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Mattison, Holtger, Kass Share “Interim Administrator” Duties

For at least a month or two, and perhaps longer, Marinette County government will be headed by a 3-member “county administrator” committee comprised of Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison, Human Resources Director Jennifer Holtger and Finance Director Pat Kass. That decision was reached Tuesday, May 27 by unanimous vote of the board’s 12-member Executive Committee following half an hour of closed door discussion. Each member of the administrative team is to be paid $1,500 per month for handling the additional duties.

At a special meeting on Thursday, May 15, County Board had accepted the resignation of Administrator Ellen Sorensen, approved the Executive Committee’s recommendation to grant her 10 weeks’ severance pay, and authorized the Executive Committee to select an interim administrator. Exact figure was not available at press time, but the 10 weeks pay is equivalent to approximately $20,000.

Sorensen resigned, effective immediately, on Monday, May 12, just prior to a closed meeting of the Executive Committee. The Committee also had met in closed session on the afternoon of Thursday, May 8. In each case the agenda listed “personnel matters” as reason for the closed session.

When supervisors who had not attended the Executive Committee meetings asked to be filled in on reasons for granting severance before voting on it, County Board Chair Vilas Schroeder said that “was a subject of the Executive session...confidential and it will remain that way.” He added, “I am not at liberty, and neither is anyone else, to disclose anything that was discussed in closed session.”

Supervisor Alice Baumgarten asked if there was to be extra compensation for the county board chair and vice chair, apparently as part of the administrative team, but was told there would be none.

At the May 12 special board meeting Supervisors Dave Zahn and Larry Nichols had asked for more information about alternatives to the County Administrator form of government, and Schroeder said he would include that on a future agenda.

However, alternatives were not on the agenda for either the full board meeting or the Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Supervisor Mike Behnke pointed out that the request had been made to learn about the three options, and asked what had become of that, since it had never been discussed. Schroeder said after the last board meeting he sent an e-mail to everyone suggesting they read about the three forms of county government in their handbooks, and asked them to comment to him if they wanted to consider the alternatives. There were no requests, so he did nothing and they moved forward with filling the interim vacancy. “If I’m misunderstanding, please contact me, because the wheels to fill this position are in motion,” Schroeder declared.

(See related chart on this page.)

Tuesday’s Executive committee action came at the end of a long morning for county supervisors. For some it had started with committee meetings prior to the 9 a.m. regular monthly County Board meeting that ran until 11:20 a.m. The Executive Committee meeting had been scheduled for 11 a.m., but started half an hour late. Almost the entire County Board stayed for the closed committee session, but only the 12 official members had the right to vote. No one except County Board members was present for the Executive session. Mattison took the roll before the committee went into closed session, then waited out in the hallway while the meeting was in progress. Of the 30 County Board members, only supervisors Don Phillips and Don Pazynski did not remain in the board room for the Executive Committee discussions.

During the full board meeting supervisors without dissent approved changes to the Bay Area Medical Center Articles of Incorporation that effectively free it from County Board oversight. Menominee County Board also had unanimously approved the changes at its last meeting. The changes clear the way for BAMC to partner with another non-profit, Aurora Health Care, for either modernization of the existing hospital facility or construction of an entirely new one, BAMC Administrator Ed Harding had told County Board at its meeting in April. At the April meeting action was tabled to give time for written modifications requested by County Board. As approved by both counties, the board of directors is to have no fewer than nine members, four from each county. However, due to the new wording, future changes can be made without input from either county board.

Supervisors also approved hiring Tracy Tilot to fill the vacant Child Support Director position, approved appointment of Supervisor Russ Bauer to the board of the Shelter Care/Group Home, Supervisor Paul Gustafson to the County Consolidated and Nicolet Federated Library Boards and Lois Outcelt to the County Consolidated Consolidated Library Board.

They heard detailed annual reports from Health and Human Services Director Robin Elsner and Veterans Service Officer Bill Kowalski.

On behalf of the Tri-City United Way, Phil Everhart and Executive Director Rose O’Hara reported on their organization’s new program, “Educational Success - Cradle to Career” program.

They agreed to contract with the State of Wisconsin for debt collection, enter a contract with Baycom for $29,855 for purchase of some Efatom Time Base Equipment needed to keep the radio communications tower at Pound working correctly. They also agreed to participate in the USDA-APHIS-WS and WDNR on the deer damage abatement program, and approved the Aquatic Invasive Species Strategic Plan as recommended by the Land Information Committee, as well as several recommendations from the highway committee and some changes to the county’s personnel policies and procedures manual.

The meeting started on a dissident note, when four supervisors, including Supervisor Ken Casper, voted not to accept the minutes of the April board meeting. They had been posted on-line but were not included in the printed board meeting packet.

“A few months ago this board voted they wanted the packet to continue as it was, with everybody to get a copy,” Casper declared.

County Clerk Kathy Brandt said after that County Board voted to support the paperless initiative and get information only on their i-pads. Casper repeated the vote, very recently was to keep the packet “as is” - printed. He had not read the minutes, as they were on-line and he does not get Internet at home. Voting “no” on the minutes, by show of hands rather than roll call, were Supervisors Casper, Shirley Kaufman, Alice Baumgarten and Russ Bauer.

Three retiring county employees were recognized for their years of service: Linda Warren, 22 years with UW-Extension as a program assistant; Gary Lynwood, 12 years as a maintenance technician, and Dian Fluoro, three years as a library assistant.


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