Public Health Warning Residents About Potential for Increased Spread of COVID-19 Over Holiday Weekend

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07/03/2020- Public Health agencies on both sides of the border are urging residents to keep celebrations close to home this holiday weekend. Public Health Delta and Menominee Counties is reminding residents to keep Independence Day gatherings small, gather outside, wash hands frequently, practice social distancing, wear face coverings, and ask everyone to bring their own food or drinks instead of sharing these items. Officials say COVID-19 is still present in the community and continuing to follow these and other safety guidelines could help slow the spread of the virus. The Marinette County Public Health Office is echoing the message put out by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which also recommends residents stay home and follow best public health practices during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. Wisconsin has seen a recent surge in cases with half of all positive cases coming within the past five weeks and nearly 20% of total COVID-19 cases in the state testing positive within the past two weeks. This spike in cases is driven in part by an increase in infections among younger people, and contact tracing by some local health departments has revealed that many of these cases can be traced to bars.

Back 2 School Supply Drive Will Be Held Online in 2020

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07/03/2020- An annual community drive to help families in need get their kids ready for school will look a little bit different this year. The Back 2 School Bash hosted by the local St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, and Menominee County Health and Human Service has gone virtual in 2020, offering a contactless way to support students while preventing the spread of COVID-19. Jeanne Harper with the St. Joseph Conference of St. Vincent de Paul says residents can now go online to make donations to purchase pre-filled backpacks to prepare kids for the upcoming academic year, regardless of whether that learning takes place in the classroom or from home.

Backpacks sell for $25 for students in Headstart through elementary school and $30 for middle and high schoolers. Harper says the supplies will then be distributed via drive-up system on August 13th at InVenture North in Marinette where students will also receive a gift card to purchase new clothes and shoes for school.

The three partnering agencies anticipate serving more than 600 students from Marinette and Menominee Counties this year. To make a donation, click here.

Delta, Dickinson County Airports to See Funding for PFAS Testing

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07/03/2020- Two airports in our region of the UP will see state aid to test for the presence of PFAS. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team announced it has awarded approximately $2.5 million in grant funding to municipal airport operators to support monitoring and testing for PFAS. Included are Delta County Airport, who will receive more than $235000 and Ford/Dickinson County Airport, who was granted $250000. The grant recipients were current or former Part 139 commercial service airports in Michigan that have used or are suspected to have used Class B AFFF firefighting foam to comply with FAA requirements. Michigan Department of Transportation is overseeing the grant program and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy is providing technical assistance.

‘Operation Dry Water’ Takes Place this Holiday Weekend

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07/02/2020- You know not to drink and drive, but the Wisconsin DNR is reminding people this holiday weekend that operating a boat while intoxicated is also illegal and just as dangerous. Those out enjoying Wisconsin’s waters during the Fourth of July weekend will see more state conservation wardens and local boat patrols spreading education and enforcing the state’s safe boating laws as part of the annual national Operation Dry Water. This awareness and enforcement campaign aims to educate boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. A boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and deadlier for both passengers and boat operators. In 2019, Wisconsin DNR officers issued 202 boating citations and removed 25 impaired boaters from the water. Last year saw 82 reportable boat incidents, 50 people injured and nine fatalities.

U.P. State Fair Canceled

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07/02/2020- More bad news for prospective fair-goers in the Upper Peninsula: organizers of the U.P. State Fair have announced the 2020 event will not take place this year and has instead been postponed until 2021. Legislators and local governments, including the Menominee County Board of Commissioners, were pushing for the approval of a safety plan which might allow the popular summer event to proceed. However, U.P. State Fair Authority says at the heart of the decision was the State of Michigan’s current crowd size restrictions that would vastly limit the Authority’s ability to provide the same familiar experience that fair goers are used to. Skerbeck Entertainment Group, the fair’s carnival and midway operator, was also notified by the licensing agency that most amusement devices are not permitted to operate at this time. The U.P. State Fair had been scheduled to run August 17th through the 23rd.

Marinette Receives Major Grant for Comprehensive Plan Update

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07/02/2020- Marinette is among several coastal communities in Wisconsin receiving a share of $1.5-million in grant funding through the Department of Administrations Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. The Program aims to protect and improve the Great Lakes resources across Wisconsin’s coastal communities. The 39 grants awarded this year will be used by grantees to assist with projects totaling over $3.4 million. Included on that project list is more than $20000 for a comprehensive plan update for the City of Marinette, which Mayor Steve Genisot says will feature an increased emphasis on water levels, sustainability, and further development of the waterfront and downtown areas.
Gensiot says another major consideration in the City’s comprehensive plan update will be where to incorporate additional housing opportunities the community will undoubtedly need in the wake of Marinette Marine’s planned expansion.
The total cost of Marinette’s comprehensive plan update is around $45000.

Menominee Man Arrested for Child Sexually Abusive Material

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07/01/2020- A Menominee man is facing criminal charges following an investigation by the Michigan State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 24-year-old Nicholas Barstow was arrested Monday and arraigned yesterday in Menominee County District Court on multiple counts of child sexually abusive activity, and using a computer to commit a crime. The investigation into Barstow’s alleged activity came after a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led authorities to Barstow’s Menominee residence where a search warrant of the home netted multiple internet capable devices containing evidence. Barstow’s bond has been set at 25-thousand dollars. If convicted on all charges, Barstow could face up to nearly eight decades behind bars.

Status Conference Held in McClintock Park Double Murder Case

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07/01/2020- Evaluation of and treatment for the competency of the 83-year-old Oconto County man accused of killing an engaged couple in Marinette County continues following the court mandate made earlier this year. In March Raymand Vannieuwenhoven was determined to not currently be mentally fit to stand trial for the 1976 murders of Ellen Matheys and David Schuldes in McClintock Park. At that competency hearing, Dr. Steven Benson testified that Vannieuwenhoven was suffering from paranoid preoccupations and other deficits as the residual effects of a stroke and could not, at the time, aid in his own defense. A status conference was held in the matter last week which included consideration of a report from Mendota Mental Health Institute as to whether Vannieuwenhoven will eventually regain competency. Another status conference has been scheduled for September 14th and a follow-up competency hearing will be set after that.

Board Pushes for Cost of Living Increase for County Employees

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07/01/2020- By an overwhelming margin, Marinette County’s Board of Supervisors supports a cost of living adjustment to county employees in 2021 despite the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. The Administrative Committee forwarded the topic on to the full county board with no recommendation as to whether or not to grant a cost of living increase in the upcoming budget as well as advance all employees rated below market level one step. That cost of living adjustment is typically based on the previous two years’ Consumer Price Index, which County Administrator John Lefebvre says has fallen considerably over the past few months. Lefebvre suggested withholding the cost of living increase for county staff in the upcoming year in the wake of nationwide economic fallout, but County Board Chairman John Guarisco is in favor of the adjustment, saying if the County’s going to spend money on anything, it should be their employees.
However, Supervisor Rick Polzin opposes the increase. He says it’s not about proving whether or not the County values their employees, but rather, about taking a conservative approach to budgeting amidst so many unknowns.
Ultimately the board voted 23 to 5 with one abstention to approve the 2021 wage package with both the step advancement for those below market and a 1.35% cost of living adjustment. The County’s psychiatrist is not included in the overall wage plan and the board also approved a 2.3% cost of living increase for that individual in accordance with the County’s policy. In total, Marinette County will spend about an additional $557000 on wages in 2021.

Wells State Park Among Others in Michigan Offering Fireworks Free Fourth

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07/01/2020- They served to protect the freedoms we celebrate, but the Fourth of July can be a difficult time for past and present military service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. For many of these people, large and spontaneous fireworks displays can trigger the fight or flight responses sometimes associated with PTSD, which is why the Michigan DNR is once again promoting Fireworks Free Fourth celebrations across the state. One such event is at Wells State Park in Menominee County where guests can enjoy the holiday away from crowds and loud noises. DNR reps say Fireworks Free Fourth locations are also a good alternative for pet owners or parents of small children who want to steer clear of traditional fireworks displays. You can find a complete list of these sites on the Michigan DNR website.

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