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Supervisors May Consider County Mask Ordinance

Issue Date: July 29, 2020

At the Marinette County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 28, several County Board supervisors, starting with Supervisor Stan Gruszynski, suggested that the county should look into the possibility of enacting a county wide mask ordinance. Administrator John LeFebvre discouraged the idea, citing the difficulty of enforcement and stating that business places could decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to require masks in their establishments, and people could enter or not as they chose.

Masks are now required in all public areas of the Marinette County Courthouse and the annex.

There were questions as to holding the Marinette County Fair this year and Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison said the Fair Association is an independent entity that receives a very little funding from Marinette County and makes its own decisions. County Board has no authority over them.

During time for public comment at the start of the meeting, Grover Supervisor Brad Wyss and two residents of Schroeder Lane asked the board to include a Hwy. 41 crossing from Schroeder Lane to the ATV/UTV routes that were to be approved later in the meeting, but that did not happen. The committee recommendation for the trail had included that segment, but that was before a sheriff's department recommendation that it be removed. Wyss is a deputy with the Marinette County Sheriff's Department. He said the Grover town roads have been open to the recreational vehicles for a year and a half with no accidents and trails and/or routes in Oconto County have five crossings of Hwy. 41 with no incidents reported. Wyss said statistically it is safer for the vehicles to cross a 4-lane highway with a dividing median than a 2-lane highway without a divider.

Eventually, with Supervisor Connie Seefeldt casting the sole opposing vote, the board approved an amendment removing the Schroeder Lane crossing, and then approved ordinance revisions adding County D from Loucks Road to Hwy. 64, County M from Drees Road to Vernon Hills Road (rather than Hwy. 41 as requested by the clubs and the town), County O from Barlow Lake Road to County Hwy. N in the Town of Niagara, and County P from 3rd Road to Hwy. 141 in the Town of Beaver.

Before the vote, Seefeldt asked if the Schroeder Lane residents would then need to trailer their vehicles across the highway to get on the designated recreational routes, and that appeared to be the case. The recreational vehicles would then also not be able to access the business on the other side of Hwy. 41.

To questions from Seefeldt, LeFebvre said ATV routes do cross state highways elsewhere in the state, and also elsewhere in Marinette County, but he added that they have always tried to make county routes stop short of the highway. He agreed the Town of Grover has asked to have residents cross from Schroeder Lane on to County M, and they say it isn't a safety concern.

Supervisor Gruszynski asked for clarification that approving the amendment would support law enforcement's recommendation, and was told that it would.

Replying to concerns about county liability in case of an ATV/UTV accident, County Board Chair John Guarisco said if the users of these vehicles cause an accident they are liable for damages, whether they have insurance or not.

Before the vote, Committee Chair Supervisor Al Mans suggested that on safety issues, County Board should listen to the professionals.

The amendment was approved with Seefeldt casting the sole opposing vote, and then the main motion approving the routes as recommended by the committee were approved as recommended. with Seefeldt again opposed.

The meeting included presentations by a number of department heads on their department responsibilities and activities, and on the renovation of the Ella Court Building that began its life as a jail and law enforcement center and is being converted into a county office building, topped with a green roof. LeFebvre said the renovation is proceeding on schedule and in budget, and work should be completed by the Oct. 31 target date.

At the start of the meeting Dan Barr and Shaemus O'Connel of Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) presented Representative John Nygren of Marinette with that organization's Outstanding Legislator in recognition of all the work he does to assist counties as 89th Assembly District representative. Nygren has been the Marinette representative since 2006, Barr said, and declared as co-chair of the Joint Legislative Finance committee, Nygren "... does a lot of things for us, from transportation aids to Health and Human services issues" and added, "We come to him with a lot of wants and he always is receptive."


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