Marinette County Facilities Are Open Again For PublicIssue Date: May 27, 2020
Marinette County facilities, including all county parks and the Courthouse in Marinette, were re-opened for normal operations on Tuesday, May 26 after being closed since March due to coronavirus concerns, but the monthly meeting of Marinette County Board was again held in the Theatre on the Bay on the Marinette campus of UW-Green Bay to allow easier social distancing.
The meeting began with a ceremony led by VFW member Roy Berto, an Army veteran, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany that ended the European portion of fighting in War II on May 8, 1945. Supervisor Ted Sauve, himself a veteran, introduced Berto and stood beside him holding the American flag during the ceremony. Small American Flags were given to each supervisor. Berto recited "This Ragged Old Flag." Sauve paid separate tribute to the 59,000 Army nurses who served "over there," mostly in Europe, during World War II, and thanked all the brave men and women who served. At the end, everyone present, masked and otherwise, joined in reciting the final verse of "God Bless America," rather than singing it, due to coronavirus spread by singing.
Administrator John LeFebvre reported that the county parks and boat landings are now open for day use, restrooms in all county parks were opened last week, and overnight camping in county park campgrounds and the county forest will open on Monday, June 1.
He reported that on Wednesday, May 20 "Mad Dog and Merrill" had been grilling near Strong Falls at Goodman Park, filming a segment for the 10th episode of their Midwest Grilling Show TV series for this year. LeFebvre said he will get the information out as to when the segment will be aired.
LeFebvre updated the board on the upcoming WCA convention reservation and gave dates of webinar training sessions for supervisors.
LeFebvre said June committee meetings will be held in the County Board Room at the courthouse, which is large enough to allow social distancing, but committee members who do not want to be present in person will still be allowed to participate by telephone.
Decision is still pending on location of the June 30 County Board meeting, but Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison and LeFebvre both advised that at some point they will need to go back to holding County Board meetings at the courthouse. LeFebvre said he will start having department heads come in each month to introduce themselves and explain the duties of their offices.
Ways to improve safety at the intersection of County Highways N and O will be discussed at the Infrastructure Committee meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 10. LeFebvre noted they have been discussing this since last August when concerns about allowing ATVs on County N led to removal of that permission. For now the committee discussion will be limited to safety of the intersection, because they do not have a current request for use by ATVs or snowmobiles, but he thinks once the safety issues are corrected that request will come back.
There had been some objections to a request from Title Town Jeepers to have a track on county property. LeFebvre explained the Jeepers will be having an obstacle course type track, not a mud run. Supervisor Al Sauld asked to have that put on as another agenda item for the June 10 Infrastructure Committee meeting, and Supervisor Al Mans asked to have discussion on the possibility of building an ATV/UTV campground on county-owned property in Dunbar added. LeFebvre commented that would be a good time for that discussion, since he and several others will be going to view that property next week.
The Development Committee meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, June 18 is to include a public hearing on rezoning two 40s near Leeman Lake northwest of Athelstane from Forestry to Recreational to allow future owners to construct year round homes there. The public hearing had been postponed from April because coronavirus restrictions prohibited having public participation. Year round homes cannot be built in Forestry zones.
The 2021 county budget policy and schedule were adopted as proposed by LeFebvre and approved by the Administrative Committee. All supervisors present voted in favor. Supervisors Mike Behnke and Karl Jaeger were absent and excused.
Supervisor Don Pazynski asked LeFebvre if he was still confident about this year's budget, in view of added expenses due to corona virus.
Le Febvre replied the added expenses are not as bad as the loss of revenue from reduced sales taxes, as a month with no park admission and campground fees, fewer zoning and sanitary permits, and lack of Health and Human Services billings because they were not able to meet in person with clients.
LeFebvre felt the budget for this year will be okay, and in August they will know the budget needs for 2021.
He said coronavirus expenses have cost the county $170,000 so far, "but now we're back to doing what we do best, which is providing services."
There were 767 coronavirus tests done at the recent free test site in Crivitz, in addition to a far greater number of tests done a other sites, including Bellin and Aurora clinics. He said positive results for every county resident tested rose by only 11, from 21 to 32, but cautioned, "That doesn't mean it isn't out there in the community."
A bit later in the meeting, after some urging by LeFebvre and Mattison, the board approved a resolution declaring a Public Health Emergency due to COVID-19 and stating that response to and recovery from the pandemic has imposed a strain on the resources of the county, but at this point the exact amount of the fiscal impact is unknown.
Mattison explained the board needed to pass the resolution to be eligible for reimbursement of COVID-related expenses. She said while the governor's Safer At Home proclamation was in effect everyone was automatically eligible, but once it was suspended the automatic eligibility stopped. At their request, County Board Chair John Guarisco came in on Friday, May 15 to sign an order declaring a Marinette County State of Emergency, which he did, and County Board was now asked to ratify it. After some discussion vote in favor of adoption was without dissent.
Before the vote, Supervisor Bill Stankevich asked if adoption could be postponed until there could be at least some public comment on it, but Mattison urged the board to adopt it. She reiterated that the resolution brings no new restrictions, "the sole purpose would be to keep the county eligible for reimbursement."
There were concerns that the resolution has no end date. Emergency Management Director Eric Burmeister said at the federal level the Health Secretary has declared a federal public health emergency with no ending date, and by adopting the resolution today County Board would just be saying a public health emergency still exists in Marinette County.
Guarisco asked if repeal would take action by the County Board, and was told that is probably the case. He felt the board should adopt the resolution now, and if the time comes later this summer, they could end it.
Supervisor Bonnie Popp asked if there were any "cons" to having this resolution in place and Guarisco said they had scrutinized it quite a bit and could find none "I was on the lookout for all of this, and I haven't found any bumps in the road yet," he commented.
Also approved after brief discussion was action to deny a notice of claim on the advice of the county's liability insurance carrier. Mattison explained there had been a notice of claim filed by someone who was injured while he was a jail inmate.
The notice of claim states that on Sept. 18 of 2018 Jesse Clubb, while in custody at the jail, broke his tooth when he bit into a piece of hard plastic that appeared to be from a cutting board. He is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages.
According to the notice of claim. Clubb had turned the piece of plastic over to Sgt.Brian Wruk, who admits that he received it, yet turned it over to the "kitchen" rather than preserving it. Clubb filed an inmate grievance form on Sept. 14, 2018, after which he was provided with Tylenol by medical staff with Advanced Correctional Healthcare on several occasions, and was not taken to see a dentist until Oct. 25 of 2018, when he had three teeth removed. The other two teeth were infected because of the failure to treat the broken tooth according to dental records from a local dental office. The claim states Clubb filed at least five grievances with the jail complaining about his treatment and lack of appropriate medical, and alleges that the Sheriff's Department and its employees, and Aramark, the food vendor, were negligent in regard to the plastic that found its way into Clubb's food, and the jail staff were negligent in their failure to provide appropriate dental care. Clubb is being represented by Nathaniel Cade, Jr. of the Cade law Group LLC in Milwaukee.
In response to questions from supervisors, Mattison said this notice is the first step in the process, and approving it does not mean that Clubb will get no settlement, it means the process will be moved along. Negotiations between parties have not yet begun. "This person has every right to sue us," Mattison commented.
Reconstruction of the old law enforcement center building on Ella Court Street into a county resource center that adjoins the courthouse is continuing on schedule, LeFebvre said. Completion is expected in mid October.
The only somewhat significant change order was addition of $5,000 to fit the elevator into the shaft. Builders are now struggling to find ways to get the HVAC pipes in without having to drop the ceiling.
A list of appointments to outside committees was approved as presented.
The board approved transfer of $40,800 from the jail Assessment fund balance to Capital Outlay for purchase of a Skytron disinfection robot, which was described as a UV light that can disinfect an entire room in 15 minutes. The room must be locked and vacant while it is in use, and the robot will be used in the future as well as during the coronavirus pandemic. It is not eligible for FEMA reimbursement at this time Burmeister said, but it may become eligible in future. If so, there may be an after-the-fact application.
There also was no dissent on approval of a contract with the Grant County Department of Health and Human Services through which Marinette County will get $82,716 for services provided by Share Academy.
Sauve had inquired last month about the status of a proposed project for a development on Green Island. He had received a notice from the island's owner informing him that nothing has changed in the past year, "and the development is dead in the water." The owner said he is not working with any developers at this time. Sauve asked that the letter be kept on file.
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