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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Masks No Longer Required In Marinette County Facilities

Issue Date: May 27, 2021

For the first time in many months, the Marinette County Board meeting on Tuesday, May 25 was held in the courthouse and with almost no masks in sight. When the Covid-19 pandemic began 15 months ago, County Administrator John LeFebvre imposed rules requiring masks in the courthouse, and now, he explained to County Board on Tuesday, he has lifted that mandate. He told supervisors if they wanted to impose a mask mandate they could, but no supervisors made an effort to do that.

It was the first ever County Board meeting held in the new meeting room on the first floor of the original section of the Courthouse on Hall Avenue in Marinette. Remodeling of the former office area to accommodate large public meetings is almost, but not quite, complete.

The meeting began with an appearance by Judge James A. Morrison to accept a $7,500 donation to the county's Mental Health Court from M&M Community Foundation.

He thanked Lt. Joe Nault of the Marinette City Police Department for his efforts that led to the award, which was presented at the County Board meeting by M&M Community Foundation Director Paula Gruszynski.

Morrison said the grant would not have become a reality had it not been for the efforts of Nault and the Mental Health Court team.

The Mental Health Court meets at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday morning, Morrison said, and every Tuesday morning, Dr. Guy Powers, Psychiatrist with the Marinette County Department of Health and Human Services, is there to share his expertise. "I don't know of any other Mental Health Court anywhere that has a psychiatrist on the team," Judge Morrison declared.

"It's a big deal," Judge Morrison declared, as he thanked the entire Marinette County administrative team for their cooperation in the successes of the Mental Health Court, which they were celebrating that day.

Gruszynski said M&M Foundation decides where their money will go largely on the basis of how many people it will help. She added those decisions are tough, because there are always more applications than funds, "and we need to be good stewards." She said Nault had told them $500 would help eight people, and added, as she presented the check for $7,500, "This Mental Health Court changes lives from here to Goodman" This helps far more than eight people, directly and indirectly."

Judge Morrison said the four members of Mental Health Court that morning were in far, far better condition than they had been when the court started a year ago, with their mental health issues not cured, but under control. He expects all four to be ready to graduate from the court this fall.

During time for public comment at the meeting two speakers objected to the county's purchase of Dominion voting machines, and there was some discussion on attempts to locate suitable housing for a 980 sex offender. (See related stories in today's issue of the Peshtigo Times.)

The 2022 budget policy and budget schedule were approved as presented by LeFebvre despite attempts by Supervisor Bonnie Popp to get a modification that would allow for official recommendations from the committees of jurisdiction before the document was presented for County Board approval. Popp's motion calling for committee input in August was seconded by Supervisor Connie Seefeldt, but failed by a 25 to three vote. Votes in favor of the motion were cast by Popp, Seefeldt and Supervisor Shirley Kaufman. Supervisors Ginger Deschane and Jillian Schutte were absent.

LeFebvre's appointment of Mary Bodam to represent Bay Area Aurora Medical Center on the Local Emergency Planning Committee was approved with Kaufman casting the sole opposing vote. Kaufman had asked for that appointment to be separate from the other two, which were approved without dissent. They are Lt. Chris Lesperance of Marinette County Sheriff's Department and Greg Loll, Emergency Medical Services Association member.

In his report to County Board, LeFebvre mentioned that the rolling tables in the newly refurbished board room could be moved into any desired configuration to facilitate other meetings. He said the Health and Human Services Committee could continue meeting at the Health and Human Services building if they chose, but other committees will now meet in the new County Board Room, which he described as: "still a work in progress."

Next step toward his goal of turning the entire Courthouse Annex into a secure Judicial Center will be moving the Clerk of Courts office from its current location on the second floor of the original courthouse into the annex. For security purposes, all access to the Judicial Center in the annex will be through the basement, where everyone entering can be screened. This is part of an increased security plan that has been in the making for over a year. He expects remodeling of the annex to be completed within six months.

LeFebvre noted that Judge Morrison is Chief Justice for the 8th Judicial District, "and he is very keen on security of the court system."

With the Covid restrictions lifted, all County Board members will be required to attend their meetings in person, starting in June. He said the mask requirements and permission to attend remotely were put in place as executive orders issued by himself and County Board Chair John Guarisco, and they also have the power to remove them. "We opened this window and so we can close it," he said, and added, ""if County Board wants to change that, they can."

LeFebvre saluted the Civilian Corrections Officers who work at the jail, and the 911 dispatchers for their efforts, and noted that in the last two weeks there has again been a spike in prisoners at the jail, serious enough that some had been moved to jails in Florence and Oconto counties.

"That stimulus money is working very well"it's stimulating purchase of drugs," Sheriff Jerry Sauve commented from the sidelines in the board room.


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