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Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz

A podcast about positive things happening in and around Washington County, Wisconsin

Updates from the Village of Richfield with Jim Healy

15MWF - Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz podcast cover art for Season 3, Episode 18 featuring Jim Healy from the Village of Richfield. The background includes names of various locations within Washington County, emphasizing the local focus of the podcast. Jim Healy is wearing a gray suit with a red bow tie and is smiling at the camera.

This week, Jim Healy, Village Administrator of Richfield, joins me to discuss new developments on the horizon for the community. We talk about plans for a new Dollar General store coming to the village, what residents can expect in the 2024 budget, preparations for the upcoming snow plowing season, and the potential for a new summer farmer’s market launching in 2024.

Plus, (separate) tangents on Ross Perot and mustaches. 🥸 Thanks for listening!

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  • Transcript
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    Fuzz Martin 00:00:08
    Happy holidays, fine listener, and thank you for listening to Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. I am your host, Fuzz Martin. And each week I showcase a positive person, nonprofit organization, event or business in Washington County, Wisconsin. And if you’re new to the show, I always say Washington County, Wisconsin in every single episode because there are 31 Washington counties in the United States. So if you’re listening from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, or Virginia, I just want you to know you’re in the wrong place, but you’re more than welcome to listen to this show. Speaking of places, we have a first time guest here today to talk about updates from a place in Washington County, Wisconsin. His name is Jim Healey. He is the village administrator in Richfield, and he’s joining me today to talk about new developments in the village, what residents will find in the 2024 village budget, a new farmers market, and what it takes to get the DPW ready for winter. With that, here are 15 minutes on the village of Richfield with Jim Healey on 15 Minutes with fuzz. Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m glad to finally have you here on the show.

    Jim Healy 00:01:46
    Thank you. I am so happy to be here. And, yeah, it’s been a long time coming.

    Fuzz Martin 00:01:51
    So speaking of a long time, you’ve been the village administrator in Richfield for a while now, right?

    Jim Healy 00:01:57
    Yeah, I’ve been with the village of Richfield for 13 years and in the administrator position for, I think it’s nine years.

    Fuzz Martin 00:02:04
    Wow. Okay. So in that time, in that 13 years since you first came to Richfield, how has Richfield grown and changed?

    Jim Healy 00:02:12
    I would say the biggest thing that we’ve seen in the last five years is some of the original homeowners who were in those 1970s ranch brick homes, which is the same type of home that I grew up in, are now starting to see the original owners move out and then younger families move in, which is neat to see kind of a revitalization of some of our older, more established subdivision neighborhoods. Great.

    Fuzz Martin 00:02:33
    And so you’ve seen that families come into Richfield and therefore into the county, which I know is a big push in the county, is to get more families to move up here. For those who may be looking to move to Richfield or open a business in Richfield, and just from you personally, what are your three favorite things about the village of Richfield?

    Jim Healy 00:02:54
    Oh, man, that’s tough. I would say one of the things that I love about the community is even though we’re a village, we’re still very much a townlike feel. People still wave to each other, you know, who the business owners are. Everybody’s very friendly. And I would say there’s a really strong sense of community. I think that we have amazing parks. We’ve got a historical park, which I know you’ve done an interview with the historical society about, but in my opinion, it is the gem of Washington County in terms of that type of a destination attraction park. So that’s tremendous. And I think we have a good diversity of family supporting businesses and retail businesses in the community. We’re close enough to Menominee falls in Germantown and 25 minutes from downtown Milwaukee. But I would say what I value about the community, too, is the rural atmosphere of it and the dark evening skies and how quiet it is out there. For my neighbor who moved in from Brown Deer, he know you used to hear ambulances and fire trucks and police cars all the time where he lived, and now it’s like, oh, what’s going on? If you do hear something like that, because it’s so quiet out there and serene.

    Fuzz Martin 00:04:10
    Yeah, perfect. You talked a bit about businesses, and one of the topics that people love to hear about on this show are the economic development type things. So whether it’s in a village or a city or a town, when new things are coming to town, people get excited about that, and they like to talk about it and hear from the source. So what kind of things are coming into the Village of Richfield?

    Jim Healy 00:04:34
    Well, right now we’re working on building a 10,000 square foot Dollar Tree that’s coming in on Appleton Avenue, just south of Hubertus Road. Appleton Avenue is kind of like our main commercial drag corridor that is a long, vacant piece of land. So it’s nice to see investment going through this area. And I would say the bigger, more high level thing that we’ve been working on the last couple of years is a partnership with the village of Germantown to provide sewer and water to approximately 300 acres north of the quick trip that we’ve got slated for industrial office mixed business use area.

    Fuzz Martin 00:05:09
    Is that Hillwood?

    Jim Healy 00:05:10

    Fuzz Martin 00:05:11

    Jim Healy 00:05:11
    Yes. We’re working with Hillwood, which is a company that’s based out of Dallas, Texas. It used to be Ross Perot’s company. Now junior runs it.

    Fuzz Martin 00:05:18
    I used to be able to do a killer Ross Perot impersonation. Shut up.

    Jim Healy 00:05:21
    Back in the day, when Dana Carvey was doing it on Saturday Night Live, I know he had that dead on total sidetrack.

    Fuzz Martin 00:05:28
    Also, you talked about the Wisconsin Roofing Company, right?

    Jim Healy 00:05:32
    Yeah, they just got passed through our architecture review board about two weeks ago. They’re looking at building, I think it’s a 6,000 square foot showroom and distribution center. Right now they’ve got two operations in Wisconsin and they’re looking to consolidate into a single location. And so we’ve been working with their property owner. It’s great to see we’re very conveniently located to the 41 corridor. And so this for him is perfect. It’s a little bit, I’ll say, for his customers up north towards the Fondalac area where one of his stores is. And then right now he’s based in Menominee Falls.

    Fuzz Martin 00:06:05
    Okay. Yeah. So nice. Split the difference. But again, as you said before, it’s 25 minutes to downtown Milwaukee from Richfield and probably what, 45 minutes to Fond du Lac.

    Jim Healy 00:06:14

    Fuzz Martin 00:06:15
    So we’re getting through budget season and this is my first budget season. Congratulations, president. Yeah, it’s awesome. I’m sure it’s fun for you, right? Because this is the kind of thing that you live for.

    Jim Healy 00:06:26
    I don’t know if fun is the right term, but yeah, no, it’s why we do what we do. And this year’s budget cycle was a little bit more challenging than in previous years. And we’re still dealing with the impacts of inflation. And our plow trucks are soon going to be costing about a mile of road what it used to cost in 2018. We’re going to do, let’s see, I think it’s about four and a half miles next year of road construction.

    Fuzz Martin 00:06:55

    Jim Healy 00:06:55
    And for our mainline miles of road, we’re projecting that they’re going to cost about 450,000, which is back in 2018. When we passed our road referendum, the average cost of a mainline mile of road was 315,000. So, I mean, it’s gone up quite considerably.

    Fuzz Martin 00:07:11
    Yeah. That money just doesn’t come from anywhere.

    Jim Healy 00:07:15

    Fuzz Martin 00:07:16
    So you got to be more focused on which roads you’re updating and more methodical in how that works out.

    Jim Healy 00:07:22
    Yeah, we have a great capital improvement plan. Last year we went through and we made sure with all the inflated costs for vehicles and equipment that we had actual prices. And so that way when we budget for it, we have basically a cash system where we say if a plow truck is for 20 years, we take that value 20 years out, we add an inflationary factor of a certain percentage so that in theory, when the vehicle comes up for replacement that we have the money, cash on hand in order to replace.

    Fuzz Martin 00:07:51
    Great, great. Well, it’s good to be set up for that. And make sure that you’re planning down the road, not just for today.

    Jim Healy 00:07:57
    Right, right.

    Fuzz Martin 00:07:57
    There have been a lot of talks about the different sharing of services both with the county and within the county, between municipalities and such. Is the village of Richfield taking advantage of any of those?

    Jim Healy 00:08:09
    Well, we have long been partnering with the county. Probably the most visible partnership that we have is with the sheriff’s department. In 2008, when we became a village, we formed a partnership with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department so that they provide police protection with us. But for, gosh, I think at least seven years we’ve been using them for crack filling services, for line painting. We buy brine from them. So our public works department has had, I’ll say, a long history of working with Scott Schmidt and those in charge up at the county in order to provide a better, I’ll say, brand of services for a more economical price. When we started, we were using private sector contractors for crack filling. And I think it was about a dollar 50 a square foot or a dollar 50 a foot rather, for crack filling. And when we started partnering with the county, we knocked it down by half.

    Fuzz Martin 00:09:03
    Oh, wow. Okay.

    Jim Healy 00:09:03
    Which is tremendous. We’re nearly caught up with all of our crack filling that we have to do in the village. But just as you know, the roads are always in a constant state of deterioration. And so, I mean, even the roads that we did this year, they’re going to need in next three to five years, whether that’s crack filling or doing the shoulders, redoing the shoulders. It’s always something.

    Fuzz Martin 00:09:27
    Yeah. And it’s good to have partners with that that can do that. They’ve got the staff and the people that are on hand, experts at it, obviously, and takes a load off of your DPW. And by the way, we’re coming up on plowing season. You talked about Brian before. Tell us about how that works. A lot of people may have seen the lines on the road, but can you kind of let people know what that is?

    Jim Healy 00:09:48
    So we call them safety lines. It’s kind of the industry term for them. So if you’re driving on a road and you see white squiggly lines, we use them primarily for our hills, curves and dangerous intersections. Okay. But last year, I would say we started getting into doing it in subdivisions so that as people were coming and going, that brine was already starting to work in. And then when our public works crew would come through and our DPW would be going and scraping it off. It already had already. Instead of being hard packed, it was starting to break down. And it’s been really great. I can’t say enough about Brett with the rising cost. He’s our Public works supervisor. With the rising cost of salt, I think right now we’re paying 80 something a ton. If you go back several years, it was, like, in the upper 60s. It’s gone up pretty tremendously.

    Fuzz Martin 00:10:37
    Yeah. And so taking things like brine, where it helps reduce the amount of salt usage on the roadways, is an important step. It’s obviously more economical that way.

    Jim Healy 00:10:46
    Right. And for us, one of the things that we looked at is we actually looked at the University of Minnesota. They did a really interesting study about salt dispersion patterns. And for nerds like me, this is something that you would look at. And we figured out that, I think it was 25% of our salt was just bouncing off the road. And we have rural ditch lines. We don’t have curb and gutter in a lot of the community. And so we’re wasting product, essentially. And because we are reliant on the groundwater for all of our homes, that stuff gets into the ditch lines and then ultimately tricklates back down into the shallow aquifer. And so in our new plow trucks, one of the things that we’ve added on as the new spec is basically, it sprays salt, sprays brine, so that when the salt falls through the chute, it’s like sticking your tongue to a frosty pole. It just sticks to the ground. And that way you’re able to use more of the product in a more efficient manner.

    Fuzz Martin 00:11:43
    I am so glad to know that there’s somebody else here that cares about pre wetting salt than me. I spent eight years as a landscaper, and we work here at epic with Douglas Dynamics, who makes snow plows. And so I’m also well versed and a geek about this, so I’m glad to hear it.

    Jim Healy 00:12:00
    You got any leads on how to get a plow truck sooner than a year or two years?

    Fuzz Martin 00:12:04
    I don’t on the plow truck side, because that’s another animal. But, yes, everybody’s dealing with that at the moment. Once we get through the winter season, we get into spring. I’ve heard rumblings of a farmers market.

    Jim Healy 00:12:18
    Yeah, we’re really excited. We have a lady. Her name is Judy Greenfield, local resident, and she’s partnered with a lot of other like minded individuals in our community. One of them was the CFO of Girl Scouts of Wisconsin to help her set up her nonprofit. She’s establishing a board of directors, and we have lots of farmers in our community who go to West Bend or go to Germantown or know, my, my wife’s family is from Chicago, and two summers ago, we were down there going to the local farmers market, and we found a farmer from Richfield that goes all the way down there every weekend. And so this is, I think, a great opportunity. She’s got, I think, 15 people that are lined up already that have committed before she started to do any advertisements. And she’s hoping to get about 36. And we’re doing it in our nature park. So she’ll have food trucks there. And there’s going to be, I think, a lot of good partnerships that will be able to be formed with events that the historical society are doing when they’re naturally having that traffic flow come in during certain events throughout the year. So, yeah, I’m hoping that it takes off like wildfire, because knowing where your produce comes from and getting it sourced locally, I think, is something that is of interest to lots of people, as evidenced by, I think West Bend just won some award for having the best farmers market in the state of Wisconsin, which is unreal.

    Fuzz Martin 00:13:45
    Yeah, it’s amazing. And it’s great to have that and have that in the community as well. When did you say that might start up next year?

    Jim Healy 00:13:54
    Yeah, I think she’s looking to start it up middle of summer and going until October. It’s, I think, tentatively planned for Saturdays from ten until two.

    Fuzz Martin 00:14:03
    Okay, well, if you could make a connection with me, and I’ll get her on the air and we’ll talk. Yeah, she’s more in depth about it. Absolutely. And finally, so this episode is airing on November 28th. The end of November. Now, I was fully expecting Jim to see you in a full mustache when you came in here, but I see you got the full beard. I assume you’re going hunting, right?

    Jim Healy 00:14:23
    You know what? I am somebody who loves the outdoors, and I love to bust clays and put lead down the lane, but I am not a hunter. But it’ll be, I think, something that now, as my son is getting older, he wants to start to learn. And my dad belongs to Daniel Boone, which is our hunt club in town. And we go to the range of Richfield and put some brass down lane there. So it’ll be, I think, in the next couple of years, something that we’ll be looking to do and hopefully start a new healy family.

    Fuzz Martin 00:14:53
    Right. Very good. Very good. That sounds great. I also like to put lead down the lane but also not a hunter. My dad was not a hunter. He was always a business guy. So even growing up in the woods, never quite got into it. Did you have a lot of people in the village of Richfield take part in Movember?

    Jim Healy 00:15:13
    Well, you know, the firemen, they’re always rocking mustaches, but no hope, I. We’re not a Movember organization, but I would say most of our people have some facial hair. We’re playing guess who with our employees.

    Fuzz Martin 00:15:29
    Yeah. So Adam Gitter, our village administrator in Kewaskum, he’s rocking the mustache.

    Jim Healy 00:15:33
    You know what? I saw him the other day, and it’s kind of an ongoing joke between the two of us that we’re each other’s doppelgangers.

    Fuzz Martin 00:15:41

    Jim Healy 00:15:41
    And I saw him the other day with a clean shaven face, and I was like, I haven’t seen Adam with a clean shaven face, I don’t think ever.

    Fuzz Martin 00:15:49
    Is it gone now? I haven’t seen him.

    Jim Healy 00:15:51
    I think it was just because he was starting to get the new growth going.

    Fuzz Martin 00:15:55
    Okay, got you. I didn’t know because November is usually it’s a good way to raise awareness for men’s health and suicide prevention and those things, but it’s an even better way to raise awareness for how much wives hate mustaches.

    Jim Healy 00:16:10
    Yes. I try to keep mine very neatly trimmed because the second it starts going over the lips, my wife is like, you’ve got food stuck in it or whatever. But, yeah, it’s one of those things. I’ve always had some sort of facial hair, so now I almost feel naked without having a beard, especially this time of year.

    Fuzz Martin 00:16:33
    I couldn’t imagine taking it down to the skin right now.

    Jim Healy 00:16:37
    No way.

    Fuzz Martin 00:16:38
    I would scare my children, and one of them is 19. So, Jim, thanks so much for coming in and talking about the village of Richfield today. I really appreciate getting you on. And, of course, if you guys ever have any other things coming up, holler and we’ll get you back on the show.

    Jim Healy 00:16:52
    Thank you so much. I’m so grateful that there’s outlets like this for us to reach people not only in Richfield, but Washington county. You really do a great job, and you have a broad spectrum of people that you bring in, and so I’m glad to be a part of it. And thank you very much for inviting me.

    Fuzz Martin 00:17:11
    Thank you again to Jim Healey, village administrator for the village of Richfield, for joining me on this week’s episode of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. If you have an idea of someone that I should talk to on this show, reach out to me. You can hit me on gmail at [email protected]. Be sure to spell out the word [email protected]. If you prefer not to use email, you can go to my website. You can get there on a short link. Go again. Type that into your URL bar,, and that’ll bring up the form. New episodes come out on Tuesday, though. I have a special bonus episode coming up this Thursday. What? Spoilers? Yes, today is Giving Tuesday, so I’m going to give you another episode this week, but on Thursday. Wow. Two for the price of zero. You couldn’t find a better deal on Amazon, and you wouldn’t because you care about local businesses. So you shop local. Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll talk to you Thursday right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

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