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Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach resigns

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Nico Savidge
November 4, 2013

JANESVILLE—Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach resigned from her position Monday, saying she will take a job in nursing after more than eight years with the county, according to a news release.

Keach has been coroner since June 2005, when Gov. Jim Doyle appointed her. She twice won re-election to the position.

She tendered her resignation to Sheriff Robert Spoden on Monday, the release said, and her last day of work will be Saturday, Nov. 16.

Chief Deputy Coroner Louis Smit will take over for Keach on an interim basis, until Gov. Scott Walker appoints her replacement.

Keach’s term ends in January of 2015.

Asked if there was anyone she wanted to see get the job, Keach said she was confident in her staff.

“I hired Lou with the intention that he would serve in my stead if I left office for any reason,” Keach said.

“I know that the county is in good hands with them,” she said.

The Rock County Board has debated changing the coroner’s office from an elected, political position to a county-appointed medical examiner’s office.

Voters approved an advisory referendum in support of the change in 2010, and Keach said the board is expected to make a decision on the issue next year.

Her resignation will not affect that process, Keach said.

“They’ll go forward with whatever they’re going to do,” she said.

The discussion played a role in her decision to step down “to some extent,” Keach said.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to apply for the medical examiner position,” she said.

Keach will take a nursing position in the private sector in Wisconsin, she said, but otherwise declined to get more specific with her plans.

Her tenure as coroner was not without controversy—Keach drew criticism for disposing of drugs from death scenes by burning them in her backyard, and a former employee filed complaints against her in 2010 alleging a hostile work environment.

The timeline for when the governor’s office will pick her replacement is not yet clear.

Walker’s office had not yet received Keach’s resignation as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, a state official said, and can’t begin the process until it does.



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