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Menominee County's 13% COVID rate exceeds goal

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—With the Delta variant’s rise in Menominee County, the area’s relatively low vaccination rate for COVID-19 is becoming a larger concern, the public health department said Tuesday.

Menominee County’s seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate was 13% as of Tuesday, compared with 11% as of Sept. 16, said Mike Snyder, health officer/administrator at Public Health of Delta & Menominee Counties.

It’s lower than the 15% positivity rate for the Upper Peninsula but higher than the 13% positivity rate for Michigan.

“We want to see that positivity rate at 3% or lower, so we’re quite a ways from our goal,” Snyder said, noting that many people in Menominee are going to CVS for COVID tests but the lab results are reported to the county.

As of Oct. 11, Public Health tallied 2,428 lab-confirmed COVID cases, 703 probable cases of COVID-19 and 44 deaths in Menominee County. “If anything, the actual number of cases in Menominee would actually be higher due to some people being asymptomatic or some deciding not to get tests or using a home test kit and those don’t get reported” to the county, Snyder said.

Even if people have already had COVID, it’s important for them to be vaccinated to prevent a recurrence, said Dr. Robert Yin, a retired gastroenterologist from Escanaba who now works for Public Health.

The COVID-19 vaccination rate of 48% for this area is lower than other parts of the state. Vaccines are available by appointment Thursdays at the Public Health office in Menominee and at CVS.

The COVID booster for those at high-risk will be available today (Wednesday) from 9 a.m. to 3:30 Central Time at the Pullman House/Whistle Stop Restaurant, N2190 US 41 in Menominee.

“What we’re seeing is the younger population not being vaccinated at the same rates as older people,” Snyder said. While a vaccine for those under 12 isn’t available yet, those ages 12 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, he said.

About 17% of those ages 12 to 15 are vaccinated, Snyder said, compared with 71% of those 65 to 74. The reason for the difference is the shorter length of time the vaccine has been offered to the younger group. Vaccines were given first to older adults and those in high-risk categories.

“Younger people tend to be a healthier population,” Snyder said. When younger people come down with COVID, often the severity of the case is less than it might be for an older adult.

Vaccines and boosters are important to combatting the spread of COVID, Yin said. “Vaccines are extremely advantageous. They have an over-90 percent rate of prevention of COVID,” he said.

Boosters are designed to sustain the antibodies needed to fight COVID in older adults and people at high risk, such as those over 85, front-line workers, and people with asthma, cancer or other diseases or who are taking immune-suppressing medication, he said.

While a COVID vaccine for children younger than 12 is not yet available, Yin recommends children get vaccinated when the shots become available in this area later this year or in 2022.

Often COVID is spread through families, Yin said. While children might not get a severe case, they could pass it on to someone who is more susceptible. “You have middle-aged people who have not gotten the vaccine, people in their 60s who have not gotten the vaccine. Those are the people who are ending up in the hospital,” Yin said. While Menominee County doesn’t have a hospital, Yin said, in Delta County eight of 25 beds have COVID patients.

This time of year, when flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) also are making some people ill, Yin said, people should also consider getting a flu shot. This year, four different strains of influenza are expected to hit. The symptoms for COVID, RSV and influenza are similar, Yin said.

“All of these diseases have similar presentations,” Yin said. “It’s a difficult thing for the doctor to distinguish between all of these and figure out which disease it is.”

But in many cases, they are treated the same. Your doctor will probably recommend plenty of fluids to keep you hydrated and plenty of rest. The doctor also might suggest taking a medication for a runny nose. If the illness worsens, patients should return to their physicians to determine if a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia has set in.

RSV primarily affects babies and young children because adults build up antibodies to this disease. Different strains of the virus can cause colds or the flu. COVID also is a virus, but it can weaken the lungs “to the point where they get bacterial pneumonia,” Yin said.

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Crime awareness talks build police-community relations

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MARINETTE—City of Marinette police officers Greg Haemker and Jacob Lindbom visited about 145 Marinette businesses last Wednesday and Thursday in a community outreach effort to inform owners and employees about crime prevention.

The police department launched the Local Business Crime Awareness program in 2018 following a spike in burglaries the previous year. Although the program was put on hold during the worst of the pandemic, Lt. Jeffrey Cate, who leads the Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit, said the department intends for the so-called “business talks” to be an annual occurrence moving forward.

Haemker and Lindbom began Wednesday morning at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) where they were participating in a meet-and-greet with students prior to the business talks. The officers were sitting around a table on tall chairs in a small conference room chatting with Matt Spear, an NWTC student studying Electro-Mechanical Technology (“I still don’t know what it is, but it sounds smart,” Lindbom joked).

There was a bucket of packaged strawberry and chocolate doughnuts on the table and coffee on the back counter.

“I didn’t know Krispy Kreme came in different flavors beside your glazers,” Lindbom said. “See, we’re not experts in doughnuts like everybody says.”

Haemker laughed at the joke. “Yeah, we can’t just go into a room and be like, ‘oh, that’s raspberry.’”

Lindbom reported that members of the NWTC Auto Club and several nursing students had dropped in to chat.

Around 9 a.m., foot traffic had died down as students went to their classes. Lindbom and Haemker left NWTC and reconvened at the police department to figure out a game plan for visiting businesses.

While Haemker worked on some unknown task at his computer, Lindbom organized documents for each business at the breakroom table. Haemker has participated in business talks in the past, but Lindbom said it was his first time taking part in the program. Being a Marinette native, however, he knows the community well. “I went to a local elementary school, middle school, high school, then on to UW-Marinette before switching to Green Bay,” he said. “I’ve never left, and I have no plans to leave.”

Lindbom said that crime prevention measures are important even in a quiet community like the City of Marinette.

“Some people think, ‘well it’s little Marinette, nothing’s going to happen here,’ but I can attest to the fact that that’s not true,” Lindbom said.

In 2010, Lindbom was one of the Marinette High School students who was held hostage at gunpoint by 15-year-old student. “So yes, things can happen in little Marinette,” he said.

While Lindbom hasn’t conducted crime awareness talks before, he has been working on a separate project to photograph and document the entrances to local businesses. “The pictures are going to be in our system, and we can pull them up here or in the squad cars so we have a better idea of how to approach in a tactical manner for serious incidents,” he said.

Haemker and Lindbom got in their squad cars and agreed to meet first at the Waterfront Store on Ogden Street in Menekaunee. Haemker parked in the gas station lot, walked into the store and approached a woman in a pink shirt and green crocs who was on her knees restocking some shelves (the woman wished to remain anonymous). Lindbom entered the store a moment later.

Haemker handed the woman a Local Business Crime Awareness pamphlet—which has information about crime alert networks in Wisconsin, contacts for Crime Prevention Officers and other particulars pertaining to crime prevention—and told her that he was conducting crime awareness talks.

Haemker and Lindbom split up after visiting the Waterfront Store. Back in the squad car, Haemker said that people are sometimes confused or think it’s strange when officers conduct business talks. “Some people are like, ‘what’s he doing here,’ but then we get other people who are genuinely interested,” he said. “You won’t know unless you try.”

He explained that the police department tries to get the contact information of at least three keyholders, or people who have the authority to open and close a business after hours. These keyholders are the people police will contact if they respond to an alarm after hours.

“We have to update that information quite often because employees leave,” he said. “Sometimes we call a person and they’ll say, ‘well, I haven’t worked for that place in a year.’”

Haemker navigated down University Drive and pulled up in front of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. A smiling older man who asked not to be named immediately came out to greet Haemker and led him inside the church to a small room with bookshelves and a table decorated with an autumn floral arrangement. A woman, Joanne Roland, walked up from the back of the church to join the conversation.

Haemker handed them a pamphlet and explained the purpose of his visit. “This is a place of worship, a Church of God, but crime still happens,” he said.

Roland said the church had taken preventative measures and installed some cameras and new locks a few years ago. The church didn’t, however, have up-to-date keyholder information.

“I’m not sure they really knew what I was talking about when I asked for their key holder information,” Haemker said later. “Fortunately, they do a good job locking up.”

“We really appreciate what you do, you have a very difficult job,” Roland said to Haemker before he got back on the road.

Heading north on Pierce Avenue, Haemker stopped at the Marinette Cycle Center. The shop’s owner, John Haines, leaned his elbow on the glass register counter as he listened to Haemker’s talk. He seemed particularly interested in the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network, an informational network facilitated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice that sends notices to registered individuals via email and text about crime in the area.

“I’ll definitely look into this,” Haines said. “I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t sign up.”

In the squad car again after visiting the bike shop, Haemker said that when he has extra time at night, he often checks businesses to see if they have open doors.

“You wouldn’t believe the number I have found open,” he said. “If I check 50 businesses at night, I bet you three or four of them are open, it happens all the time.”

Haemker said it’s important to have the contact information of businesses during these checks.

“We always check to make sure that there isn’t anyone in there who isn’t supposed to be in there, and then we’ll call the business to say, ‘hey, just so you know we found this door open and we locked it up and we checked to make sure no one was inside.”

Pulling up near the police department, Haemker put his squad car into park.

“Alright,” he said, “only a hundred more to go.”

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Historic Preservation Commission planning additional monument restorations

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MARINETTE—Following the success of the recently completed Isaac Stephenson statue restoration, the City of Marinette Historic Preservation Commission discussed last Monday other potential monument repair projects throughout the city.

The commission honed in on three monuments in particular—the Queen Marinette and First Sawmill monuments on Riverside Avenue and the Soldier monument on Stephenson Island.

According to Alderperson and Historic Preservation Commission Member Jason Flatt’s “A Brief History of Riverside Avenue,” the Queen Marinette and First Sawmill monuments were both erected by Frank Noyes, the son of Eagle Editor Luther Noyes, in 1940 and 1931, respectively.

Flatt said the First Sawmill monument on Riverside Avenue, in particular, is “looking pretty rough.” Some of the screws that attach the plaque to its block of granite are missing or coming loose, according to Flatt.

The monument, which stands across from Raymond Street, commemorates the location where William Farnsworth and Charles Brush built the first sawmill on the Menominee River in 1832. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, Farnsworth was a pioneer fur trader and lumberman from Vermont who was also the second husband of Queen Marinette. Brush, who was a Detroit native, seems to have been a lesser historical figure, and few details are recorded about him in documents mentioning the sawmill.

The Queen Marinette monument, although not in an extreme state of disrepair, has developed a patina and could benefit from some attention, according to Flatt. “The Queen Marinette monument doesn’t look rough, but it doesn’t look rough in the way that the Ike Stephenson statue didn’t used to look rough either,” he said.

Queen Marinette, the namesake of the city and county, was a woman with French, Chippewa and Menominee ancestry born in northeast Wisconsin in 1793, according to Beverly Hayward Johnson’s “Queen Marinette: Spirit of Survival on the Great Lakes Frontier.” She was a skilled trader and adviser who was also known for her charitable work with local residents.

Historic Preservation Commission Member Mark Davenport said that the base of the Soldier Memorial on Stephenson Island is in need of repair. Davenport, who also owns the construction company MariMar, Inc. and was involved in the Isaac Stephenson statue restoration, said he has been corresponding with LaCourt Concrete Owner Chuck LaCourt regarding the foundation and the possibility of adding a layer of granite over it to reduce the need for future maintenance. Isaac Stephenson presented the Soldier Memorial to the City of Marinette on Memorial Day of 1917 to commemorate soldiers from Marinette County who had perished during the Civil War.

Historic Preservation Commission Chairperson Dan Kallgren said Milwaukee-based objects conservator Cricket Harbeck, who undertook the Stephenson statue restoration, will be coming back to the city to do a final report on the Stephenson statue project. Kallgren said he had mentioned the other monuments to her and believes she may take a look at them during her trip.