District Attorney Office Is Finally Fully StaffedIssue Date: August 2, 2018
"For the first time in many years, as of Tuesday, May 29, our office is fully staffed," District Attorney De Shea Morrow happily reported to Marinette County Board on Tuesday, July 31. She said the 400 case backlog she inherited has finally stopped growing and they may soon begin catching up.
Tessa Button, the third attorney for the office, started working for Morrow on July 29, with benefits and .6 of her salary provided by the state. In addition, the District Attorney office staff now includes Morrow, full time Assistant DA Cody Marschall, Victim Witness Coordinator Mary Falkenberg, two legal secretaries and an administrative assistant.
Morrow said her annual report was intended to let County Board know, "What we are, who we are, and what we've been doing." She said their main purpose is to do justice and assist law enforcement. They also provide input and assistance to crime victims.
She said her office provides assistance and advice to law enforcement officers on a 24/7 basis, helping obtain search warrants, subpoenas, etc. They handle cases ranging from fishing violations to major murder cases, and also handle Child In Need of Protective Services cases.
In 2015, the last time the office was fully staffed, they handled 213 felonies, 149 misdemeanors, 235 criminal traffic violations, 38 CHIPS cases, 50 juvenile delinquencies, 256 traffic forfeitures, and 110 non traffic forfeitures.
She said when it comes to scheduling charges and court proceedings, "Protection of the community is always paramount!"
Morrow's report came near the start of the monthly board meeting which also featured reports by County Administrator John LeFebvre, Information Services Administrator Kevin Solway, Veterans Service Officer Tom Doyle, and a written report from long-time Coroner George Smith.
Without dissent the board approved officially changing the name of the UW-Marinette to to UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus, since it is now officially one of the former UW Colleges that are joined as UW-Green Bay. The other affiliated campuses in addition to Marinette and the main school in Green Bay are the former UW-Manitowoc and UW-Sheboygan. Supervisors were optimistic the change will usher in a new era of educational growth for the area. Ben Joniaux, Chief of Staff for UWGB Chancellor Gary Miller, thanked the board's Executive Committee for supporting the name change, and explained to supervisors that staff and management at all four campuses are now one entity operating at four locations. He said the process of change started last year, and will take another year to fully complete.
To questions from supervisors, Joniaux said the three branch campuses, including Marinette, will keep their sports teams, colors and mascot, but the branch campus teams will be club teams with athletic directors answering to the Division of Student Life at the main campus in Green Bay. The UW-Green Bay teams compete in NCAA Division I.
To questions from Supervisor Don Pazynski, Joniaux said the newly reorganized UW-Green Bay will maintain its unique relationship with NWTC, and in fact they are hoping to work even more closely together to avoid unnecessary competition and duplication of services. Joniaux suggested the relationship between UWGB and NWTC should be nationally recognized because of their unique close partnership.
Supervisor Ted Sauve asked if the Board of Visitors will be revived, and Joniaux said they will likely set up local committees because of their desire to get community input and work with local governments.
Supervisor Mike Behnke expressed concern that course offerings at Marinette could be reduced, and the campus eventually phased out. Joniaux assured him that is not the plan, and that they will work with the local communities. Any credits earned at the Marinette campus are automatically credits at the UW-Green Bay, but students going to Madison would need to transfer credits.
In other action, County Board approved LeFebvre's appointment of Public Health Officer Molly Bonjean to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and Lindsay Callow to Marinette County Tourism Alliance as the representative recommended by Peshtigo Chamber of Commerce. That group will officially meet Melissa Ebsch, the new Marinette County/City of Marinette Tourism and Marketing Director, at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 8.
During time for public comment, Alexis Witak, 15, Marinette County 4-H Queen for 2017-2018, was introduced to the board and talked to them about what being a 4-H member has meant to her. She has been involved with 4-H since she was four years old, and declared, "If it had not been for 4-H I would probably not have the courage to be standing in front of you talking today."
Alexis, daughter of Grover Town Clerk Lisa Witak and Granddaughter of Sally Witak, said she ran for 4-H Queen because of her love for the organization and her desire to share the message that 4-H "is so much more than showing animals at the Fair."
She said members often do that, but they also learn to work with adults, have countless opportunities to learn new skills, go to new places, and meet new friends that will last a lifetime. They do volunteer work, for example at the 4-H food stand at the fair, and assist other organizations when asked as a service to the community.
"Our 4-H couldn't exist without UWEX," Witak declared. She loves the 4-H camp at Camp Bird, and all the friendly competition 4-H offers in various endeavors.
She said she had some amazing opportunities this year, including a stay at Space Camp at the National Space Center in Alabama, touring the east coast learning United States History, attending leadership forums, and more.
Supervisor Tom Mailand said he was recently at a home where there were 4-H ribbons from 1946 laid out on a table, to be made into a collage or passed on to family members. The commented that the fact those medals had been saved for 70 years showed how much they meant to the person who won them.
Sheriff Jerry Sauve told the board what an honor it had been to have the head FBI agents from Wisconsin and Michigan come to Marinette County to present awards to Sheriff's Department officers and members of Marinette City Police for capturing "a real desperado," who had escaped from them in Milwaukee, and robbed a bank in Michigan before being apprehended in Marinette.
Recommendation of the Infrastructure Committee to hold its meetings on Wednesdays was approved, but at the urging of LeFebvre, its recommendation to hold those meetings at the Highway, Forestry and Parks Department headquarters in Peshtigo rather than at the courthouse was referred back to committee. LeFebvre said he had some other plans for the meeting room at Peshtigo that he would explain to the committee when it meets on Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Committee Chair Al Mans, contrary to the vote of his committee at its last meeting, had moved to have the action referred back rather than approved. Voting against that motion were supervisors Shirley Kaufman, David Zahn and Mike Behnke. LeFebvre and County Board Chair Mark Anderson have resisted attempts to move committee meetings out of the courthouse and back to the headquarters of the departments they supervise, which had been the case until the reorganization in April.
Supervisors had been advised by Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison that they could hold a committee meeting elsewhere on a one-time basis but could not permanently change their regular meeting site without changing the board's rules of order ordinance.
However, Zahn, reading from the meeting agenda, noted the existing ordinance states committees can select their meeting locations. He was told by Mattison and Anderson that was meant to be on a one-time basis, not for the regular on-going meeting location.
When Zahn repeated that was not what the ordinance said, and read it verbatim, Mattison offered to "clean it up for the next meeting."
Kaufman voiced strong displeasure for the way the matter was handled including Mans' decision not to inform the rest of the committee of his decision to support an action contrary to their recommendation. She said he could have called a special meeting just before the board session to bring them up to speed. Neither Mans nor LeFebvre would expand on what the plan was that LeFebvre had in mind.
By a 28 to 1 margin, with Anderson casting the sole dissenting vote, the board also agreed to continue county membership in the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission, as recommended by the Executive Committee.
In other action the board:
*Approved an addendum to the Ayres Associates agreement for Courthouse tower structural analysis services, at an additional cost not to exceed $5,350, agreement total cost not to exceed $16,350, subject to Corporation Counsel's approval;
*Approved agreement with PRT for purchase of 124,000 red pine seedlings totaling $19,678.80;
*Approved transfer of $3,708 from Highway Enterprise Fund balance to Radio Equipment Maintenance for the purchase of four XPR5550 VHF 45 Watt Mobile Radios;
*Approved entering in to an agreement with Aramark for Inmate Food Services at the Marinette County Jail beginning January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2022, with pricing schedule based on meals per day;
*Approved the Wisconsin/Michigan Border County Mutual Aid Agreement for Public Health Emergency Response and Recovery;
*Approve the State/County pass through agreement for permanent fencing with Swanson Evergreen Farm paying 25% of the total cost estimated at $45,000; and
*Approved the Town of Niagara's revised Zoning Map as approved by the Town of Niagara on June 19, 2018.
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