Full plate of public services keep county supervisors busy

Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

What have you done for me lately? That is a question sometimes asked by citizens when talking to a local or legislative representative.

If it’s a question of wanting to be informed about a certain issue or what might be happening in general, it tends to develop into a good discussion.

To expand on the question, let me take a moment to review one of my Sheboygan County committees and its recent activities.

The Sheboygan County Planning, Resources, Agriculture and Extension Committee (PRAE Committee) is involved in many responsibilities including wetland mediation.

With the rebuilding building of Hwy LS and extension of the runway at the Sheboygan County Airport, the county is responsible for reclaiming wetlands lost in those developments.

In keeping with state and federal laws, when wetlands are allowed to be legally taken, businesses and governments involved are required to reclaim other wetlands as a replacement.

While Wisconsin has sadly lost half of all of its wetlands, it is not an inexpensive process of protecting, keeping or replacing wetlands because of development.

On Thursday morning, June 5, the Sheboygan County Board’s PRAE Committee, county board leadership staff, state and federal officials met to search out local opportunities for wetland mediation that could be a major benefit and savings to Sheboygan County taxpayers.

Then in the afternoon of June 5, all supervisors who were available met for the annual Sheboygan County Board Leadership Forum. That meeting went from 2:00 pm to 7:30 pm and included a full review of the major issues facing the Board including a new budget for 2015.

Because of newly elected supervisors, their roles and responsibilities were discussed by Andy Phillips, an attorney with the Wisconsin Counties Association. It was also a good review for experienced supervisors.

Terry Hanson, County Finance Director, reviewed the overall 2013 County financial results, dept service, and the county’s Five-Year Capitol Plan.

Other areas covered included: County financial outlook and 2015 budget process by Adam Payne and an overview of the Employee Grievance Process by attorney Carl Buesing.

Wetland mitigation, community area fiber network, combined dispatch & radio upgrade, election process, and employee compensation study were also reviewed and discussed with supervisors asking questions and getting answers from staff.

The following morning, Friday, June 6, the PRAE Committee met at the Sheboygan Marsh. Waiting for us was Dan Weidert and Ed Eilert from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources along with two of their air boats.

Those heading into the marsh interior included: Sheboygan County Planning Director, Aaron Brault, and supervisors Libby Ogea, Keith Abler, Fran Damp, Jim Baumgart and Edward Prochek.

With two new Sheboygan County Supervisors on the Planning, Resources, Agriculture and Extension Committee (PRAE Committee) and a third supervisor back on the committee after a few years off, it was important to take a tour of the Sheboygan Marsh.

The county has an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources to manage the county’s wetlands. It is the committee’s responsibility to insure it is done according to that agreement.

By air boat, we first drove the marsh channels, then part of the Sheboygan River and finally the big lake itself.

We reviewed the cattail issue (it cost Sheboygan County over $70,000 for cattail removal at the dam a couple of years ago so monitoring the cattails is both environmentally, recreational and financially important).

We looked at selective cattail spraying as a control method, reviewed a wildlife refuge, habitat improvement for ducks, threatened yellow-headed blackbirds and black terns.

We saw a solid population of great blue herons, a number of sandhill cranes, Canada geese, and lots of red-winged blackbirds.

We then left the marsh to visit a nearby Sheboygan County wetland mitigation site.

So to the question of what have you done for me lately, here is an answer about just a few of the projects your Sheboygan County Board supervisors recently worked on for you.

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