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Oconto Co. Reaffirms Stand to Build Jail Next to Courthouse

At its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, Oct. 24, Oconto County Board reaffirmed its decision to build the new jail/law enforcement center next to the courthouse in downtown Oconto.

By a a 28 to one vote, with supervisors Paul Bednarik and Alan Sleeter absent, the board formally withdrew its prior approval of the County Road S “North Site” and took several steps toward locating the new law enforcement center adjacent to the courthouse. Only Supervisor Rose Stellmacher was opposed.

Property acquisition is now set to begin near the courthouse, and the committee will begin soliciting for architectural/engineering services to design the building, which may be free standing or an attached addition to the existing structure.

The County S property, for many years studied as the new jail site, is now up for sale.

The meeting included a strong plea from former Oconto Mayor Don Nerenhausen to select an alternate site in the city.

Nerenhausen declared he is 100 percent in favor of the new jail, but does not approve of the location, “which will have a profound effect on the City of Oconto.” He charged the public had been “blind sided” by selection of the site in a residential area without advance notice or a public hearing. He predicted it will cost $3 million to acquire the courthouse area properties versus $250,000 to develop the County S site.

Board Chair Lee Rymer, at the start of the meeting had told the board he was proud of their decision in September to build at the Courthouse. He objected to Nerenhausen’s comments and said there had been plenty of information in the newspapers before their meeting.

The resolution approved by the board authorizes Administrator Kevin Hamann to begin acquiring 14 properties in the block directly north of the courthouse and recommends that the County’s law Enforcement Judiciary Committee negotiate with the city to vacate Adams Street from Park Avenue to Arbutus Street, to vacate the two alleys in the block north of the courthouse, and to relocate utilities to accommodate design of the proposed new law enforcement center.

If the city agrees to vacate the streets and alleys the county will gain nearly another acre to build on.

The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be on October 31, 2013 with the Public Hearing on the 2014 Budget at 9 a.m. followed immediately by the Annual Meeting. The proposed budget is $5.7 million higher than last year, a 13.4 percent increase. More than half that is for the new Law Enforcement Center, which is to be financed by bond sales. Another $1.5 million is to be spent on Human Services Aging and Disability Resource center. Total property tax levy proposed is $18.17 million, one percent higher than this year.

In other action at the Oct. 24 meeting, Rymer presented a certificate of appreciation to Robert Roszak for 19 years of outstanding service to the residents of Oconto County.

Six Amendatory zoning change ordinances were presented for adoption and approved for properties in the Towns Brazeau, Lena, Little Suamico, Mountain, and Townsend.

Other resolutions adopted included:

* Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan Agreement with Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission;

*Agreement with “Point and Pay,” a credit card company, to accept debit and credit card payments, a service that County Clerk Kim Pytelski said many taxpayers will appreciate;

*Authorization for New Family Care to contract with the Department of Health Services

*Approval of an exception to the sick leave pay out Policy, a pay increase for the Board of Canvassers and an expression of support for the Historical Society’s planned Annex Building at the Beyer home to accommodate an antique vehicle collection.


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