Menominee Co. Deputy Fired, Under Investigation for Sexual Assault

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12/20/2019- A Menominee County sheriff’s deputy under investigation for the sexual assault of a teenager has been fired. Sergeant Brian Helfert was terminated following a case review and due process hearing where it was determined he violated the department’s policies and rules of conduct. The Sheriff’s Office says the potential for criminal charges also exist as Helfert has been accused of criminal sexual conduct involving a 16-year-old Menominee High School Student, but the decision to fire Helfert is unrelated to the decision of whether to file charges. Menominee County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Rogg is expected to make that determination in the immediate future. No further information on the matter has been released by the Sheriff’s Department.

Suspect in Aggravated Assault Identified, May Have Left Area

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12/20/2019- Officials with the Marinette Police Department have identified a suspect in an aggravated assault that occurred in the 1800 block of Stephenson Street earlier this month. Police say they have reason to believe that suspect has left the Wisconsin/ Michigan area and they’re now working with the Marinette County DA’s Office in regard to an arrest warrant in the case. Further information will be released as the case proceeds. Anyone with additional information on the matter is asked to contact the Marinette Police Department or Crime Stoppers.

CenturyLink Boosting Internet Accessibility Across Marinette County

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12/20/2019- One phone and internet provider is making a major push to increase broadband access in Marinette County. CenturyLink is working with the federal government under the Connect America Fund to use telephone exchanges and digital nodes to expand internet coverage. Peter Johnson Sr with CenturyLink says the program has existed for about three years now, but efforts in 2019 and 2020 will finally bring access to some of the most under-served parts of the county.
The company has started or proposed expansion work in nearly every region of Marinette County. However, there remain some residents who still can’t get online. Johnson says the county’s topography and government red tape have presented some significant cost and permitting hurdles.
Most of CenturyLink’s current broadband expansion efforts should have residents online by the end of next year, though some carryover 2019 projects are actually expected to wrap up in the first half of 2020.

Respite Care Closing December 31st

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12/20/2019- A local organization supporting home-bound residents and their caretakers is closing its doors at the end of the year. Respite Care of Marinette and Menominee Counties has announced it will end operations December 31st. The decision was made at the agency’s most recent board meeting because of their ongoing struggle to recruit and retain volunteers. The non-profit organization served as a supportive care program for persons suffering from life-threatening, chronic, or progressing illnesses and worked to help caregivers maintain emotional and personal well-being through intermittent care giving relief. Respite Care says, following their closure, UPCAP of Michigan and Marinette County’s Aging and Disability Resources Center are two alternative organizations that may be able to assist those previously served by Respite Care.

Duby Park Ice Rink Now Open

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12/20/2019- There’s no need to stay inside all winter long. The ice rink at Duby Park in Menominee is open for the season. The rink is free to use and open to the public. Open skating hours are from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily as long as the ice remains in good condition and weather permits.

Residents Demand Action on Local PFAS Contamination

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12/19/2019- Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul was in Marinette yesterday asking residents to share their stories of how PFAS contamination has impacted them and residents certainly responded. The listening session was held as part of the DNR’s ongoing effort to maintain an open line of communication with the public about the contamination caused by the manufacturing and testing of Tyco’s PFAS-containing firefighting foam. Many of the people who spoke Wednesday shared stories of significant and often unexplained health issues they believe may be linked to PFAS exposure. Kaul says his department and the DNR are working to ensure all responsible parties are held accountable, which includes considering legal action on the basis that Tyco knowingly withheld information about water contamination for years.
Though some interim actions have been taken, the true extent of the contamination or any long-term remedial solutions have yet to be determined. Among the issues needing to be addressed is how to establish a new, reliable drinking water source for affected Town of Peshtigo residents. Tyco has recommended extending municipal water from the City of Marinette, but Christine Haag with the Wisconsin DNR says they’ve rejected the company’s latest Remedial Actions Options Report because it left too many critical questions unanswered.
Two more listening sessions will be held on the PFAS issue- being planned for the third Wednesday in both January and February. Residents can also ask questions or provide feedback on investigation or cleanup efforts by emailing dnrjcipfas@wisconsin.gov.

2020 Waterfront Festival Approved

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12/19/2019- It may seem far off, but organizers of Menominee’s Waterfront Festival have already begun preparing for next year’s event. The 4-day 2020 Waterfront Festival was unanimously approved by Menominee’s City Council Monday. The budget for the 2020 festival will be within the same parameters as last year’s event, with expenses totaling around $72000 with a balance between those costs and revenues collected by the event being projected. Nancy Douglas has again agreed to serve as Festival Director in 2020 and will be paid $5000 for the work. The 2020 Waterfront Festival in Downtown Menominee will run August 6th through the 9th.

Frozen Road Law in Place for Northern WI

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12/19/2019- Wisconsin’s frozen road law took effect at midnight last night in DOT Zones 1 and 2, roughly the northern half of Wisconsin. This allows for heavier loads on trucks carrying most forest products and salt and sand for winter maintenance. The declaration is only issued once the ground under highway pavement is frozen to a depth of at least 18 inches, allowing the maximum gross weight for trucks hauling logs, salt, or sand in the winter to go up to 98,000 pounds on vehicles with a minimum of five axles. The higher weight limits do not apply to county or local roads or any highways or bridges specifically posted for lower weight limits. The frozen road determination for the southern portion of the state will be made once conditions warrant.

County Board Vote on Second Amendment Resolution Delayed

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12/18/2019- Before it even came up for a vote, a proposal to authorize a resolution defending Marinette County residents’ right to bear arms was nixed from the County Board agenda Tuesday. Earlier this month the Public Services Committee postponed any action on becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary county, but the Administrative Committee later did approve sending an amended resolution simply opposing legislation that would infringe upon Second Amendment rights and forwarded that recommendation to the County Board. Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison informed the full Board at the start of the meeting that the item should not have been taken up by the Administrative Committee in the first place and therefore, needed to be removed from Tuesday’s agenda. However, Supervisor John Guarisco disagrees, saying he feels it’s not specifically a Public Services issue and was, in fact, an appropriate matter to be taken up by the Administrative Committee.
Mattison says Guarisco could choose to take the matter to the County’s Executive Committee if he doesn’t want it handled solely by the Public Services Committee. The resolution is expected to be discussed again at the Public Services Committee meeting in January.

Marinette County Won’t Plow Forest Roads

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12/18/2019- Property owners on Marinette County forest roads will need to find a private contractor to perform winter road maintenance. The issue first came to the Infrastructure Committee months ago when the Town of Stephenson notified residents on County Forest Road 1630 they’d no longer be plowing the road and those residents then asked the County to step in and take over. The Town is believed to have backed out of plowing because municipalities are prohibited from offering services that compete with private industry, but the County has it in their 15-year Forestry Plan not to plow any of the 236 miles of forest road. The Infrastructure Committee tried to find some resolution to the matter Tuesday and while it was suggested the County opt in to plowing only forest roads with permanent residents, Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison cautioned them against taking this type of selective action.
County Administrator John Lefebvre says even if the County Board and the DNR were to amend the Forestry Plan to include plowing forest roads, the majority of these roads are not designed to accommodate the county’s plow and salt trucks.
While members expressed their sympathy for the impacted residents, they also agreed there are too many legal and logistic challenges standing in the way of plowing any or all of the county forest roads. The Infrastructure Committee ultimately voted to continue to follow the County Forestry Plan and not provide winter maintenance on forest roads.

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