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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Administrator Names Van Ermen Medical Examiner

Issue Date: December 20, 2018

At its final meeting of the year on Tuesday, Dec. 18, Marinette County Board endorsed Administrator John LeFebvre's appointment of Kalynn Van Ermen to become Marinette County's first ever Medical Examiner effective Jan. 2, 2019. LeFebvre said long time elected Coroner George Smith will maintain jurisdiction as coroner until his term ends on Monday, Jan. 7.

Van Ermen comes from Brown County, where she served as office manager and lead investigator with the Brown County Medical Examiner's office. She is the wife of Marinette County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Sean Van Ermen.

On March 27 of this year County Board approved LeFebvre's recommendation to replace the elected coroner position with a part time employee as medical examiner, so Smith's coroner post was not on the ballot for the fall elections. Since then, LeFebvre has added various other duties to the Medical Examiner's position and convinced County Board to make it full time, an action that was approved at the board's meeting on Tuesday, Aug.28.

That proposition was approved by the Public Services Committee on Aug. 7, where the pay was at at grade level I, which could vary depending on the step at which the person was hired, but was expected to cost about $89,853, which would include a salary of probably $55,161 plus fringes and other expenses. Smith's salary for the part time position has been $30,000 a year. The proposal was approved by the Administrative Committee on Aug. 16, but with pay at the Grade J level.

At the committee meetings and at the full board meeting LeFebvre discussed the difficulty of hiring a qualified person for a part-time job in that field, and also expressed doubts that there would be enough work to keep a full time medical examiner busy, so he expected to assign other duties, perhaps in Teen Court or other areas related to health and well being, and was having the job description written to provide for that.

In addition to approving Van Ermen as medical examiner, at its most recent meeting on Dec. 18, County Board approved recommendations from LeFebvre and the Administrative Committee to provide a $10,000 bond for the medical examiner, and set pay for deputy medical examiners at pay grade F, with $40 for each call up to the first two hours, and an additional $20 per hour after that.

Currently pay is $50 per call up to six hours and then $7.50 per hour for each hour beyond that.

Supervisor Ginger Deschane questioned paying $7.50 per hour "for doing the nastiest job on the planet." LeFebvre explained that was the old pay schedule, while the new pay is $20 per hour. He added that this is a matter of perception, and average total pay per call will probably come out close to the same.

The resignation of District 14 Supervisor Josh Anderson, who represents Wards 1 and 3 in the Town of Porterfield. Anderson , son of County Board Chair Mark Anderson, is serving his first term on the board. He said after the meeting that he is moving out of his home in District 14 and into a new home which is also in Porterfield, but in a different supervisory district. Board Chair Mark Anderson said he expects to appoint a replacement supervisor at the board's January meeting. All current supervisory terms on the board end in April and will be on the ballot for the April 2 elections.

Other action at the busy meeting included reorganization and merger of the Highway Department and the Emergency Management Departments into a single entity headed by the Highway Commissioner as recommended by LeFebvre and the Administrative and Infrastructure committees.

Eric Burmeister, who has served for several years as Emergency Management Director, had been named interim highway commissioner in May and accepted the Highway Commissioner position on a permanent basis after County Board approval at the Aug. 28 meeting. He has continued to handle Emergency Management responsibilities as well.

With the reorganization there will no longer be an Emergency Management Director as a department head. Board action approved creating an Emergency Coordinator post in the Highway Department, working under the supervision of the Highway Commissioner.

Before the vote Supervisor Glenn Broderick asked if there are other counties that have emergency management as part of the Highway Department, and if so, is Marathon County one of them. LeFebvre said in Marathon County the Emergency Management office is located in the Highway Department headquarters. LeFebvre said the Highway Department would be involved in cleanup work in just about any disaster he could think of. The Sheriff's Department is automatically involved, and does not require anyone to call them out.

Supervisor Mike Behnke was concerned about loading too much responsibility on Burmeister, citing things that had happened in the past when responsibilities got too heavy for one individual to handle.

Supervisor Bonnie Popp commented that a future Highway Commissioner might not have an Emergency Management background as Burmeister does. LeFebvre said in that case, "the emergency management coordinator can educate him." He added that no matter what kind of emergency occurs, it is almost certain that Highway Department equipment and personnel will be involved.

Behnke asked if this new structure meant the Highway Department would be better prepared for emergencies, and LeFebvre felt it would. Behnke asked if the Highway Commissioner would be working with the sheriff, and LeFebvre said Emergency Management is a service to the Sheriff's Department, and regardless of who or what else might be involved, the Sheriff's Department will always automatically respond to an emergency situation without being called in by anyone.

After much discussion, several attempts to delay the approval and in the face of much opposition, the board voted to renew its contract with the City of Marinette for the tourism and marketing services of Melissa Ebsch. That approval came after Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison pointed out the contract includes a clause by which either the city or the county can end it with 30 days' advance notice.

Contracts though which the county will continue to provide Information Technology and Human Resources assistance to the City of Marinette were also approved after a bit of discussion.

Reversing a move made a few years ago, the board removed a number of accounting positions from jurisdiction of the Finance Department and made them again part of the offices where they do their work. This includes accounting clerks in the Highway Department, Sheriff's Department, and Health and Human Services, who will all again be under the direct supervision of the department heads for whom they work. A position of Financial Manager was approved for the Highway Department, effective Jan. 2, and an account position in finance will be eliminated upon a vacancy. An Administrative Specialist post was also approved for the Highway Department effective Jan. 2, and that position will eliminate the part-time Emergency Management Program Assistant immediately.

Changes were made in a number of ordinances to bring them into compliance with the changes approved by the board.

Several changes to the Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual were approved as recommended by LeFebvre and the governing committee, including change on sick leave and HRA payouts for veteran employees, which Lefebvre predicted would not make them happy, and said would affect about 90 employees.


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