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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Executive Committee, Not County Board, To Meet By Phone March 31

Issue Date: March 25, 2020

For perhaps the first time since Marinette County became a county, there will be no County Board meeting in March. Due to the state of emergency that has been declared due to coronavirus issues, instead of a meeting of the full 30-member County Board the 7-member Executive Committee will convene via telephone at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 31 to deal with necessary County Board business.

The meeting will include a 9:05 a.m. public hearing on a proposed Community Development Block Grant to fund some improvements in the City of Niagara, and persons wishing to comment are asked to do so by mail or e-mail.

Other main agenda items include establishing pay for the three Constitutional officials to be elected in November for four year terms beginning in January of 2021 - County Clerk, Register of Deeds and County Treasurer; some changes in County Board rules and procedures as recommended by either the Executive or Administrative committees, and approving purchase of approximately 123 acres of land adjacent to the Wayside on Hwy. 41 between Marinette and Peshtigo from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for $80,000. The county is planning to apply for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant which would cover up to $40,000 toward the purchase price if approved.

The board is also expected to approve proposed amendments to the county's procurement policy; okay budgets of $3,175 for the Beecher Lake Eurasian Water Milfoil treatment program, and $11,630 for Phase Two of the Lake Noquebay Nutrient Study, and transfer of a tax deed property to the Town of Dunbar with the town to pay $3,313 to cover transfer costs and all taxes due.

The committee will consider recommendations to lease office space in the Courthouse for one year to Forward Service Corporation for $1,957 per month; a contract with Johnson Controls for HVAC work at a cost of $39,500, and giving Marinette County Industrial Development Corporation (MCIDC), rather than the Infrastructure/Forestry Department, responsibility for managing and selling properties taken for delinquent taxes that are improved under a loan fund and property rehabilitation agreement with NEWCAP that was approved by County Board in February.

The Executive Committee is comprised of County Board Chair Mark Anderson and Vice Chair Robert Holley, along with the chairs of each of the other five standing committees: Health and Human Services, Paul Gustafson; Public Services, Ken Keller; Infrastructure, Al Mans; Development, Ted Sauve, and Administrative, Vilas Schroeder.

Anderson and Schroeder are not candidates for re-election in the voting on Tuesday, April 7 and their terms will end prior to seating of new supervisors at the bi-annual County Board reorganization meeting in April. This this would have been their final meeting as members of the County Board, and now may be their final meeting as members of the Executive Committee.

At its meeting on Tuesday, March 17 the Executive Committee had agreed to proceed with the March 31 County Board meeting as scheduled, with the understanding that supervisors could participate via telephone if they could not attend in person, and also with advance notice that if a quorum of the full board was not present the Executive committee would immediately convene and approve provisions for continuation of governance. However, that decision was later changed and the full board meeting was eliminated.

County Clerk Kathy Brandt explained that decision was made after they learned the county does not have enough teleconference capability to allow participation of the full County Board by that means, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency in Wisconsin with orders to prevent gatherings of 10 or more persons who are not members of the same household, and to stay home except for necessities such as essential employment responsibilities, grocery shopping, etc. Notices were then posted for the Executive Committee meeting instead.

Brandt explained by County Board rules of procedure as spelled out in 2.07(8)(H) the Executive Committee has authority to act on behalf of the full County Board in emergencies.

Non-essential controversial issues were excluded from the agenda in view of the limited in-person participation, including a proposed resolution calling for a binding referendum to determine board size that was eliminated from the March 17 Executive Committee agenda for the same reason.

There have been proposals to divide the county into 15 or 21 supervisory districts rather than the current 30 in the redistricting that will follow completion of the 2020 census, which in turn would reduce County Board from from 30 supervisors to 15 or 21. If a change is eventually approved, it would not take effect until the 2022 elections.

As of Tuesday morning, March 24, members of the public wishing to participate in the public hearing or attend the Executive Committee meeting in person were to be admitted to the County Board room, but social distancing was to be maintained. However, in view of Gov. Tony Evers emergency declaration Tuesday afternoon banning all unnecessary travel and gatherings of more than 10 people in a single location, that provision appears to be no longer viable.

The meeting will start with adoption of a resolution amending the county's Citizen Participation Plan for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and/or Rural Economic and Area Development Initiative (READ) Programs, and then proceed at 9:05 a.m. to the previously scheduled public hearing for citizen input on the proposed grant for Niagara, which is mandatory for participation in the two grant programs.

The public hearing will include a basic overview of the CDBG-Close Program and then proceed to explanation of a proposed Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for use of "CLOSE" CDBG funds for improvements in the City of Niagara.

Individuals may attend the public hearing in person to address the committee, but public input by mail (addressed to the attention of County Clerk Kathy Brandt) or e-mail (mcclerk@marinettecounty.com) is being encouraged.

County Administrator John LeFebvre has prepared a presentation describing the grant project proposed for Niagara. County Board has already approved using the other half of Marinette County's CDBG CLOSE funds to finance conversion of the old Stephenson National Bank and Trust building in Wausaukee into a community and senior center, library and village hall.

Following the CDBG hearing the Executive Committee, functioning in lieu of the full County Board, is expected to adopt a resolution authorizing submission of the CDBG grant application on behalf of the City of Niagara, approve a CDBG-required required policy prohibiting use of excessive force and barring of entrances and/or exits for non-violent civil rights demonstrations, and adopt a residential anti-displacement and relocation assistance plan, which is also a requirement of the CDBG grant program.

Other agenda items for the March 31 meeting include announcements and updates on county matters by LeFebvre and Anderson and a written annual report by Sheriff Jerry Sauve on Sheriff's Department operations for 2019.


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