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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Elderly Services Faces Growing Need For Home Delivered Meals

Issue Date: November 25, 2020

Elderly Services Director Pam Mueller Johnson welcomed Mike Behnke of Peshtigo as the newest member of the Marinette County Committee on Aging when that group held its monthly meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, at the Northwoods Senior Cafe & Center on Hwy. 141 in Crivitz.

Behnke, who attended remotely, will be representing the Peshtigo/Grover area. He is a City of Peshtigo Alderman and represents a portion of the City of Peshtigo as a Supervisor on Marinette County Board. He serves on County Board's Health and Human Services Committee.

Present in person for the meeting were Chair Don Phillips, and committee members Debbie Baumgart, Rick Downs and Al Sauld. In addition to Behnke, Joan Rocque participated remotely. Colleen Risner was absent and excused. Others present in addition to Mueller Johnson were Elder Benefit Specialist Olivia Cherry; Transportation Coordinator Mary Basak; Finance Coordinator Jeff Churchill; Nutrition Coordinator Lindsey Rysewek, and Office Coordinator Shelly Menger.

Rysewyk introduced herself to the members that were attending remotely. She said at the end of September, the Home Delivered Meals were up 29% from last year. Referrals for home delivered meals have been coming in a lot lately, due to the congregate sites still being closed due to the Covid-19 concerns. "It's a challenge for staff, with the growing routes and deliveries of more frozen meals," she said.

Rysewyk said she had been contacted by St. Thomas Aquinas School asking if the children could make well wishes cards and Christmas cards for the elderly as a special project. That will be done, and the cards will be going out to our homebound over the holidays, Rysewyk said. She also shared some of the ways in which she and other staff members been trying to keep the elderly involved, which includes coloring and word search contests.

At the end of this year, the Niagara Senior Center will disband as a non-profit, which will be a challenge for the Elderly Services meal site that is housed there. "We will contract with the county and will continue the Meal Site and hopefully be able to hold other activities there someday," Rysewyk said.

Transportation/Special Projects Coordinator Mary Basak introduced herself and passed out a sheet with the newest fleet of vehicles listing for the Agency. It showed a few changes, including the addition of the two newest Ford Escapes.

Basak talked about each vehicle and which sites are currently using these vehicles. There was discussion on the fact that the buses no longer go over the state lines and how that has changed some of the routes. Mary stated they are looking to buy another new vehicle, to replace one that was recently damaged in an accident. Following discussion, motion to recommend purchase a new vehicle was approved.

Elder Benefit Specialist Olivia Cherry introduced herself and said that it's Medicare Open Enrollment right now and explained some of the ways she has been trying to help people that are so confused by a lot of the commercials that they are seeing. She talked about what supplement and advantage plans are and explained the differences between them and how they each work. She said every individual's needs are different and she helps people to decide which plan works the best for them. The report was followed by committee discussion.

Finance Coordinator Churchill shared the status of the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan the agency had gotten through Stephenson National Bank & Trust. He recently learned the loan was forgiven and won't need to be paid back, since it was used in all the correct areas. Churchill said in addition to the PPP loan, they had gotten other funds due to COVID that will help the 2021 budget. There was discussion on ways to use some of these funds.

The committee was advised that the grant application they do annually with the Marinette County Health and Human Services Department is being prepared. On motion by Behnke, seconded by Sauld, the Committee approved the joint submission.

The Committee was advised that Elderly Services will again be doing a Caring Tree gift project for Homebound Meal participants, but it will be done a little differently this year, due to COVID. There was discussion on how the public can drop off Christmas gifts outside the agency to be delivered to the homebound though the Holidays.

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy students will be doing intergenerational Christmas cards for the homebound this year.

They are still waiting for the Marinette Meal Site contract. Rent for the Peshtigo Meal Site will continue to stay the same, and motion to accept it again was approved without dissent. Mueller Johnson said two board member terms are ending and need to be recommended to the county for second terms and member Colleen Risner's position will need to be filled. On motion by Behnke, seconded by Sauld, the committee recommended Debbie Baumgart for a second term and to seek someone to fill the vacant position left by Risner's resignation.

Mueller Johnson shared a few thank you letters program participants, and reported they had recently received nice donations from "Open Mic Night" at Thor's Wolverine Den and from the Marinette County Tavern League.


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