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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Co. Board Bids Farewell To Departing Supervisors

Marinette County Board bade a fond farewell to two long-time supervisors at their last meeting Tuesday, March 25, and paid tribute to a third, Mel Sharpe, of Peshtigo, who passed away on March 6. Supervisors Connie Seefeldt, who served 14 years on the board, and Bill Walker, a veteran of 32 years on the board, are not seeking re-election.

Hopefully, by the time the board meets again for reorganization on Tuesday, April 15 three new supervisors will have been elected to take their place. There are no contested races for any of the 30 County Board seats to be filled on April 1, and no candidate on the ballot at all for the City of Marinette, District 24, seat Walker is vacating.

Sharpe’s name will remain on the ballot for District 19 in the City of Peshtigo. If he gets a majority of the votes, County Board Chair Vilas Schroeder will appoint a replacement. If a write-in candidate gets the most votes and is willing to accept the job, the seat will go to that person. The same rule will apply for Walker’s position.

David Zahn, sole candidate for the District 16, Town of Grover seat currently held by Seefeldt, was present as an observer for Tuesday’s board meeting.

Walker, at 92, is the oldest member of County Board and has been serving continuously longer than any other supervisor - 32 years - 30 of them as chair of the Forestry, Parks, Lands and Outdoor Recreation Committee.

During recognitions near the start of Tuesday’s meeting, Schroeder presented plaques to the outgoing supervisors recognizing their years of service on County Board, and added a few comments about each.

“I’m going to miss her,” Schroeder said of Seefeldt who had served with him on the Finance Committee. “She was an active and informed member and always asked a lot of valuable questions, things I hadn’t thought about,” he commented.

On behalf of the entire family, Sharpe’s daughter, Jann Rettke, received the plaque recognizing his 22 years on County Board. He said Sharpe was quiet but a good supervisor who represented his district well and was a valuable member of the Highway Committee.

“This tree was probably planted while Bill was in office,” Schroeder quipped as he handed Walker the wooden based plaque recognizing his long service on the board and on the Forestry Committee. He mentioned that Walker also represented Marinette County on the Wisconsin County Forests Association and was an officer on that group.

“I never dreamed I would be here this long,” Walker said as he accepted his plaque, adding, “but if you like what you’re doing, it’s not work.” Walker said he had loved his work with the board and the Forestry and Parks Committee. He said he is pleased to believe that the two departments are in better shape now than they were when his tenure on the board started. He said new survey methods have enabled them to have better survey lines which means fewer timber trespass problems. He said the Parks and Forestry departments are fortunate to have excellent employees, “They’re self motivated and they do a good job!” he declared.

Supervisor Ted Sauve at the end of the meeting had a few words of praise for each of the departing supervisors. He referred to Seefeldt’s “devoted integrity of leadership,” and told her, “Your predecessor, Adolph Staidl, is no doubt smiling down upon you!”

“We were all stunned ay the death of Mel Sharpe,” Sauve declared. “Mel didn’t speak often, but he always voted in the best interest of the county, and he was the most congenial person I have ever met!”

Seefeldt took the podium during time for public comment at the start of the meeting and had a few things to say about her 16 years on County Board. Some of those things were complimentary. Some were not.

“It seems like just yesterday when I slipped into this room, took my oath of office and began my journey as a public servant for Marinette County,” she said. That was 14 years ago.

“First of all, I’d like to thank God for leading me here,” she said. She thanked her family for their continued support, and her constituents for putting their trust in her, “not just to be a ‘yes’ person and accept the status quo, but to ask questions and make things better.

“I did not come here with an agenda, nor do I leave with one,” she declared. “But I believe in truth and honesty and transparency.

“It has been a tenuous ride Through it all I have served the taxpayers with the honesty and integrity they deserve from me. I sought the truth and attempted, with the information supplied to committees and County Board, to be fair and honest for taxpayers and with employees,” said Seefeldt, who spent many of her County Board years as a member and then chair of the Personnel Committee.

“There are many dedicated supervisors in this room and some that are no longer here,” Seefeldt went on. “It has been my honor to serve with them and I’d like to thank them.”

However, she went on, “Looking back, I know that some of the information given us was not always truthful or the whole story. I have put in thousands of hours seeking answers and spent sleepless nights wondering who could be trusted. How sad is that, when time could be much better spent actually serving the people we are elected by.

“It’s not easy admitting you’ve been duped, but it’s even more upsetting that it happened,” she went on and added, “Shame on those responsible!” She did not elaborate on who she was referring to.

She concluded, “As I told some of you, I’m not moving out of the county and will continue to fight for truth and transparency in government. To the honest people in the room, my prayers for continued strength!”

She concluded, “Seek the truth, keep up the good fight and keep asking questions!”

She ended with a reminder that Tuesday, March 25 was National Agriculture Day. “Don’t forget to thank an American farmer for helping to make our food abundant, affordable and safe!” Seefeldt and her family are Dairy farmers and she serves with the National Milk Producers Federation.


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