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Admin Committee Approves Resolution in Opposition of Legislation Impacting Gun Ownership

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The Marinette County Board of Supervisors will take up an amended recommendation to become a second amendment sanctuary county of sorts this month. While the Public Services Committee failed to come to a decision on the matter at their most recent meeting, Thursday the county’s Administrative Committee did approve forwarding a resolution to formally oppose the enactment of any legislation that might infringe upon the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. Supervisor John Guarisco introduced the issue to both committees and says it’s about taking a stand for what he and other Marinette County residents believe in.
“I just think it’s the way that Marinette County tax payers feel as a whole and I think it’s a good idea that we do it…This is a policy and, like any resolution, it’s worth about the paper it’s printed on, but it’s lets us send a message to Madison.”
However, County Board Chairman Mark Anderson opposes the resolution, saying while he’s not a proponent of stripping all gun rights, he does see a need for certain measures- like Governor Tony Evers’ proposed Red Flag law- to keep these weapons out of potentially dangerous hands.
“Having a very close family member in a hostage situation kind of brings it home to me. And if there’s a way to prevent any type of situation that that person in my family had to go through, I’m all for it. I’m with you on guns- I don’t have a problem and I understand all the uproar sometimes, but the reality is, it’s mental health.”
The resolution was amended by the Administrative Committee to actually remove any language formally declaring Marinette County a sanctuary county, while still providing some of the same protections as one. If ultimately approved by the board next week, Marinette County would be just the second county in the state to do so after Florence County passed a similar measure last month.

Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over Starts Today, Runs Through January 1st

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12/13/2019- To discourage impaired driving and enhance public safety, law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin will patrol in greater numbers and for longer hours during the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign that begins today. The Wisconsin DOT uses federal funds to support these stepped-up law enforcement efforts along with public education and outreach to help deter impaired driving. In 2018, alcohol-related crashes in Wisconsin resulted in 160 deaths and more than 3,000 injuries. While alcohol-impaired driving remains a concern, Wisconsin is also seeing a growing challenge with drugged drivers. Residents are reminded to celebrate responsibly this holiday season, which includes designating a sober driver if you plan to drink or downloading the free “Drive Sober” mobile app from the WisDOT website and using its free “find a ride” features to locate transportation alternatives. The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign runs through New Year’s Day.

K9 Lobo Joins Sheriff’s Department

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12/13/2019- A new K9 deputy will be joining the Marinette County Sheriff’s Department in the new year. The Public Services Committee accepted a donation from the Marinete County Canine Partners organization of the new police K9 officer Lobo. Lobo is an almost two-year-old German Shephard and comes to the department from a kennel in the Town of Wausaukee and will replace 10-year-old K9 Cash who is set to retire in January. Lobo will be partnered with handler Deputy Elias Spencer, who is also currently the handler of K9 Cash. It’s expected much of the equipment outfitting for K9 Cash can be reused with Lobo when he comes on board.

ATC Grant to Offer Landscaping Face Lift at Marinette High School

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12/13/2019- The City of Marinette’s Forestry Department is using nearly $2000 in grant funds to create new landscaping and tree plantings at Marinette High School. The Department was awarded the money by the American Transmission Company’s Community Planting Program. The program allows the department to improve electric reliability by educating residents about compatible planting activities consistent with transmission line safety and maintenance standards. City Forester Todd Lapacz says the grant will be applied to a new project with Marinette High School classes to install five landscaped beds and plant materials at the High School.

Bergold Bound Over for Trial

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12/12/2019- The Marinette County woman accused of hiding her mother’s dead body in a storage container for months has been bound over for trial. 60-year-old Paula Bergold is being charged with hiding a corpse, failure to report a death, and obstructing an officer and waived her preliminary hearing in court Wednesday. She was arrested in September for allegedly placing the body of Ruby Bergold in a container in the basement of a Town of Peshtigo home and then continuing to collect her deceased mother’s income for as long as four months. Paula Bergold told law enforcement she discovered her mother dead in the home but couldn’t bring herself to report it to police. She’s now set to be arraigned January 6th.

County Forest Road Residents Seeking County Action to Resolve Plowing Concerns

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12/12/2019- The Town of Stephenson has dropped out of providing winter road maintenance for some county forest road residents and now those homeowners want Marinette County officials to step in and do something about it. Around eight families on County Forest Road 1630 were recently given notice that the Town of Stephenson will no longer plow what they deem to be “private roads” and informed the residents they’d instead need to contract with an outside entity for snow removal. However, many of those people are pushing back saying county forest roads, by definition, are public, county-owned roads, and therefore the county should assume winter maintenance responsibilities. Linda Krzewina maintains that seeking a private company to plow is not only inconvenient and costly to residents, it’s also illegal.
“I talked to my insurance company right up to the corporate office. They do not cover illegal acts. It is illegal for a private citizen to plow public roads, simple as that. They told me that if I plow that and endanger anybody, I could be sued for everything I own and in return, I would definitely turn around and sue the county because it’s their obligation to plow the road that tax payers live on year-round.”
It’s not currently in the County’s policy to provide winter maintenance on forest roads and last month Marinette County Corporation Counsel Gail Mattison was asked to weigh in on the matter. County Administrator John Lefebvre informed the Infrastructure Committee Wednesday he received her written legal opinion and it states the County cannot be held liable for choosing not to plow county forest roads.
“‘After researching the issue, discussions with the DOT, and our insurance carrier’ and this is her (Mattison) talking, not me, ‘it is my opinion the County has no obligation to plow county forest roads. There are certain requirement for county forest road eligibility for state aids, however, how each county maintains its own roads is left up to the county to determine.'”
No action was taken on the topic yesterday, but the Infrastructure Committee scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday to discuss the matter again and explore alternative solutions for the affected residents.

Sheriff Reminding People to Check on Those Living Alone this Winter

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12/12/2019- It’s not officially Winter for more than a week yet, but recent cold temps have already proven deadly for some at-risk residents. Marinette County Sherriff Jerry Sauve reports his department and the medical examiner’s office have investigated multiple weather-related deaths this season. Sauve says some of the victims did not have power in their homes at the time, while others were outside and exposed to the elements when they died. He’s now urging residents to remember to check in on their loved ones or neighbors who may live alone this winter, especially during extended cold snaps or major snow events.

County Administrator’s Suggestions for Tourism, Economic Development Meet Mixed Reactions

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12/11/2019- Marinette County has yet to nail down any specific pathways to broaden both marketing and economic development efforts, but talks continue. County Administrator John Lefebvre brought a pair of recommendations on these issues to the Development Committee Tuesday. The first would create a Program Assistant position within the Facilities and Parks Department to specifically assist in the marketing and development of County-owned assets, while the County Administrator’s Office would then also coordinate with regional partners on overall promotion of Marinette County. While some supervisors questioned whether having a singular location for all tourism-related information might be more convenient for visitors, Lefebvre says it hasn’t been effective in the past.
“We can’t seem to get over the hump to find one entity to do one thing for everybody. All of the entities that deal with tourism all have to cooperate. We’ve tried this before- having a tourism person in the county- and we haven’t been successful in bringing everybody under the umbrella to agree ‘this is how we’re going to do tourism.'”
On the community/economic development side of things, Lefebvre proposed contracting out these services to allow the county to select from a multitude of entities with the expertise necessary to complete a wide range of projects. However, the committee expressed they want to see the management of these contracts done in-house by a new Community/Economic Development Coordinator. County Board Chairman Mark Anderson says it’s about establishing a relationship between the County and individual communities and businesses.
“I believe the staff member- a person working for Marinette County- has got to be the answer. Relationships in this field are probably the number one thing. If we would have done something a year ago, the relationships would have already been built with the communities, the businesses. Now if we go out with consultants we’ve got 5, 6, 3, 2, how many different consultants, no relationships are being built and we’re wasting another year before anything gets done.”
The Committee ultimately approved Lefebvre’s proposal for a new Program Assistant for marketing and forwarded that item on to the Infrastructure Committee. They also asked Lefebvre to create a job description for a Community/Economic Development Coordinator and bring that, along with related costs, back to the Development Committee for consideration in January.

Sanctuary County Resolution Introduced at Committee Level

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12/11/2019- Florence County was first, but Marinette County could be next in line to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary County in Wisconsin. The Public Services Committee was asked to consider a resolution Tuesday opposing the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. Supervisor John Guarisco introduced the matter and says it’s a proactive measure that would send a message to lawmakers in Madison and beyond that firearm ownership is part of the way of life here in Marinette County and residents aren’t willing for forfeit that.
“I am not a big believer in sanctuary cities or sanctuary anything. I understand that the laws that are passed on the higher levels are for everybody. However, this resolution is simply something addressing, in my opinion, Madison, telling them that we do rely a lot on firearms up in Marinette County- that’s it’s part of livelihood and part of our tradition and heritage. It’s something that I’d like to see us pass simply because I believe our constituents would want us to pass it.”
Still, with no pending legislation to restrict the private possession of ammunition or firearms on the table, some committee members, including Supervisor Glen Broderick, felt the resolution was premature.
“I don’t really think this is a good idea. We have a system of government to determine whether laws are constitutional or not… and I think by passing this resolution it would make Marinette County seem like a rogue county and I don’t think we need to do that.”
Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve is indifferent on the matter and says a formal resolution is not necessary for his department to exercise sound discretion when it comes to enforcing any law. The committee agreed to postpone any action on the resolution and will take up the topic again at their meeting next month.

Woman Who Pushed Two Students to Safety Nominated for America’s Favorite Crossing Guard

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A Peshtigo School crossing guard is part of a nationwide contest to name America’s favorite crossing guard. 82-year-old Gail Bantes was nominated by the Safe Kids Marinette County Coalition for dedicating her life to her community and the safety of children. She was a bus driver for 43 years before eventually becoming a crossing guard for the City of Peshtigo. In February of 2019, Bantes was struck by a vehicle while on duty and while she sustained injuries from the incident, she’s also credited with saving two children by pushing them out of the way before being hit herself. Residents can vote for Bantes on the Safe Kids Worldwide website through tomorrow. The top five crossing guards across the United States with the highest number of votes will be judged by a panel to determine the final winner of the contest. The winning crossing guard will receive $500 worth of new crossing guard gear and accessories.

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