owners of the business. “Seven Seas” is wordplay on the fact that there are seven members of the family and their last name begins with the letter “C.”


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Seven Seas Creative Space

Seven Seas Creative Space


Diana Panuncial


Watch now: Inside Seven Seas Creative Space

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