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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County OKs Two Changes To Shoreland Zoning Law

Marinette County’s Shore-land Wetland Zoning ordinance is now apparently in compliance with Wisconsin state laws. By unanimous vote on Tuesday, Jan. 30, the Marinette County Board approved the two changes Zoning Administrator John LeFebvre told them were needed to bring the ordinance into line with changes adopted by the state legislature last April. He had said last month that the changes to rules for substandard lots and non conforming uses and structures actually make life easier for property owners within the shoreland/wetland zoning boundaries.

LeFebvre told the board he and the committee had done what they were instructed to do last month - separated the two provisions from the remainder of the 50-page ordinance. These two items are the same as what was presented last month, and adoption would bring the county into compliance, he said.

Supervisor Russ Bauer asked that they remove Section 2 on page 11, which stated: “Authorize the correction of any grammatical or typographic errors found within the other sections of Chapter 21.”

“I don’t feel this is pertinent to this part of the ordinance and should be a separate issue at another time,” he said.

“I think if you publish an ordinance it should be grammatically correct,” LeFebvre commented.

“If the County Board passes something we should know what it says,” Super-visor Connie Seefeldt shot back. “If there are errors, bring them to the board next time to be corrected.”

“This is an addition to the ordinance you presented last time,” Supervisor Kathy Just objected, pointing out he had just told them the two provisions were exactly the same. She said she had searched the ordinance presented last month without finding that paragraph.

LeFebvre said Supervisor Cheryl Wruk had found 18 grammatical errors in the proposed ordinance the board had considered last month and they should be corrected. In answer to questions from other supervisors, he said the three pages they were being asked to adopt at that time were free of typographical and other errors, but he was still not sure about the remainder of the original 50-page document.

“I’m kind of baffled as to why you would want non-substantitive changes to come back,” commented County Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison.

Supervisor Gilbert Engels felt it is a question of trusting department heads enough to believe they will correct grammatical errors without changing the meaning of the provisions.

Motion to remove the offending clause failed, with six supervisors voting in favor and 23 against. Those in favor were Bauer, C. J. Barrette, Paul Gustafson, Just, Don Pazynski and Seefeldt.

In other business, the board approved four committee appointments, saluted three county employees on their retirements, approved a Town of Peshtigo zoning change, supported some grant applications, okayed elimination of several jobs and creation of a few others, and approved plans for the Information Services Depart-ment to spend $120,000 to update the county’s computer system and its related network, as previously spelled out in the county’s long-term Capital Improvement Plan.

The Town of Peshtigo zoning change, from Ag-2 Agri-cultural and R-1 Residential to A-1 Agricultural with a conditional use permit,was requested by Michael A. Biehl on behalf of Calvary Temple Assembly. Approval will allow construction of a church, parsonage and accessory building on a 7.18-acre parcel on the north side of Hwy. 64 near the Marinette city limits.

Supervisors approved purchase of five 2013 Ford Police Utility interceptor vehicles from Witt Ford of Crivitz for the low bid total of $132,690, or $26,538 each.

The board also accepted an upgrade agreement for a NICE digital voice logging system at a cost of $9,533 for five years, as recommended by the Law Enforcement Committee.

Despite rain, fog and predictions of extremely hazardous driving conditions, all but one of the 30 supervisors from all parts of the county made it to the Courthouse in Marinette for the 9 a.m. board meeting. Supervisor Wruk was absent. The predicted icy roads never did develop.

At the start of the meeting, County Board Chair Vilas Schroeder announced, “for clarification,” that five county board supervisors do have I-Pads now, “but they do not have Internet access as some of you may have read.”

Supervisor Ken Casper, chair of the County Board’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee and vice chair of the Marinette County Association for Business and Industry (MCABI), introduced Ann Hartnell, newly appointed Executive Director of the county’s economic development group.

By way of background, Ken Casper said Hartnell and her husband, Brian, moved to Wausaukee in 1980. She holds a nursing degree and many business management credits. She and Brian operated a business in Wausau-kee, she worked as a nurse at Bay Area Medical Center, taught several business courses for NWTC in Crivitz and Niagara, serves as a trustee on Wausaukee Village Board, “and most importantly, had been a member of the MCABI Board of Directors for 17 years.”

Hartnell, for the benefit of new supervisors who may not be familiar with MCABI, explained they are a 501(6) private non profit, non governmental corporation that works with the county and its Industrial Development Corporation (MCIDC) to get funding to business entities in the county through state and federal grants, county revolving loan funds and Community Development Block Grants from the state. They also do regional work with organizations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and northeast Wisconsin to grow development in the area.

As an organization, Hartnell said MCABI currently is looking at some by-law changes to get a more rounded board with representatives of industry and education as members. “Our biggest goal,” she said, “is development, retention and expansion of business and industry in this county.”

County Administrator Ellen Sorensen read formal proclamations expressing gratitude of the County Board to three longtime county employees upon their retirements. They were Susan Bork, who worked more than 26 years with the Health and Human Services Department; Judith E. Drier, who worked more than 29 years with the Health and Human Services Department, and Lynn M. Schingick, who was employed more than 30 years with the Highway Department.

Drier and Schingick were unable to attend. Schroeder personally presented a plaque to Bork and wished her well in her retirement.

“I always enjoyed my job and my work,” Bork declared, expressing thanks to County Board for their support through the years. “I believe in the Birth to Three program,” Bork declared, urging the board to continue supporting that program. “My goal was always to make a difference, and I believe this program does that...investing early means investing smart!”

The board without dissent approved several personnel changes as recommended by the Personnel Committee and heads of the affected departments.

They agreed to eliminate one full time dispatcher position from the 911 Commu-nications Center and replace it with a full time Assistant Communications Director position, effective immediately; to eliminate a seasonal Forest Equipment Operator position with the Parks and Forestry Department and replace it with an additional 12-month Forest Equipment operator position, also effective immediately.

Several changes were approved for personnel in the Health and Human Services Department. Among them were elimination of one economic support worker position, a clerical account clerk position at the Job Center in Marinette, and an Elderly/ Physically Disabled Case Manager position in the Long Term Services Unit, all effective immediately.

Creation of a 13-week limited term mental health therapist position for Niagara was also approved, effective immediately. The explanation for the position states the current full time mental health therapist at the Niagara Clinic, which also serves Florence County, cannot keep up with the amount of referrals and the current case load, creating a six to eight week wait for new consumers to be seen for outpatient services, “and could potentially compromise the department’s ability to stabilize a consumer in crisis.”

The 13-week position is to be reviewed after 90 days to see if a full time mental health therapist is needed for the northern part of Marinette County. Engel expressed dismay that a situation that Health and Human Services Director Robin Elsner was aware of at budget time - months ago - had been allowed to continue so long.

The board easily approved, without discussion or dissent, a Forestry Committee recommendation to apply to Wisconsin DNR for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant to provide up to half the funds for acquisition of a 40-acre parcel in the Town of Amberg as an addition to the Marinette County Forest. The purchase fits with the County Forest Comprehensive Land Use Plan approved in 2006.

Recommendation from the Land Information Committee to apply for a $20,000 grant to control the aquatic invasive species Yellow Floating Heart on a privately owned pond in the Town of Athelstane was not approved so easily. By a 10 to 19 vote, it survived a motion to send it back to committee, after which the proposal was approved without dissent. The grant requires a 25 percent match from the applicant - in this case, the county - which County Conserva-tionist Greg Cleereman proposes to accomplish with work by personnel in his department, resulting in no additional impact on the county budget. Motion to apply for the grant was made by Land Information Committee Chair Ted Sauve, and seconded by Supervisor Joe Policello, a member of the committee.

Supervisor Robert Holley said he had voted against it in committee and continues to oppose it because the grant contains no responsibility for the homeowner to help pay for the cleanup. He said state-level DNR people told him there is supposed to be participation by the property owner, in fact under NR40, the Wisconsin Invasive Species Act, the property owner is 100 percent responsible. “Money is tight,” he declared, “and no matter if it comes from the state or the county, it’s all tax dollars!” He moved to have the resolution sent back to committee with a directive to talk about getting financial support for the cleanup from the property owners. There is only one property owner involved. Supervisor Clancy Whiting gave the second. Eventually the motion failed with 10 votes cast in favor and 19 against. The 10 supervisors who wanted it sent back to committee, in addition to Holley and Whiting, were Banaszak, Bauer, Alice Baumgarten, Bousley, Casper, Engel, Al Mans and Bill Walker.

Before the vote, Corporation Counsel Mattison noted that sometimes grant applications are time sensitive. She wondered if they would lose the chance if there was a delay.

LeFebvre did not think so, but he felt the owner might not be willing to pay and might become unwilling to cooperate. He said if the cleanup does not take place soon enough the invasive plant will spread to other waters. In order to even do the treatment they need cooperation of the property owner. It will require draining the pond and leaving it dry for three years, during which time they will dredge out all the soil in the pond, place it upland to dry out, and treat it to kill the aquatic weed seeds.

He said the owner - who was not identified - had built the 2-acre, plastic lined pond, and ordered plants for it from an out of state supplier. The invasive species came uninvited along with the desirable plants. Two years ago the county and state had spent “tens of thousands of dollars” fighting an infestation of Hydrilla in the pond, but apparently that treatment was not enough to wipe out the Yellow Floating Heart, LeFebvre said.

Engel asked if there were legal remedies, and said it was uncomfortable that the property owner was able to “bully” the county.

LeFebvre felt the DNR might have legal remedies available, but the county does not. He said if the plant is allowed to go to seed again and spread eradication will cost the county much more than staff time. Water fowl pick up the seeds and drop them in other waters, he said.

Supervisor Mike Behnke had sympathy for the land owner, asking if he would lose his land if he wasn’t able to afford the eradication expenses.

Supervisor Larry Nichols said it was Cleereman’s feeling that if they pushed too hard the landowner would refuse to cooperate.

The motion to send it back to committee then failed on the 19 to 10 vote, after which the main resolution approving the grant application passed on voice vote without dissent.

With no opposing votes the board approved several appointments recommended by Administrator Sorensen. They are:

*Retired Marinette Area Chamber of Commerce Director Mary Johns to serve on Twin County Airport Commission, filling out the term of former Peshtigo Mayor Dale Berman, who resigned for health reasons.

*Lynn Derby of Marinette to the Marinette County Consolidated Library Board,

*Marinette High School Principal Corey Lambie to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, and

*Barbara Tatar to the Marinette County Elderly Services Board.

During time for committee reports just before adjournment, Law Enforcement Committee Chair Ken Keller mentioned news reports of high inmate population at the county jail, and expressed his belief the county is a long way from needing to expand the jail. He distributed charts showing inmate population counts by the month and by the year, from 2004 to the present, along with the average rate of growth.

He said according to the state jail inspector, the maximum capacity of the jail is 169, and the average daily count in 2012 was 113.62, with the highest numbers in September, October, November and December, when the prisoner population averaged 127.23, 128,123 and 125 respectively. Highest count before that was in April of 2010, with 126.3.

However, Keller said, of the 113 daily prisoner count last year, 4.54 were from Oconto County, bringing the daily average number of Marinette County prisoners down to 109.

Referring to a study done by Brey & Associates in 2000, Keller said he was impressed with how accurate their predictions were. They projected 102 to 115 inmates by 2005, and the actual number was 97.9. Projection was 110 to 136 daily average by 2010, and the actual count was 109.97.

However, Keller said, the jail numbers do not address the availability of home monitoring systems (bracelet systems), “which we do not do much of, and maybe we need to look at that more...be pro-active!” He said the Criminal Justice Coordinating Com-mittee is continuing to look more at the alternatives to traditional jail incarceration. “We have to use more alternative incarceration,” Keller repeated. “It’s got to be a community effort... That’s why we put the hold on size back in the 1990s!”

Referring to the controversy that accompanied the decision to build the new Law Enforcement Center and jail back then, Keller declared, “We did make the right move with what we did at that time. I’m glad we did what we did.” The alternative proposal at the time was an addition to what was then a relatively new jail facility just north of the courthouse.

He expressed hope with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee in place since 2004, and now Sorensen on board as the new County Administrator, “hopefully we’ll get some new ideas.”

He said the jail population seems to be increasing most rapidly in the 40 to 59-year-old age group, and OWI arrests accounted for 60 percent of the growth between 2001 and 2006.


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