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Town of Peshtigo anxious to begin water discussions

EagleHerald Staff Writer

PESHTIGO—The Peshtigo Town Board is anxious for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to finalize a date for the long-awaited water supply discussions between the town, Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) and other stakeholders.

During a July 30 meeting with JCI Vice President & Chief Sustainability, Global Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer Kathleen McGinty, the town set a target date for the end of September to begin discussions about long-term water supply options for town residents impacted by the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination caused by the historic activities of Tyco Fire Products (Tyco), a subsidiary of JCI.

With the September target date past and several more steps to go before the discussions can begin, Town of Peshtigo Chairperson Cindy Boyle said at the Water Committee meeting Wednesday that she is “(growing) impatient by the day,” particularly given that she will be gone the last week of October.

The town board has finalized its selection of Madison-based engineering firm Strand Associates, Inc. and Wilmington, Delaware-based law firm Grant & Eisenhofer to assist in preparations for the discussions. The DNR has also chosen envADR President Robert Olian to facilitate the discussions after vetting through a combined list of potential mediators provided by JCI, the town and the DNR itself.

DNR Program and Policy Analyst Molly Schmidt sent an email Wednesday to Boyle, Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot, Peshtigo Mayor Cathi Malke, McGinty, Olian and DNR personnel asking for informational background documents and confirmation of point of contact information. Schmidt also notified the parties that Olian would be reaching out to each of them to arrange initial meetings after receipt of these items. To avoid further delay, Boyle said she would follow-up with Schmidt to institute a timeline for the other stakeholders to complete these tasks.

Water Committee members also requested that Tyco/JCI Attorney Steven Wolfe, who was present at the Wednesday meeting, ask Tyco to look into the City of Marinette’s incomplete Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. (R/M) report. R/M is a Waukesha-based engineering firm that the city contracted to conduct an independent analysis of the impacts of various long-term water solution options. According to Genisot and several alderpersons, however, the full report was never completed. “If (the city) is not interested in having the report completed, that tells you where they are even if they’re in attendance (at the summit),” Boyle said.

The City of Peshtigo, another potential source of long-term water, is expected to participate in the mediated water discussions.

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Peshtigo Elementary 4K class: Where it all begins

PESHTIGO—Peshtigo School District’s four-year-old kindergarten, also known as 4K, has impacted Peshtigo students for 14 years.

Have you ever wondered, “What is 4K?” or “What are teachers working on with their four-year-old students who are in their first year of school?” “Where are four-year-olds developmentally?”

What do current Peshtigo High School seniors remember from their 4K classes fourteen years ago?

“Mrs. Gardon was the best! I remember being so excited to see her every day,” said Senior Madeline Fifarek, recalling fond memories of her 4K class from 14 years ago. “I also loved running to the play kitchen, like the one I had at home.”

Senior Sydney Lund remembers from her four-year-old kindergarten class, “My favorites were the building blocks and the big playhouse in the classroom. Also, we got to eat green eggs and ham after Mr. (Justin) Woulf read Dr. Seuss to us.”

Senior Alexis Haynes said, “My favorite memory was we set up our chairs shaped like the inside of an airplane, then our teachers, Mrs. Flett and Mrs. Jornlin, handed out snacks as if they were flight attendants.“

Four-year-olds are just learning how to socially interact and express themselves. Peshtigo 4K teacher Justin Woulf surveyed his students, asking “Are you excited to come to school?” Responses ranged from “No, I’m too tired this morning,” to “Yes, I like to play outside.” One student said, “I used to have a cat, then we lost it.” The funniest response to the prompt was, “I like pickle ice cream!”

At this age, Peshtigo teachers work really hard to teach key concepts through play. “4K is where it all begins for children in school. It’s where we lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning,” said four-year-old kindergarten teacher Michelle Campbell. Woulf adds, “It’s hard for me to not get excited about being at school when I see how excited these little faces are each and every day.”

Peshtigo’s 4K program consists of social/emotional development activities, motor skill development, and academic learning through play. “Many older children will come back and say they want to come back to 4K because ‘all they did was play,’ but little did they know that they were learning too.” Woulf has been teaching at the four-year-old kindergarten level since the program first started in Peshtigo.

“Often this is the first time that our children are interacting with teachers and other children their age,” Campbell goes on to explain that they are learning to play and share with others and are learning how to be friends. For example, Woulf says, “when they are playing at the train table, they are learning social skills like patience and taking turns. Equally as important, children are learning to use their imagination. Woulf adds that fine motor skills are improved upon simply by moving trains around the track, as well as math skills when counting the trains as they go by.

Fine and gross motor skills are improved upon at this level. Campbell says that often this is the first time students experience, “holding a pencil, using a scissors, or hanging on the monkey bars.” Craft centers are very important for development. Woulf shares that working on holding a pencil, writing a name and even cutting, gluing, coloring, and painting help students learn. He says that “making crafts may look simple, but this helps to build up muscles of the hand to help with fine motor development and prepares students for writing.” One of Campbell’s students proudly shouted, “Look what I can do!” as he completed the whole set of monkey bars.

Play-based curriculum means that children are learning as they play. Campbell explains that at this 4K level, students are “learning letter and number recognition, shapes, colors, and name recognition, all while having fun.” Woulf adds that they are also “writing letters and numbers, practicing using names, creating and copying patterns and sorting,” which are all important literacy and math skills.

“There has never been a doubt in my mind that the Peshtigo 4K teachers are stellar,” said Bre Weed, parent. She also said she has had two older children in four-year-old kindergarten. Her youngest, Drake, has just started 4K this year. At first, she says, “Drake was very unsure, scared, and hesitant about going to school.” Weed said Campbell has a way of making children feel welcome in her classroom. After leaving the open house, Drake said to his parents, “I think this might be good for me.” Now Drake comes home from school with a smile on his face every day.

Carrie Anderson, parent of Owen, also says, “My son loves the classroom. He enjoys singing and dancing with his friends.” Anderson “trusts the Peshtigo School System, because I’m a product of the Peshtigo School District. I love it here and my kids do too.” Besides Owen, Anderson had two older children go through the 4K program. She said, “I appreciate all of the 4K teachers and helpers and all they do to keep our kids safe and happy while learning. I love hearing about all of the fun things they’re learning.”

“As parents, we get emails, Facebook posts, Skyward access, and updates from teachers through apps,” said Kelsey Lossett, 4K parent, appreciate the great communication from Peshtigo 4K teachers. “My youngest, Marley, has just started 4K. She asks every day if it’s a school day or a weekend. When I reply, ‘It’s the weekend,’ she asks if she can go to school anyways.” Lossett adds, “All of the teachers here in Peshtigo have been outstanding in their efforts to make my children feel welcome.”

“Mr. Woulf and Mrs. Campbell both continuously create new ideas and fun learning activities for their students which keeps them excited and maintains their eagerness to learn. They truly care for their students as if they were their own,” Weed adds. Woulf reiterates, “I want these kids to start their school careers off with positive experiences. It’s my job to make them want to keep coming back.”

Green Bay man dies in Oconto County crash
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OCONTO—A 21-year-old Green Bay man died Friday as the result of a two-vehicle accident in Oconto County.

Sheriff Todd Skarban reports that the dispatch center received a call at 1:22 p.m. Friday of a two-vehicle accident on U.S. 41 near Maple Grove School Road in the Town of Little River. He said the preliminary investigation shows a dump truck driven by a 42-year-old Oconto male was traveling southbound on U.S. 41 when a pickup truck driven by the Green Bay man struck the dump truck from behind. The driver of the dump truck was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the pickup truck was transported to a Green Bay hospital, and later died of his injuries.

An ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Oconto County Sheriff’s Office, Wisconsin State Patrol and the Brown County Medical Examiner’s Office. The Oconto County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Oconto Police Department, Little River Fire Department, Oconto Fire and Rescue Department, Oconto County Highway Department, Wisconsin State Patrol and the Brown County Medical Examiner’s Office.

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Menominee County's 2021 reapportionment plan reassigns some precincts

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—Menominee County has announced a new reapportionment plan with slight changes to district boundaries in some areas, but they won’t take effect until the 2022 election cycle, County Clerk Marc Kleiman said Thursday.

Some precincts in the city will be moved or eliminated, but the changes aren’t expected to affect city wards. “The city wards are drawn completely separate to the county commissioner districts,” Kleiman said.

County commissioners are not on the November ballot this year, so the reapportionment plan won’t be noticeable until next year.

The next county election is a primary prior to the November 2022 general election, said County Commissioner Larry Schei, who represents the 4th district.

Schei agrees with the apportionment committee’s decision to keep a nine-member board.

“My feeling was, I would have been satisfied with either seven or nine commissioners on the county board. I felt that seven would work. It would be change. Nine is perfect because it stays the same, and more than nine wouldn’t be necessary.”

The target population for each district in the reapportionment plan was 2,611, but geography was also a factor in how district lines were drawn.

Most of the nine districts in the county will remain about the same size geographically.

In the new plan, Nadeau Township is entirely in District 7 represented by Commissioner Gerald Piche. Previously Commissioner Nick Hanchek, who represented District 8, also represented part of Nadeau Township.

New boundaries within the city of Menominee reduce the number of splits within the four city districts (Districts 1 through 4) and move some residents to different precincts or districts, which could affect residents’ county representation in the future.

In the new plan, each district in the city of Menominee has two precincts, while in the past District 1 and District 3 had three precincts, Kleiman said. City wards are drawn completely separate from the county districts, he said.

To allow for the county remapping, some precincts have been reassigned to different districts.

Æ District 1, represented by Commissioner Steven Gromala, includes precincts 1 and 2A, but no longer precinct 3A.

Æ Precinct 3A is now in District 2, represented by Commissioner Bernie Lang. District 2 still includes precinct 2B, but no longer includes precinct 3B.

Æ Precinct 3B is now in District 3, represented by County Board Chair Larry Phelps. This district still includes precinct 4A. Precincts 2C and 3C no longer exist in the remapping.

Æ District 4, represented by Schei, remains the same with city Precinct 4B and Menominee Township Precinct 1.

Æ District 5, represented by Commissioner William Cech, and District 6, represented by Commissioner David Prestin, remain the same.

Æ District 9, represented by Larry Johnson Jr., remains the same.

Menominee City Clerk Kathy Brofka said the county district remapping will not affect the four city wards or the upcoming city council election.

Coleman woman dies from injuries sustained in crash
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MARINETTE—An 83-year-old Coleman woman died Saturday as the result of a traffic crash Thursday in Marinette County.

Sheriff Jerry Sauve said the deceased has been identified as Loretta M. Patz. The Marinette County medical examiner was notified Saturday that Patz died in a Madison hospital.

At 3:45 a.m. Thursday, emergency responders were dispatched to County Trunk B near Jandt Road in the Town of Grover for a vehicle that was discovered in the north ditch that had struck several trees, according to the sheriff’s department. It appeared the vehicle was eastbound in the fog and failed to negotiate the curve. The victim was alone in the vehicle.

Assisting the Sheriff’s Officers at the scene were the Aurora/Bay Area Paramedics, Marinette Rescue Squad, Peshtigo Police, the Grover-Porterfield Fire Department and the Marinette County Highway Commission. This crash remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office and medical examiner.

This is the seventh traffic fatality in Marinette in 2021.