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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Continues Revamp Of Economic Development

Issue Date: February 14, 2019

Marinette County continued its moves toward a revamp of tourism and economic development at meetings of the Development Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 5 and Administrative Committee on Thursday, Feb. 7. Their recommendations will come to the full County Board for approval on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

The county last month severed ties with Marinette County Association for Business and Industry.

Recommendations approved for forwarding to County Board included termination of the Tourism Alliance, effective immediately; contracting with Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission for an Economic Development study, and adding a new tool to its economic development package by taking the actions necessary to become part of the state PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy Program). One of those actions includes a resolution declaring the county will allow repayment of PACE energy loans on properties that are taken by the county for non-payment of property taxes. The PACE program provides low or no interest financing on certain improvements to business properties that lead to reduction in energy bills and overall reduction of energy use. Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison said she and County Administrator John LeFebvre had questions regarding some of the PACE documents, but after some minimal changes she was comfortable with it. All members of both committees voted in favor of joining. Once membership becomes a reality County Board Chair Mark Anderson will appoint a county representative to the PACE governing board. So far, 34 of Wisconsin's 72 counties have become PACE members. Cost of membership is minimal. LeFEbvre said he has no specific projects in mind at this point but feels it should be beneficial. Supervisor Tom Mandli commented this appears to be a very forward thinking program.

Before voting in favor of a motion to disband the tourism Alliance, member Bonnie Popp commented that over the years, the county has stripped the Alliance of the purpose and authority for which it was created, and while she favors its purpose she would vote in favor of dissolution in hopes a satisfactory replacement can be created. She repeated, "The Alliance has lost the purpose and authority to do anything." The county contracts for tourism promotion services of City of Marinette Tourism Director Melissa Ebsch. The Alliance has not been asked for input or advice for many months and no longer had budget or advertising approval authority.

Supervisor Ted Sauve was opposed to discontinuing the Alliance before the county has a firm idea of what would come next. He and Supervisor Penny Chaikowski voted against the motion to disband. Votes in favor were cast by Mary Noll and supervisors Popp, Mandli, Robert Holley, and Clancy Whiting.Whiting is a recently appointed county representative on the Alliance, and has been very critical of the group.

Over opposition from Popp and Sauve the committee approved LeFebvre's advice to enter into an agreement with Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission to develop a strategic plan related to the role the County should assume in promoting, enhancing and/or conducting community and economic development for the cost of $5,750.00. Supervisors Popp and Sauve were opposed. Prior to the vote they had attempted to postpone discussion until the March 5 meeting and invite a Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission representative to attend and make a presentation on just what they would do for the county. LeFebvre disagreed with their suggestions, and said he did not know what kind of information they were looking for. Their motion failed, with opposing votes from supervisors Chaikowski, Mandli, Whiting, and FSA Representative Noll opposed.

At Mandli's urging the committee authorized the Land Information Director to work with the County Corporation Counsel and County Administrator to draft a slow no-wake ordinance to regulate boating activities during flooding events on the Peshtigo River below the dam in the City of Peshtigo. That ordinance will come back to the committee for further consideration before being forwarded to the full board. Supervisor Popp said she wanted more information before voting in favor so she was opposed. All others voted in favor.

Mandli said property owners on the river between the dam and the Bay have lost a lot of shoreline, and one had 15 feet of his property washed away. He proposed that the slow, no wake ordinance should be in effect only during the high water flood period each spring. It would affect only the area between the dam at Badger Paper Mill and the Bay. Mattison aid state law permits counties to do this on rivers and streams. Mandli proposed six feet as the high water level at which the ordinance would kick in, and there is a gauge below the dam where that level would be monitored. Mattison, Land and Water Administrator Greg Cleereman and LeFebvre will work on the ordinance. Enforcement would be by the Sheriff's Department, which now has a recreation officer, and possibly by the DNR.


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