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County HHS Committee Remembers Kathy Just

On Wednesday, Jan. 11 the Marinette County Health and Human Services Committee held its first meeting without Committee Chair and County Board Vice Chair Kathy Just, who passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, Jan. 7 at age 84. Funeral services were scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14.

Committee members paid tribute to Just, who chaired the committee for 18 years, and talked of her importance to both Marinette County and each of them.

Health and Human Services Director Robin Elsner announced potential plans to rename basement conference room B129, the room which houses all of the committee's meetings, in honor of Just. "She was a great ambassador for the department," Elsner declared.

Committee member Paul Gustafson noted that he had lunch with Just after every board meeting since he joined the committee 12 years ago. "I'm going to miss her," he said. "I'm going to miss her cookies too," he said in reference to the baked goods Just would bring to every meeting. At one of the meetings she had even offered treats to the new Peshtigo Times reporter in attendance, who was in his first week on the job.

"I came on 11 years ago and I didn't know anything, but she made me feel really welcome," new committee chair Al Sauld said, calling Just a "good friend." Sauld had been vice chair, and now is chair. A new committee member will need to be approved, and a new vice chair will need to be elected for the committee. There will be a County Board vote to decide who will become the new County Board vice chair.

In other business, the committee approved changing the pay grade of the department's limited term employee (LTE) care workers from pay grade 16 to 17, effective Jan. 29, 2017. They are currently paid 75 percent of the amount paid to the 11 part-time workers. The part-time workers will now make between $12.73 and 15.91 an hour, moving the LTE pay to $11 an hour from $10.27. The new pay period begins on Jan. 29, which is why the change will take place then.

"That way we're going to compete with the other support and home care personal care agencies in the community," Elsner said, noting that only 48 of the 89 positions approved by the county board and state contract are filled due to the large amount of turnover caused by LTE pay being too low.

Gustafson asked if this would have any bearing on the new wage study the county is having done. "I guess if you can't retain or hire people, you've effectively done your own wage study," Sauld commented.

An update was provided on the Northeastern Wisconsin Family Care implementation process. The current waitlist number is currently 99, with 55 actively waiting to be put into the new system, the committee was told.


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