O’Neill Announces Candidacy in Peshtigo Mayoral Race

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12/31/2019- A local business owner with a background in law enforcement has stepped forward as a candidate in Peshtigo’s mayoral race. Tony O’Neill announced his candidacy last week and says he’s seeking to bring growth, transparency, and new opportunities for business, education, and civic partnerships to the community. O’Neill served in the U.S. Coast Guard and worked for the Marinette County Sheriff’s Office for more than two decades. He’s currently a licensed drone pilot and owner of AerialPicPro and is involved in the training of law enforcement and other emergency response personnel in the use of drones in public safety. He’s also the President of the Peshtigo Area Chamber of Commerce. Voters will decide on Peshtigo’s next mayor on April 7th.

Unemployment Edges Up in Marinette County

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12/31/2019-Marinette County saw a slight bump in unemployment last month. The local jobless rate for November came in at 4.1%, up from the 3.8% recorded in October, and a full percentage point higher than the 3.1% unemployment rate in the county in November of 2018. The seasonally unadjusted jobless rate across Wisconsin last month was at 2.9%, just above October’s 2.8%, while unemployment in the state this time last year was at 2.5%.

Aquila Reps Give Back Forty Status Update to Menominee County Board

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12/24/2019- Aquila Resources is bringing a few new bargaining chips to the table as they attempt to secure some county-owned property for access to their proposed Back Forty Mine and ease some of the public concerns surrounding the project. Chantae Lassard with Aquila delivered a status update to the Menominee County Board of Commissioners Monday. She says their latest major push is a proposal to the Menominee County Road Commission to temporarily abandon portions of River Road and create a new East entrance to the mine site. In return, the company is willing to pay the Road Commission’s mineral royalties up front, install helipads for emergency service access, and Lassard says, the agreement offers several other community benefits, as well.
Residents have been loud and clear about their distrust of Aquila self-monitoring for pollution and spills from the proposed zinc and gold mine. To solve this, Lassard says a third-party monitoring system could be put in place modeling what was done at Marquette County’s Eagle Mine, with the Menominee County Board ultimately selecting that monitoring company.
A public hearing on the request to abandon River Road is scheduled for March 24th, though the location is still being determined. Aquila has been issued three conditional permits for the Back Forty Mine, while the wetlands permit is being contested in court and a new dam safety permit application is expected to be submitted early next year.

Menominee County 911 Director Resigns

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12/24/2019- Menominee County’s 911 Director is stepping down. Brian Barrette tendered his resignation last week as he plans to pursue a new career opportunity with Marinette County. Barrette’s last day with Menominee County will be January 7th. Assistant Director Andrew Primeaux will then step in as interim Director as the County works to find a permanent successor. Those interested in the position are encouraged to monitor the career opportunities section of the Menominee County website for the job posting in the near future.

Burden of Binge Drinking Shows Economic and Social Cost of Excessive Alcohol Use

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12/24/2019- A report by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute shows binge drinkers in Marinette County have, on average, more than five episodes of binge drinking monthly. The Burden of Binge Drinking report dives into the economic cost of excessive alcohol consumption, including negative health and social consequences. Locally, there’s a 24% binge drinking rate- that’s the same as the statewide average, but well above the US average of 16%. And, Molly Bonjean, Marinette County Health Officer says those local figures are on the rise.
There are several factors contributing to the high binge drinking numbers in Marinette County and Bonjean says excessive alcohol use has been identified as one of Marinette County Public Health’s top priorities to address.
In Marinette County, excessive alcohol use contributes to an average of 18 alcohol related deaths, 422 hospitalizations, and 49 car crashes annually. Binge drinking is responsible for 76% of the total economic cost of excessive alcohol consumption, the burden of which is carried by the government and, in turn, by the taxpayers

Marinette High Schooler to Take Part in Student Senate Program

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12/24/2019- A local student is among high school juniors and seniors from around the state who will participate in a week-long intensive program at the Wisconsin State Capitol. State Senator Dave Hansen announced that Samuel Drees of Marinette High School has been chosen to participate in the 2020 Senate Scholar Program. The Senate Scholar Program introduces students to many facets of the legislative process, including offering a chance to meet with legislative staff and support agencies, the Governor’s staff, a Supreme Court Justice, and legislative lobbyists. The students then have a unique opportunity to put their knowledge into action. When the Senate is on the floor, Scholars staff the session under the direction of the Senate Sergeant at Arms’ office. The week’s events then culminate in a Senate Scholar committee hearing on a bill that the students themselves have drafted.

Contract awarded to Lockheed Martin for Saudi Ships

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12/23/2019- The US Navy announced Friday that Lockheed Martin has been awarded an almost- $2-billion contract to build four multi-mission surface combatants for Saudi Arabia, according to Defense News. Those ships will be built at Fincantieri Marinette Marine and are derived from the Freedom-class littoral combat ship design built there. The contract was awarded as part of the Navy’s Foreign Military Sales program. It follows a 2018 $450-million contract for design and long-lead time materials for the frigates. Deliveries of the MMSC are expected to begin in June of 2023. Selling the MMSC to the Saudis will be a net positive for the Navy and should have minimal impact on Marinette Marine’s LCS production.

Menominee Looks at Road Project Funding Shortfall

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12/23/2019- The Menominee Water and Wastewater utility board was told the City will need to find an additional $679,000 to fund planned road projects slated for 2021 that require water and sewer replacement underneath the road. According to Coleman Engineering, which has been working with the City on planning the road projects funded by a road millage, after work is done on streets that do not require utility work next year, there will be about $2.2 million dollars left for the 2021 projects on portions of 13th, 15th, 16th, and 17th Avenues. But the estimated cost of the road work is about $2.9 million dollars. That figure does not include $2.8 million dollars for the water and sewer work. The city plans to borrow for that work, with the average utility bill rising about $9 per quarter to cover that borrowing. The question is whether to cover the excess road construction out of water and sewer rates, or have the city bond for the road costs, which would be paid by property taxes. City manager Tony Graff says he will have additional information and a staff recommendation when the Utility Board meets in January.

District Still Considering Options for Right-Sizing

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12/23/19- With more than 2000 students impacted, the decision to right-size the Marinette School District has to be a community one. That’s the message from administration as they continue to work though the feedback received at a pair of listening sessions held in September on the proposal to consolidate one, two, or three of the district’s existing facilities. Superintendent Dr. Wendy Dzurick says the need to right-size stems from declining enrollment, which leads to a reduction in state funding and facilities operating well under optimal capacity. She says while the results from the listening sessions are still being compiled for review, the consensus is that something should be done, even if there’s hesitancy about the execution.
While an advisory group has recommended the three-building configuration, closing the Garfield, Merryman, and Sunrise locations, Dr. Dzurick says a final decision by the entire school board isn’t expected until this summer.
Residents are encouraged to watch for and fill out the upcoming community survey that will be mailed to them on the proposed right-sizing project. If the district ultimately does decide to close any of their facilities, that transition isn’t expected to take place until the 2021-2022 academic year.

City Offices Closed for Christmas & New Year

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12/23/2019- Residents on both sides of the river will need to keep some City facility closures in mind as we head into the holidays. Menominee City offices and the Marinette Clerk’s Office will be closed tomorrow and Wednesday, as well as December 31st, and January 1st in observance of the Christmas and New Year Holidays. Additionally, trash pickup in both cities that’s normally on Wednesday will be picked up on Thursday, Thursday’s route will be picked up on Friday, and Friday’s route will be picked up on Saturday this week and next.

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