County Board Asks Administrator to Create New Tourism, Economic Development Positions

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01/15/2020- The majority of the Marinette County Board says when it comes to the administration of economic development and tourism promotion, they want the job done in-house. The Board was first asked Tuesday to consider directing the County’s Development Committee and County Administrator to create a new community development position. For months supervisors have gone back and forth whether to establish an internal development role or contract those services out to another agency and while proponents of the in-house option feel it will provide more transparency and a better relationship, Supervisor Ginger Deschane says they’ll be starting from scratch and duplicating services that already exist locally.
Following their discussion on development, the Board turned their attention to tourism. The County has already begun an effort to create a program assistant in the Facilities and Parks Department to promote and develop county-owned assets, but some municipalities, including the City of Marinette, have come out saying that heavily favors the northern part of the County. That program assistant could work with cities and towns on specific promotion projects as requested, but Supervisor Bonnie Popp says she wants to see the County bring a Tourism Director on board who will market the county as a whole.
The Board tasked the County Administrator and the Development Committee with crafting job descriptions and identifying funding sources for both the Community Development and Tourism Director positions. Each will still require final approval from the Committee and the full County Board.

PFAS Detected in Another Private Well Near Marinette

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01/14/2020- The Wisconsin DNR is stepping in to provide emergency drinking water to a homeowner near Marinette after testing by the owner showed the presence of PFAS in their private well. This property is located near the ongoing groundwater study area for PFAS contamination caused by the manufacturing, test, and disposal of firefighting foam by Tyco. The DNR first offered Tyco the opportunity to resample the homeowner’s well and provide emergency water. After the company declined that offer, the DNR began to work with the resident to provide alternative drinking water and re-sample the well to validate the results. The DNR will now re-assess the groundwater contamination study area boundaries and Tyco’s site investigation plan based on this new information. Residents are reminded the DNR has scheduled a series of listening sessions about PFAS contamination in the Marinette-Peshtigo area. The next session is scheduled for tomorrow at noon and 6 p.m. at Marinette’s Community REC Center.

NEWCAP Housing Rehab Project Proposed to County Committee

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01/14/2020- One of the biggest challenges identified in broadening economic and community development is a lack of affordable housing in Marinette County and a new partnership between the County and NEWCAP is looking to address that. The two entities are in discussion about establishing a revolving loan fund to rehabilitate and resell properties throughout the County. County Administrator John Lefebvre says the project would initially target homes the county acquires through tax delinquency, both reducing blight and increasing the local housing stock.
NEWCAP is seeking$500000 to $1-million to start in the revolving loan fund- money which Lefebvre says could come from the county’s exiting fund balance.
The Administrative Committee authorized Lefebvre to compile the necessary documentation to formally create the housing rehab partnership between the County and NEWCAP and bring it back to them for consideration.

Snowmobile Trails Extended into City of Marinette

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01/14/2020- Snowmobilers will soon have increased access to the City of Marinette. Last week Common Council approved the extension of a pair of snowmobile trails into the city. The first trail previously ended near the city limits along Mary Street, but will now continue into the city and split off in two different directions, while the other trail, which runs behind the UW Fieldhouse will be extended all the way to the Bay. Proponents of the plan say it will draw more riders in to the city and offer them the opportunity to check out local stores, restaurants, and hotels, upping revenue in what is typically a slow time of year in terms of tourism.

CoVantage Credit Union Fundraiser Supports Menominee Opera House

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01/14/2020- A local call to give back the community nets more than $10000 in donations for the Menominee Opera House. As part of their Giving Tuesday fundraising effort, Menominee’s CoVantage Credit Union branch collected donations from their members, staff, and residents for the preservation and restoration of the historic opera house- funds which were matched by the CoVantage Cares Foundation. In all, the foundation announced that checks totaling over $382000 were presented to non-profit organizations throughout the communities where CoVantage Credit Union has branches.

Lavigne Sentenced for Sexual Assault

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01/13/2020- A former Little Chute teacher will spend an additional five years in prison following his sentencing in Marinette County Court Friday. In September a jury found 47 year old Jason Lavigne of Appleton guilty of 3rd degree sexual assault for forcing a 16-year-old girl to have sex with him during a trip to the Town of Stephenson in 2018. Judge James Morrison handed down the sentence, which includes 5 years of extended supervision after the prison term. The sentence will run consecutive to a 5 year sentence he received last year in Outagamie County for a sexual assault of the same child conviction. He will serve a total of 10 years in prison and 16 years of extended supervision between the two sentences.

As Water Levels Continue to Rise, DNR Offers Quicker Permitting Process to Help Stop Erosion

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01/13/2020- It’s been a hard year for property owners along the bay and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Crystal von Holdt, Water Management Specialist with the Wisconsin DNR says water levels in Lake Michigan have gone from record-lows in 2013 to near historic highs in just six years and the frequency of storm events are only adding to the concerns and damage that come with this rapid increase. That’s why the DNR has rolled out a self-certification options for landowners looking to protect their coastal shoreline which will expedite the permitting process and allow residents to prevent further erosion. von Holdt says now, it’s a simple as filling out a one-page form before installing riprap or other protective barriers.
von Holdt says once the emergency shoreline project is complete, landowners will still have to apply for their permanent permit. More information can be found by visiting the Wisconsin DNR’s website and searching “water permits.”

County, City Races Set

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01/13/2020- There will be a number of contested races in the City and County of Marinette in this spring’s election. On the Marinette County Board, Allen Roger is challenging incumbent Gilbert Engel in District 1, Thomas Buelteman and incumbent Laura Frea will face off in District 14, in District 16 it’s Connie Seefeldt versus Brian Tonn, incumbent Shirley Kaufman is up against Ken Holdorf for the District 26 seat, and Andrea Rich is running against incumbent Tom Mailand in District 28. Additionally, a primary will be held for the District 21 seat where Rebecca DeMarce, Karl Jaeger, and Jim Wortner have all filed their candidacy. In the City, Ward 3 Alderperson John Marx is being challenged by Doug Oitzinger and voters will decide between John LaCourt or current Ward 6 Alderperson Peter Noppenburg for the municipal judge seat. The spring election is set for April 7th.

City Eyes Former BAMC for Municipal Needs

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01/13/2020- Marinette is working to identify new options when it comes to relocating some municipal facilities. Common Council approved an agreement with Ayres Associates last week for Planning Grant Writing Services to secure funds to assess the feasibility of relocating City Hall and City Services to the former Bay Area Medical Center hospital building on Shore Drive. That planning process would address the possible impacts to downtown economic development, explore the necessity of relocation due to City Hall’s current aging infrastructure, and provide a space needs analysis for relocation into the former BAMC facility. That plan would also evaluate potential resale and economic value for the redevelopment of the existing City Hall. But, Alderperson Rick Polzin doesn’t think this move is the right one for the city.
The grant writing services came with a $5000 price tag. Common Council passed the grant writing agreement on a 7-1 vote.

County Still Not Committed to Internal vs External Economic Development

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Marinette County is keeping all its options on the table when it comes to community and economic development. The Development Committee previously asked County Administrator John Lefebvre to create a draft job description and budget impact statement for a new community and economic development coordinator position within the county, which Lefebvre delivered to the committee at their meeting this week. That position would be responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing programs promoting local development by working closely with businesses, municipalities, and organizations and would run the county up to $100000 annually. However, when asked, Lefebvre told the committee that although he’s willing to abide by their wishes, he’s personally still not in favor of this work being done in-house.
Representatives of inVenture North spoke prior to the committee’s discussion on the topic and said they are poised and ready to take on the county’s economic and community development needs. But County Board Chairman Mark Anderson says contracting with an outside agency won’t offer the same type of relationship and transparency that will be garnered by housing the position within the courthouse.
The Committee requested Lefebvre continue exploring both the internal and contracted execution of economic and community development by firming up the in-house job description and developing a cost analysis of external contracts versus the internal position.

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