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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Executive Committee Rejects Committee Restructure

The Marinette County Executive Committee tackled three big topics at its meeting Wednesday, Aug. 2.

On the agenda for action were a resolution about the proposed Back Forty Mine, potential restructuring of the county committees and approving Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison getting involved in the potential sex offender placement in Pound.

The committee narrowly rejected a motion to move the restructuring of the committees to the full County Board. The official agenda item was to authorize the committee to proceed with drafting a restructuring plan of standing committees, duties of committees, per diems, salary and reimbursable expenses to be adopted by the full County Board.

With committee member Mike Behnke excused, the 11-person committee voted 6-5 in opposition to the motion to send the topic to the full board, which could have created a new system or kept things the same.

County Board Chair Anderson brought the idea to the committee after speaking to La Crosse County Administrator Steve O'Malley, who is also a former Marinette County administrator.

La Crosse County recently reduced their number of standing committees to six. Marinette County currently has 10 standing committees.

Reducing the amount of committees would have allowed County Administrator John Lefebvre to attend more meetings.

Anderson said in speaking with former Administrator Shawn Henessee, he concluded "it's just impossible. You're running to committee meetings constantly and it just seems like it's just an over-burden of committees."

He continued to say, "If you're going to hire an administrator, allow the administrator to run the county and don't try to micro-manage as much."

Voting to approve moving the idea along were Anderson, Ken Keller, Al Sauld, Vilas Schroeder and Cheryl Wruk. Russ Bauer, Shirley Kaufman, Al Mans, Don Pazynski, Joe Policello and Ted Sauve all voted against the motion.

Lefebvre said the only negative to the restructuring of the standing committees would be longer meetings.

"I'm looking at all the pros and cons to it and I'm not really coming up with a whole lot of cons to it," he said. "I'm not seeing a whole lot of negatives to it other than longer meetings" It's the same thing you're doing now. You're just doing it with more committee members."

Sauld, who voted to approve moving the idea to the full board, said he "could keep an open mind to it," but he had concerns that you could lose experience on some committees.

Bauer voted against, saying "I think it's the supervisors that need to know the information more than the county administrator. I don't think we hired a county administrator to run our committee meetings. We hired him to run the county and supervise the department heads."

Sauve agreed with Bauer, saying "If we're going to make any structural changes here, it's got to be of benefit, not only for the citizens that we represent... I don't see where at this time we could make a change."

The committee approved a resolution urging legislation to allow input from adjacent governmental entities on the regulation of sulfide mining operations along boundary waters between Michigan and Wisconsin, the same resolution passed by the Marinette City Council last month.

Marinette County was the first local government entity to pass a resolution in opposition to the mine when they did so in September of last year. Brown and Door counties have since followed, as have the towns of Porterfield and Wagner, along with the cities of Marinette and Peshtigo. The item is set to be discussed in Oconto County as well.

The group voted unanimously to pass the resolution on to the County Board following public comment by seven speakers from Peshtigo, Marinette and Menominee.

One of the speakers was Dale Burie, president of the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River. He thanked the committee for being the first to oppose the mine.

"You were the first to step forward and protect the waters and protect the environment," he told the committee. "I appreciate your leadership."

Committee member Keller, who is also on the Marinette City Council, called the resolution a "no-brainer."

The committee also approved Corporation Counsel Mattison getting involved in the Pound sex offender placement issue.

Last Wednesday, July 26, Marinette County Circuit Court Judge James Morrison rejected the placement of violent sex offender Jeffrey Butler in the Town of Pound, but an Outagamie County judge has ordered another violent sex offender, 51-year-old Aristole Farmer, be placed in the same residence in Pound.

Mattison did not think it was her place to intervene until after the Butler hearing.

"I was very disinclined to become involved," she said. "Judge Morrison, in the hearing on the Butler case, made some very novel and interesting rulings, which led me to believe it may be time for the county to become involved in the Farmer case."


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