City park and rec director resigns
Jenson to work for Waupaca School District
By Angie Landsverk
After almost five years heading Waupaca’s Parks and Recreation Department, Aaron Jenson is resigning to take a position with the Waupaca School District.
Jenson submitted his resignation on Feb. 12. His last day working for the city will be Feb. 28.
He is becoming the school district’s new extra-curricular activities/athletics coordinator.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for him and a great opportunity for the school district,” said City Administrator Henry Veleker.
Jenson is a Waupaca native and 2007 graduate of Waupaca High School.
In 2011, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a bachelor’s degree in recreation management.
He then served a 16-week internship with the city of Waupaca before becoming its full-time recreation supervisor.
In April 2013, Jenson became the city’s parks and recreation director.
He is presently seeking a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Jenson began the program in the fall of 2016 and requested 50 percent tuition reimbursement from the city.
The city’s tuition reimbursement policy allows for 100 percent tuition reimbursement.
Jenson requested 50 percent reimbursement for tuition, because he planned to absorb the cost in the Parks and Recreation Department’s operational budget.
When the common council approved Jenson’s request for tuition reimbursement, Jenson agreed to remain employed with the city for five years beyond his graduation date, Veleker said.
If he did not remain employed with the city, he would then have to reimburse the city for the tuition, under the agreement.
“He will owe us that money back,” Veleker said.
He said the amount is about $3,500.
Veleker said much was accomplished in the city under Jenson’s tenure.
Among the accomplishments was the creation of a strategic plan for the Parks and Recreation Department, he said.
Veleker said that project resulted in not only a template for the parks but also in the creation of the Friends of Waupaca Parks.
Under Jenson’s leadership, Fall O’ Rama was revived, he said.
He said Jenson was successful in obtaining grants for the city and was a past member of Waupaca’s Community Health Action Team.
Veleker also said Jenson brought the city through a “real rocky period, even before he was the director.”
Jenson brought credibility back to the department and improved its stature in the community, he said.
“I think he’s left a real positive mark on the department and the city,” he said.
The process for hiring a new parks and recreation director is set to begin.
On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Veleker met with Mayor Brian Smith regarding the timeline for filling the position.
Since it is a department head position, it will be an appointment of the mayor, with council approval, Veleker said.
It is the city’s policy to wait until payments of accrued vacation and sick leave for former employees are covered within approved budgets before rehiring for the positions.
The payment of accrued sick leave is now put in a Health Reimbursement Arrangement, with former employees only able to draw down those funds when they are retirement age eligible.
The funds may only be used for health-related expenses.
Veleker said Jenson was a shorter term city employee, so the city is looking at a six- to eight-week recoup period to cover the sick leave and vacation payout.
The mayor will be involved in the process to find a new director, and a committee will be put together, Veleker said.
Veleker is also reaching out to parks and recreation officials in the state to find someone who will assist and be on the interview panel.
In addition, he is reviewing the job description for the position to make sure it is current.
If council action is required on anything related to the process, that would be sought during the council’s March 6 meeting, Veleker said.
He said if council action is not needed, the recruitment process will begin immediately.
“The plan would be to by early to mid June, have a decision, having someone on board,” Veleker said.