EagleHerald Staff Writer
MENOMINEE—For the third time since the Menominee Lighthouse was restored in 2017, vandals hit the iconic structure with graffiti late Saturday or early Sunday, prompting a donor to pledge a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who defaced the property.
“It’s our icon. It’s our symbol of Menominee,” Mike Kaufman, executive director of the Menominee County Historical Society, said about the lighthouse.
Graffiti also was found on the exterior of Menominee High School, and school authorities reportedly were reviewing video footage to determine who might be involved. The high school confirmed the incident but calls to the principal and assistant principal requesting comment were not returned at press time.
The reward funds were provided by an anonymous donor and will come from the Menominee County Historical Society, which runs lighthouse tours from Memorial Day to Labor Day four days per week.
Another donor, Timothy Farley of Farley Consulting, contacted the EagleHerald Thursday about making a $100 contribution to the reward fund. Donations can be sent to the Menominee Historical Society at P.O. Box 151, Menominee, MI, 49858. Farley, who grew up in Marinette, lives in Arizona but has a summer house on Shore Drive. He said he read about the vandalism on ehextra.com.
“That area is so beautiful and that lighthouse is one of its prized landmarks. They should install security cameras,” Farley said in an email to the EagleHerald.
By providing the reward, the primary donor hopes to encourage people to come forward with information about the vandalism. The Menominee Police Department said Thursday afternoon the incident was still under investigation. Anyone with information pertaining to it should contact the police department at 906-863-5568.
“Somebody’s going to talk for that kind of money,” said Skip Heckel, a volunteer lighthouse keeper who provides tours of the lighthouse and spotted the graffiti while photographing the sunrise Sunday morning after it snowed. He said vandals have spray-painted graffiti twice before.
“The last time, the people were apprehended,” Kaufman said. “If they get caught, that would deter them from thinking this is in any way a harmless prank. It’s not. It’s going to take a lot of hours to repair it.”
Kaufman and Skip Heckel, a volunteer lighthouse keeper who provides tours of the lighthouse, said they spent several hours Monday washing off the purple paint from the base, windows, doors and signs, but still had more to clean. “The reason you get out there and take care of it, you don’t want to draw attention to it,” Kaufman said.
The vandals’ message was vulgar, the men said. But after working to clean the lighthouse, “that’s all smudged out. You can’t read any more of the writing,” Kaufman said.
“They did the high school with the same verbiage,” Kaufman said.
Heckel said teenagers are the likely perpetrators because of this message painted on the lighthouse: “Maroons suck.”
Heckel said the surveillance cameras at the high school might help solve the crime. He and Kaufman said they’d like to place security cameras at the lighthouse, but running the electricity from the shore to the end of the pier will be costly.
“I don’t know if Marinette kids are doing it, or Menominee kids are making it look like Marinette kids are doing it,” Heckel said. Marinette High School had no comment.
“I’m pretty sure it’s teenagers,” he said. “Last time they did the lighthouse, they also did the courthouse and a few other buildings in Menominee. I guess they did apprehend whoever did it. I guess it was one kid and one adult,” Heckel said.
The white base of the lighthouse will have to be repainted, Heckel and Kaufman said, but it will have to wait until spring when the weather is warmer. Kaufman said the lighthouse is owned by the City of Menominee, but the Historical Society has an agreement with the city to use the lighthouse for tours and maintain it. “We’re responsible for its maintenance and upkeep,” he said.
Heckel said he noticed the graffiti from the shore Sunday morning. “I just zoomed in on my camera and could see there was graffiti,” he said. “I went up there later and could see it was on all four sides of the lighthouse, not just the ones you can see from the shore.”
Heckel views the lighthouse while taking sunrise photos most mornings. “I’m probably out there at least four times a week. Usually, there’s a couple of fishermen out there by the lighthouse,” he said. “I just happened to go out there Sunday morning because of the first snowfall we had,” he said.
EagleHerald Staff Writer
MARINETTE—The City of Marinette’s Community Development Plan is nearing its final stages of revision and is expected to be complete early next year. Urban Planner Amanda Arnold from Ayres Associates, Inc, an engineering consultant, presented the plan in its current state at a community meeting Wednesday and gathered feedback from attending residents.
The City of Marinette received Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds in early 2020 to develop a plan that will set city objectives and policies for 2022 through 2027. Community members can view the current plan at https://www.marinettecomdev.com/ and contribute input by filling out the community survey (https://www.marinettecomdev.com/community-survey) or by contacting Arnold at 1-608-443-1200, 1-608-441-3564 or ArnoldA@AyresAssociates.com.
During the presentation, Arnold identified five main goals for the city:
The presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination in the city is an ongoing obstacle for marketing the community to outsiders, one resident pointed out.
She thought PFAS mitigation should be the top priority in the plan, given that it impacts the city’s image and almost any development project the city might undertake.
“I think we need a big investment toward fixing what we now know to be a major environmental catastrophe in our area,” she said. “This could go a very long way, I think it would be a great jumping off point for helping literally every other thing (in this plan).”
The resident said, to this end, that she would like to see more PFAS testing so that the city can have a better picture of the extent of the contamination.
Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot said the city is hoping to partner with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) on more research and testing for PFAS. Alderperson Doug Oitzinger also suggested that the hospital—Aurora Medical Center-Bay Area—and local medical clinics partner with UWGB to examine the health impacts of this contamination.
In terms of attracting people to the area, Arnold mentioned the idea of offering monetary incentives for people to move to Marinette, a strategy that other cities across the country, like Baltimore, Maryland, are already implementing. She said the idea is that the city would make the money back when people, for example, purchase a house.
But other resources and infrastructure would be needed to help the city thrive and make people want to stay.
Attracting and supporting businesses is a component of this, but not without its own risks.
“Most of the storefronts in the downtown area lend themselves to small businesses, and we know that small businesses tend to start out and fail at a very rapid pace,” Alderperson Jeffrey Skorik said. “Say I want to put in a pottery store there, how does someone do a feasibility study to know whether or not that’s a risk worth taking?”
Former Alderperson and Marinette resident told the EagleHerald that, to support businesses, he thinks there also needs to be more parking overall in the city, a topic that has long been contentious in the community. Marinette resident Mathew Peterson also told the EagleHerald that parking has been a major issue for him personally, as many workers from the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard use the spaces around his home.
Some of this parking strain may be alleviated soon as the shipyard continues to expand lots for its workers.
During the presentation, Peterson said he would also like to see more broadband providers in the city, particularly given that he works from home.
Spectrum is currently the main internet provider in the city. CenturyLink also operates in the area, but Peterson said the service isn’t comparable because it can’t offer the same speed. “I have to have really good, reliable internet in order to do my job,” he said. “As far as infrastructure goes for me personally, I actually need broadband more than I need roads.”
Some residents wanted more areas to be included in the plan’s development focus. Currently, much of the development priority is in downtown Marinette and Stephenson Island. Alderperson Mike Wolfe said he would like to see Menekaunee added as a focus.
Other community members agreed. Marinette resident Kathy Korchak told the EagleHerald more specifically that she would like to see better roads, more lighting and systems to mitigate flooding in Menekaunee, the area where she resides. “It’s a nice area, especially with the boat launch, but it can be hard to get to,” she said.
Toward the end of the presentation, Skorik asked Arnold who would be responsible for monitoring the plan once the city adopts it.
Arnold said that cities typically have a municipal planner who would be responsible for doing this. Given that the City of Marinette does not have one, it would have to lay out its own strategy to ensure that the plan is implemented.
Not all residents were convinced with the proposed plans for improvement.
“I don’t think that anything in this plan would affect me,” Peterson said to Arnold after the presentation. “I don’t think it would convince me to stay.”
EagleHerald Staff Writer
MENOMINEE—During its regular meeting Monday, the Menominee City Council avoided discussing several lawsuits the city faces over the way it awarded retail marijuana licenses late this summer.
But during the time for public comments, the council heard from Menominee attorney Randall Philipps, who is representing marijuana retailer Attitude Wellness/Lume in a lawsuit against the city.
As of Thursday, Phillipps said he still wasn’t aware of who would be defending the city in the litigation. The city council members have been named in several lawsuits, along with the city employees who participated in the selection process for marijuana retail licenses.
About the Attitude Wellness/Lume lawsuit, which the EagleHerald reported on Nov. 9, Philipps said before the city council Monday, “We’re hoping it’s not acrimonious. We’re trying to get relief from certain things. We’re surprised to see there’s some lack of knowledge on behalf of some of the city members about that.”
The city hasn’t yet filed a response in writing to Attitude Wellness/Lume’s filing, Philipps said.
“Our action actually now is in default status. The city has not filed an answer to that action and we just wanted to note that for the record,” Philipps said.
Philipps also pointed out the marijuana ordinance’s six-month time period for retailers to be operational from the date their license was issued could be a problem. “The problem that I think a lot of us in the industry are going to have, we’re encountering unanticipated delays. The way the ordinance is written, it leaves it solely as a matter of discretion to the city as to whether or not to extend that timeframe for that construction,” Philipps said.
“We’re not asking for a blank check for our facility, but we’re thinking that perhaps you should look at language of other ordinances around the state that have criteria, for instance, has there been a diligent effort, has there been a delay that’s been caused by something beyond the control of the applicant. We’d be very happy to provide sample language from other municipalities.”
On Thursday, Philipps told the EagleHerald he spoke as a member of the public at the city council meeting. “That was really in response to a comment from one of the council members that appeared in the media. I was there really not in a legal capacity, just to strictly make public comment and let council members know if they have any questions they certainly can contact us.”
During the meeting, the council awarded Spies Library about $9,273 for a professional audio-visual area in the library. The funds will come from a donation the library received from the Klar bequest. Loren William Klar was a 1939 graduate of Menominee High School and served as a combat bomber pilot in World War II with the U.S. Army Air Force and as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve. He is buried in Menominee and left a gift of $3.8 million to the city, including $1.9 million for Spies Library.
The funds approved Tuesday will be used for a new audio-visual room where movies and special programming can be held. Library director Blair Nelson spoke briefly before the council. He hopes the project will double the existing capacity of 35 people in an A/V area by having a wall removed.
Council members approved the use of the funds for the library without opposition. Council members Dennis Klitzke, Josh Jones and Steve Fifarek were absent from the meeting.
The council approved without discussion an ordinance amending the 2021-2022 operating budget. Among the changes to the $12.18 million budget published in the agenda were about $665,751 in additional funds for the $4.6 million wastewater project.
Mayor Jean Stegeman said the annual holiday parade, usually held in early December, was canceled this year for lack of volunteers.