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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Resource Center Nearly Ready For Use

Issue Date: November 11, 2020

At what may be one of the shortest monthly meetings on record, Marinette County Board on Tuesday, Nov. 10 approved UWEX contracts for 2021 for a total of $75,660; authorized application to the state for funding to pay half the cost of a 124-acre property immediately adjacent to the wayside between Marinette and Peshtigo that the county is purchasing from the State DOT for $80,000; and approved sale of a quarter-acre outlot in the Town of Niagara to the Lake Shannon District for $130, with the county to prepare and record the deed.

Supervisors also authorized Communications Director Kirsten Burmeister to apply for a Federal NextGen Grant that will, if successful, provide the county with $70,179 toward the total project cost of $116,965, leaving the county with only $46,786 left to pay. Burmeister had explained at the most recent Public Services Committee meeting that the project involves upgrades for 911 emergency communications/dispatch equipment that were already in the county's capital improvement plan for 2022.

County Administrator John LeFebvre reported that renovating the long vacant Ella Court Building adjacent to the courthouse into the new County Resource Center continues to move ahead almost on schedule, with plans still in place to have the Economic Support Branch of the Health and Human Services Department up and running there by the end of November. Accomplishing that move as planned will save the county rent on the space it presently occupies in the NWTC building on University Ave.

However, LeFebvre told the board plans to move furniture into the building last week "didn't quite go as planned." With installation of elevators for the building delayed due to Covid-19 production interruptions, tentative plans were made to move new furniture into the building through windows instead.

However, LeFebvre said after looking over the window openings available, "the furniture company determined that bringing the furnishings in through the windows would not be wise." He said the elevator should be in by the end of this week, and furniture will be in by the end of next week, provided the elevator is up and running as expected.

Communications are another problem, since not all wiring is completed for the new Data Center on the fourth floor of the building, so information will need to be transmitted via the existing Information Technology office in the basement of the original courthouse building.

As to setting up the relocated Economic Support offices, LeFebvre said the moving will be done by county maintenance staff, with the help of "a nice lift truck" owned by the Highway Department. Basically, only filing cabinets, chairs and things like computers, telephones and office supplies will need to be moved from the old quarters, where furnishings belong to NWTC and will be left there.

Crews have started cleaning up outside the Ella Court Building with hopes of being done before snow flies, LeFebvre said. He added that due to Covid-19 concerns there will be no ribbon cutting or other celebrations to mark re-opening of the long-vacant building, but he will post photos and other information on social media pages.

LeFebvre also reported on a proposed change to the grant from the county's unused Community Development Bloc Grant funds to the City of Niagara. Originally the money was to have been used to pay for sidewalks and new street lights being installed in conjunction with reconstruction of Hwy. 141 through the city. However, the street lights belong to WE Energies and cannot be turned over to the city, so instead the funds will pay for widening of Tyler Road to provide a recreational trail to boat landings, recreational fields and a sledding hill. The sidewalk project is still going forward, and LeFebvre commented, "Hopefully the state will approve the new plans for the Tyler Road improvements."

At the start of the meeting County Board Chair John Guarisco read a poem in honor of Veterans Day coming up on Wednesday, Nov. 11, and Supervisor Ted Sauve called on everyone to remember the 29 crew members who were carried to the bottom when the Edmund Fitzgerald sank into the deep, cold waters of Lake Superior with all hands aboard exactly 45 years ago - on Nov. 10, 1975.

Century Farm Awards for 2020 were presented to Ray Lipovac and Joan Staab and to Ralph and Joyce Seewald, represented by Sandy and Bruce Seewald, recognizing the two farms for 100 years under the ownership of the same family. "That's quite an accomplishment in this day and age when family farms are becoming less and less common," Guarisco remarked.

In one of its few action items for the day, the board unanimously approved LeFebvre's appointment of Kerry E. Valley as a consumer/advocate on the governing board of the Marinette County Aging and Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC). In her letter of interest, Valley said she believes she would be an excellent advocate for aging adults as well as for adults with developmental disabilities, and explained that she is a retired children's protective services social worker who worked for Marinette County Health and Human Services for 23 years, and prior to that held a position with the Brown County Housing Allowance Office as a client services specialist, where her caseload consisted primarily of aging and/or disabled clients.

She wrote, "My entire career has involved working with children, adults, and families in one capacity or another. I am aware of the many challenges faced by the residents of our county including, but not limited to, financial issues, drug/alcohol abuse, mental health issues, domestic violence, declining health issues and disabilities as we age, and difficulties associated with our fast paced society including modern technology," and concluded, "I believe my professional experiences will be an asset to the ADRC. In addition, as an older adult myself (over 65 years old), I recognize many of the challenges that face us as our bodies and minds age."

Without discussion or dissent, County Board also approved renewing the Chief Elected Officials Consortium Agreement between the counties of the Wisconsin Bay Workforce Development Area that was first adopted in October of 2012 and amended in May of 2016.

Due to continuing Covid-19 restrictions, the meeting was again held in the Herbert L. Williams Theatre on the UW-Green Bay-Marinette Campus at 750 W. Bay Shore Street in Marinette, rather than at the courthouse.

At the Administrative Committee meeting on Thursday, Oct. 5, Supervisors Tricia Grebin, Don Pazynski, Rick Polzin, and Connie Seefeldt discussed a proposal to support efforts to have property tax assessments done on a regional or county-wide basis, rather than by individual municipalities. They felt no action was necessary, so there was no recommendation for County Board.

They were informed that another eligibility list is needed for entry level, lieutenant and sergeant positions on the Sheriff's Department. There were 21 applicants for entry level positions, but in the latest round of testing, only five applicants qualified to test, and only three showed up.

HR Director Jennifer Holtger reported there are currently 24 vacancies in positions throughout the various county departments.


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