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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Nov. 12 County Board Meet Will Include PFAS, Economic Issues

Issue Date: November 7, 2019

If discussions at the Marinette County Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 5 are any indication, the meeting of the full County Board on Tuesday, Nov 12 could be a long and difficult one.

The meeting is expected to include possible approval of a resolution supporting legislation requiring the DNR to speed up action on the PFAS contamination issues, and a presentation of the revised Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission report on the Economic Development Organizational Structure of Marinette County, and a proposed agreement with NewCap for a housing rehabilitation program financed by the county. Proposal is that NewCap, with the help of county financing, would purchase homes and possibly apartment buildings, refresh and rehabilitate them and then sell them to private purchasers.

County Administrator John LeFebvre said details of the proposed NewCap/County partnership are still being worked out. Need for more and better housing for people wanting to move into the county is viewed by many board members, including Board Chair Mark Anderson, as one of the much needed community development improvements needed to help employers in the county attract and retain workers.

The revised Bay Lake Economic Development and Tourism report includes some alternative recommendations this time around, but their preferred recommendation remains that Marinette county should contract with inVenture North for both economic development and Tourism promotion.

Also on the agenda is acceptance of the resignation of Dave Zahn from his position as County Board Supervisor from District 16, representing the Town of Grover. Zahn is former Parks and Rec Director for the City of Peshtigo.

Other agenda items for the Nov. 12 County Board meeting include discussion with Peter Johnson, Senior Senior Engineer with CenturyLink on the status of Broadband, appointment of Dean Schoen to the Veterans Service commission, ordinance changes to ATV/UTV routes, and setting compensation for County Board members in the next round of elections; approval of the 2020 work plan for the Forestry Department, transfer of a county tax deed property to the Village of Coleman, a zoning change for a Town of Pound parcel from single family residential to quarrying district, and some position changes for the Department of Health and Human Services, and several insurance issues, and appointment of Irene Mayou as county representative on the Emergency Medical Service Association.

The Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 5 opened at 9 a.m. to a standing-room-only crowd in the jury assembly room, largest meeting room in the courthouse. Most of those present were there to urge the committee to recommend that the full county board adopt a resolution calling on the Wisconsin State legislature to pass SB 302, which was introduced by Sen. Dave Hansen among others, and differ from a similar purpose bill introduced by State Rep. John Nygren. Intent of both is to push the DNR to promptly adopt enforceable standards for investigating and alleviating PFAS issues, which have been identified as a contaminant in ground and surface waters in the Town of Peshtigo and City of Marinette and is found in sludge from wastewater treatment plants in the cities of Marinette and Peshtigo.

Many of those attending the Development Committee meeting urged support for Bill 302.

At the Development Committee meeting Supervisor Robert Holley, Vice Chair of the County Board and Supervisor Bonnie Popp referred to complaints that the resolution is partisan, and urged that wording be changed from specifically supporting Bill 302 to a statement of supporting "action" on the PFAS issues, rather than the specific bill.

Before the vote Popp pointed out that on Tuesday, Nov. 12 the DNR is holding public hearings on PFAS issues and possible legislation at several locations around the state, including one in Green Bay. She felt supporting a specific bill prior to those hearings would be premature, since not all the information is available.

"County Board should not be supporting bills, it should be supporting concepts," Holley declared. He added the concept of clean water is great, but the DNR is already doing much of what SB 302 calls for, and he has been told the DNR is already doing what the resolution calls for.

Supervisor Tom Mandli urged passage of the resolution as urged by his fellow town of Peshtigo residents and property owners. He said the bill could be amended down the road again to change it to anything that is bipartisan, and it needs to get through the two houses of the legislature in Madison.

Motion to change the wording of the resolution to replace Bill 302 with "action" was approved by a narrow four to three vote, after which the resolution as amended was approved seven to zero an passed to County Board with a recommendation for approval.


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