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County Board Gets Preview of Menekaunee Bear Statue

Issue Date: May 29, 2019

At its meeting on Tuesday, May 28, Marinette County Board by a vote of 20 in favor and eight opposed, approved a resolution asking the State of Wisconsin to not legalize recreational use of marijuana. Opposing votes were cast by supervisors Mark Anderson (board chair), Mike Behnke, Glenn Broderick, Gilbert Engel, Tom Mandli, Al Sauld, Jillian Schutte and Bill Stankevich. Supervisors John Guarisco and David Zahn were absent.

By a narrow 13 to 15 vote defeated an ordinance change that would have restored provision for "a moment of silent prayer" at the start of each board meeting.

Instead, they approved a change from "moment of silent reflection" to "moment of silence," as recommended by the Executive Committee.

At the Executive Committee meeting a motion to restore the "Moment of Silent Prayer had been defeated with supervisors Paul Gustafson and Vilas Schroeder voting in favor and Chair Mark Anderson and Supervisors Bob Holley, Ken Keller, and Ted Sauve opposed. They favored changing "moment of silent reflection " to "moment of silence."

During County Board discussion Supervisor Gilbert Engel said keeping simply moment of silence would respect people of any belief or no belief, while others, including Supervisor Mike Behnke, said allowing time for silent prayer forces no one to pray if they do not want to, and people who choose to pray can pray to anyone they choose. Voting in favor of the amendment for silent prayer were supervisors Mike Behnke, Laura Frea, Paul Gustafson, Shirley Kaufman, George Kloppenburg, Al Mans, Don Pazynski, Rick Polzin, Tricia Grebin, Bonnie Popp, Ted Sauve, Vilas Schroeder and Gail Wanek. Supervisors Dave Zahn and John Guarisco were absent.

Voting against the moment of prayer amendment were supervisors Mark Anderson, Glenn Broderick, Penny Chaikowski, Ginger Deschane, Gilbert Engel, Chris Gromala, Bob Holley, Robert Hoyer, Ken Keller, Tom Mailand, Tom Mandli, Al Sauld, Jillian Schutte, Bill Stankevich and Clancy Whiting.

The moment of silence provision, along with other somewhat minor procedural changes in the board procedure ordinance were then approved on 22 to six vote, with Behnke, Gustafson, Kaufman, Polzin, Popp and Wanek opposed, Guarisco and Zahn absent and the other 22 supervisors voting in favor.

Jane M. Sequin, recently appointed to replace Frances Boyle as Marinette County Circuit Court Commissioner and Register in Probate, was introduced to the board by Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison.

Sequin, who spent 22 years as Brown County Circuit Court Commissioner, is a Marinette native who has been living in Green Bay with her husband, Scott Sequin, who also originally comes from Marinette and all four of their children were born in Marinette. She is the daughter of the late Marinette Attorney Bill Kopish and earned a law degree from Marquette University in 1988.

County Board received a letter of resignation from District 24 Supervisor Gail Wanek, effective at 1 p.m. that afternoon. In her resignation letter, Wanek, who has served a year on the board representing her portion of the City of Marinette, said she is "in the process of pursuing other activities that would be in conflict with being on County Board." County Board Chair Mark Anderson is accepting letters from persons interested in filling the position until the term ends on April 20 of 2020. Deadline for applications is Friday, June 14.

The board was advised that Anderson appointed Supervisor Tom Mandli to the Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission and Gov. Tony Evers has appointed former MCABI Administrator Ann Hartnell to BLRPC.

Administrator John LeFebvre announced appointment of Daryl Booth as EMS representative on the Local Emergency Planning Commission and Medical Examiner Kalyn VanErmen as medical representative on the county's Traffic Safety Commission.

At the end of the meeting Anderson reported that the Executive Committee had evaluated the performance of LeFebvre as County Administrator at the conclusion of its meeting on Wednesday, May 15, "and found that he's been meeting or exceeding all our expectations."

Supervisor Ken Keller and Menominee Indian Tribal Chairman Douglas Cox and Menominee Historical Preservation Officer, David Grignon unveiled photos of the 15-foot carved wooden statute of the Ancestral Bear of the Menominees that will be installed as a focal point of the Menekaunee Harbor improvements There also either already are, or soon will be, be statues there of a commercial fisherman, sturgeon and walleye. Keller is hoping the Bear statue will be ready in about two weeks.

With Keller for the presentation in addition to Cox and Grignon, who have been working with him on the project, was Marinette City and County Tourism Director Melissa Ebsch, and Mayor Steve Genisot was seated in the audience.

The giant ancestral bear statue is being created in Sparta, Wis., and is to be the focal point of a project that began four years ago with a planting of the wild rice ceremony to commemorate the birthplace of the Menominee Nation at the mouth of the Menominee River in Menekaunee.

Keller presented a slide show on the statues, and declared that detail on the ancestral bear "exceeds even our expectations." The statue will stand atop an 18" concrete base and will be visible even from the water.

"This is exciting stuff for us," Cox declared. "The opportunity to partner on this has been a long time coming." He said the Menominees have a community group at home working on the project, which started with his predecessor, Gary Besaw. "The mouth, the harbor and the city are that important to us," he declared, and added that many Menominees visit Marinette regularly for cultural and spiritual reasons. He added they were to meet with Wisconsin Historical Society later that day on the 60-island project, which is to be a cultural landscape study that ties into the Menominee River area and the harbor at Menekaunee, where legend is that the great ancestral bear originated and the Menominee people were created millenniums ago. The bear, his friend the eagle, and then the wolf, moose and crane were transformed into humans and became the clans of the Menominees. The area along Riverside Cemetery in Menominee was an ancient burial grounds for their tribe. Grignon said every time he visits Menekaunee, "I have the feeling that something special happened here."

He said in 1836 the Menominees were forced to many thousands of acres of tribal land to the government, and then the reservation at Keshena was created for them in 1864.


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