EagleHerald Staff Writer
MENOMINEE—Menominee police officers won’t be expected to pay for their own weapons through payroll deductions in the future.
After months of discussion on how best to equip the city’s police officers, the Menominee City Council Oct. 18 approved the purchase of 16 Sig Sauer rifles at $2,500 each.
The new rifles are expected to provide a larger range and better accuracy than those most officers are currently using, Botbyl said.
The patrol rifles officers use are becoming more important because of the growing number of active shooter crimes in many places in the United States, he stated in the procurement request document.
At its regular meeting, the city council also approved the purchase of a law enforcement drone with an updated camera system through funds donated by Patty and Burt Shuring. The $6,522 Mavik 2 Enterprise Series 1 Unmanned Aerial System will be paid for from their donation. The new drone has a higher resolution camera for enhanced photos and video for investigations, search and rescue, disaster response and other law enforcement and fire department needs.
The council also approved the $7,372 purchase of an MSA Evolution 6000+ Thermal Imaging Camera for the fire department using a $5,000 donation from Fincantieri Marinette Marine.
“We want to be sure we have the best equipment. It’s part of our mission for the department that we’re going to provide our officers with the best training and equipment possible,” Botbyl said at a September Public Safety/Public Works Committee meeting, where the $40,000 rifle project was discussed.
The police department had over 1,100 calls of service in August, up from 750 in the same month a year ago, Botbyl said at the Sept. 7 Public Safety/Public Works Committee. “We’re not getting any less busy. Crimes are not getting any less violent,” he said.
Most officers go through their 25- or 30-year careers without having to use a weapon, he said. “That’s how it should be. But when you need it, you want to make sure it’s working,” Botbyl said.
Menominee police currently purchase their own patrol rifles through payroll deductions when they join the force and take them with them when they leave, Botbyl said. In deciding whether the city should foot the bill for the rifles, council members considered how important it is for the city to maintain control over the weapons police officers use. Many officers want to keep their rifles, Botbyl said.
But others questioned why the officers should be expected to pay for the weapons.
Council Member Steve Fifarek said the city should purchase the weapons instead of asking officers to buy them through payroll deductions. “I can see where we’d want to keep it here in house instead of traveling with the officer. If the officer moves away, then that goes away and our arsenal is one short,” Fifarek said.
By allowing officers to purchase their patrol rifles over time, Council Member Dennis Klitzke said, “We’re financing it. The only cost is financing….The city’s not buying them.”
“We’re becoming a bank to finance. I guess I just don’t agree with that,” Fifarek said. “Instead of purchasing it on their own, we buy them. We keep them.”
Council Member Doug Robinson said, “Then there’s no payback to the city.”
Fifarek likened it to buying a squad car for officers to drive. “I’m really in support of giving our officers everything they need. I just have a hard time grabbing that with the rifle leaving us.”
EagleHerald Staff Writer
MENOMINEE—One hundred and fifty years ago, as people were recovering from the great fires of Oct. 8, 1871, a group in Menominee formed the first fire department here on Dec. 22, 1871.
The first fire station at 414 1st Street opened in 1872, said Michael Kaufman, executive director of the Menominee County Historical Society. Two other stations would be built soon after on 23rd Avenue and at 15th Street and 10th Avenue to be closer to neighborhoods because horse-drawn pumpers could only go so fast.
To celebrate its 150-year anniversary, the Menominee Fire Department will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 2511 10th St., which is the department’s current home. It also was located at 905 10th St. in 1925 when the department began to rely on motorized vehicles.
On Saturday, the fire department will offer station tours, historical information, a bouncy house, and food and drinks. A fire scenario presentation will begin at 1:30 p.m. in a fire safety house where firefighters will demonstrate how they respond to a call.
October is fire prevention month, and the event also will provide lessons on fire safety. Parking will available at the city hall parking lot and in the Family Video parking lot.
As equipment has evolved, the Menominee Fire Department has taken on a wider variety of emergencies, including Emergency Medical Service.
“Our rescue efforts have expanded. We do ice water rescue, water rescue. We do technical rescue, a little bit of HAZMAT (for hazardous materials exposure),” Bebo said. “We respond to EMS (Emergency Medical Service) calls within the city of Menominee,” he said.
The department began running EMS calls on June 1, 2017, and typically gets called to respond to medical issues like shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and cardiac issues, Bebo said. “We’re trained to the first-responder level,” he said.
Eleven firefighters plus Fire Chief Petersen work at the Menominee fire station at 2511 10th St. in shifts of four firefighters. They work in cycles of 24 hours on duty, 48 hours off. While on duty, the firefighters sleep at the fire station.
They start the day with chores at 6:30 a.m. when one crew goes home and another crew starts. “We clean the station from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., and have some breakfast. Then we begin our workday,” Bebo said. Chores also include daily equipment checks. On Saturday, a more thorough inspection is performed.
Routine calls come in throughout the day, and the crews also are assigned tasks, such as training, fire tours for local businesses, and work around the station. “We get some time later on in the evening to work out. Then we have supper,” Bebo said. “We sleep at the fire department so we spend our nights here to 6:30 the next morning.”
The fire department has two engines, a rescue truck, a ladder truck and a brush truck. It also has two pickup trucks and two boats.
When a call comes in for Menominee Township or Ingallston, the City of Menominee’s fire department often helps out.
“We do have an automatic aid agreement with Menominee Ingallston and Menominee Township that goes up to Birch Creek Road, No. 6 Road,” Bebo said.
“If there’s a structure fire or a grass fire that is impending on a structure or a vehicle fire with a life in danger, then we will respond out to No. 6 road,” he said.
For water emergencies, Marinette Fire Department might respond as well “if there’s multiple patients or if we need assistance finding a boat in distress,” Bebo said. The two cities also work together on large fires or emergencies through a mutual-aid agreement.
EagleHerald Staff Writer
MARINETTE/PESHTIGO—The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) updated community members Wednesday regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination mitigation efforts in the City of Marinette, the Town of Peshtigo and surrounding communities during its 16th public listening session on the topic.
Earlier this month, the DNR selected envADR President Robert Olian as a facilitator for the upcoming water discussions between the Town of Peshtigo, Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) and other stakeholders. During these meetings, the parties will discuss long-term water supply options for residents impacted by PFAS contamination from the historic firefighting activities of Tyco Fire Products (Tyco), a subsidiary of JCI.
DNR Remediation & Redevelopment Program Director Christine Haag said Olian held a kickoff meeting Tuesday with stakeholders to discuss logistics, timeframes and other groundwork that needs to be laid before the discussions can occur.
Olian will also talk with individual participants over the phone in the near future, according to Haag. She said the water discussions are tentatively scheduled to begin the week of Dec. 6, over two months past the Town of Peshtigo’s desired kickoff date.
Well sampling in expanded investigation area
DNR Emerging Contaminants Program Coordinator Bridget Kelly said the DNR has completed sampling of drinking water wells in JCI/Tyco’s expanded site investigation area—a process that began in Fall of 2020—and is currently in the process of looking through the results. The expanded site investigation area is bounded by the City of Marinette’s municipality boundary to the north, the Bay of Green Bay to the east, Leaf Road to the south and Pleasant View Road to the west.
Kelly said the DNR will continue providing water to impacted residents as it analyzes results from these samples.
City of Marinette biosolids landspreading fields
Kelly also discussed the status of PFAS-contaminated biosolids in various landspreading fields throughout Marinette County, an investigation that she said is still in its early stages.
Biosolids are the product of a treatment process that separates liquids from solids in wastewater, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The solids are then further treated to produce nutrient-rich biosolids, which are often used for agricultural purposes.
PFAS from Tyco’s historic activities contaminated wastewater in the City of Marinette, which was then used to make biosolids that were spread on several farm fields in the Marinette area. The DNR sent JCI/Tyco a responsible party letter in July 2019 and asked the company to investigate 61 fields in the area.
JCI/Tyco completed a round of drinking water well sampling associated with the investigation in December 2020. The DNR sent JCI/Tyco a notice of noncompliance on Sept. 14, however, because the company had not initiated a site investigation outside of the well sampling. In the notice, Kelly said the DNR also asked JCI/Tyco to submit a site investigation work plan and continue monitoring water well sampling in the area.
Groundwater Extraction & Treatment System (GETS)
Construction of the GETS, a system that is meant to contain and filter PFAS-contaminated water, began in late August. Currently, JCI’s contractors are building access roads in preparation for constructing the building on Tyco property that will house equipment for the system. The contractors are also installing monitoring and extraction wells and beginning horizontal drilling for the installation of pipes that will convey contaminated water to the treatment building.
During this construction, the contractors will be excavating soil and groundwater that may be contaminated with PFAS. The DNR approved Oct. 6 JCI/Tyco’s plan for managing possible contaminated materials.
JCI originally expected to start up the GETS by the end of 2021. DNR Complex Sites Project Manager Alyssa Sellwood announced, however, that JCI has pushed back this timeline to the beginning of 2022 at the earliest and possibly as late as Spring because of supply chain delays. In the interim, Sellwood said JCI will be collecting baseline monitoring samples to gather data on the starting conditions of the contaminated water.
Tyco continues to hold bi-weekly office hours with GETS Senior Engineer Kirk Craig for residents to ask questions about the GETS construction. The next office hour will be held Nov. 3 at noon, Zoom ID 836 9006 1173.
Sellwood emphasized that JCI/Tyco is responsible for keeping the community informed about mitigation options and efforts and their associated risks.
JCI/Tyco has made several efforts on this front.
Sellwood pointed attendees to tycomarinette.com, the public website that Tyco created to post announcements and updates regarding the PFAS contamination. Community members can also find information on the website to sign up for email announcements and contact a Tyco representative via phone or email.
Sellwood noted that some residents do not have internet access. She said the DNR sent JCI/Tyco a letter Sept. 9 asking the company to find solutions that would keep those with limited internet access informed about activities pertaining to PFAS contamination.
The DNR’s September letter to JCI/Tyco also emphasized the need for better risk communication, particularly pertaining to the surface water contamination advisory signs that JCI/Tyco had designed and installed in August 2019 in about 20 locations around water-drainage ditches in the community.
Sellwood said that residents have complained that the plain, black and white signs do not adequately alert people to the presence of PFAS in the water. Furthermore, some said the language on the sign is unclear, particularly to individuals who are not familiar with the area’s PFAS issue.
The DNR suggested in its letter to JCI/Tyco possible improvements to these advisory signs, such as adding more sign locations so that they are visible from any approach direction. Toxicologist Brita Kilburg-Basnyat and Health Educator Amanda Koch from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services also collaborated with the DNR on an improved look for a new sign, which features bright colors, graphics and concise, straightforward information.
The DNR requested in its letter that JCI/Tyco install new advisory signs no later than Nov. 9.