January 27, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

‘Being the first of anything comes with challenges, but also a lot of opportunity’

St. Joseph Village Administrator Joseph Hackney likes challenges.


“Being the first of anything comes with challenges, but also a lot of opportunity,” he said.


Public service has always appealed to Hackney, who had an internship with the City of Arcola during his time at Eastern Illinois University where he majored in Political Science.


“I loved the variety of the profession, as well as being able to have a serious impact on a community. Up until that point, I was lost on what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “After spending some time with the City Administrator in Arcola, Illinois, and with the City Manager of Warrensburg, Missouri, I wasn’t lost anymore.”


Hackney was previously the village administrator in Valley Falls, Kansas where he served for just over two years.


Hackney said he enjoys the field of village administration because there is always something going on and he finds it rewarding.


“There is always a new challenge or new problem that needs to be solved,” he said. “I like that there is always something pending, always something to work on or to improve. I also love to see the product of the projects I work on, and see a positive impact being made for the community.”


This Spring, Hackney toured the town with the mayor and village workers. Hackney said the community was nice, clean, and well-kept.


“I appreciate that very much,” he said.


He was also impressed with the downtown.


“Really seems like there is a lot of potential here,” he said. “I’m really excited to see what can be accomplished in St. Joseph over the next few years. The community is in a good location in the State of Illinois, and I think there is a strong chance that the Village can continue to attract the right kind of development and growth.”


Hackney said it wasn’t only the town that was appealing. His future co-workers and the trustees were also part of the appeal.


“The governing body and team members really made me feel welcome when I came in for the interview,” he said. “I appreciated that very much. The Mayor especially has been so kind to me during this process, and was a huge part of making this position so appealing.” 


Hackney said his goals for the village will be the goals of the village board and mayor.


“My job as the Village Administrator will be to facilitate the objectives of the governing body,” he said. “I hope to bring some new ideas, and experience from other organizations — especially from mentors from this profession. I really believe that communities should be eager to pick and choose good ideas from other organizations and be ready to apply them in a way that works in their own organization. In most cases, there is a community somewhere that has experienced similar issues to the ones that St. Joseph has, and will in the future, so we should always be willing to learn from their experiences and take good ideas to apply in our organization.”


When he starts on July 29, Hackney’s first order of business will be to immerse himself in the organization of the village and learn operations. He will then work with the board members and staff to ensure that the village is running smoothly on a daily basis.


“I was impressed by the governing body and the team members, so I’m confident that the Village residents will be well served no matter what comes our way,” he said. Residents have busy lives, and keeping track of all the nuances of local government can be a lot to take on. Which is why they trust the governing body, and staff to handle their affairs.”


Hackney is originally from Illinois, with family near St. Joseph, a close friend in Philo and his college network 45 minutes away in Charleston.


“It will be wonderful to be so close to all of them,” he said.


In his spare time, Hackney can be found walking his 120 pound Black Lab and Great Pyrenees mix dog, named Clash that commands a lot of his attention.

“Actually, commands most of my attention,” Hackney said. “He keeps me pretty active, and gets me outside — a lot. He’s big enough that you won’t miss us going on many walks in the community. I’m also really fortunate to have good friends, which I love spending time with. I look forward to being closer to a lot of them, to make up for some lost time during COVID.”

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