The Samuels Group, under the direction of Kurt Berner, Vice President, was approved by the Waushara County Board of Supervisors as the architectural firm to develop a plan for the Buildings Renovations Project. The Samuels Group has offices in Wausau and West Des Moines, IA. The approval was granted at the regular meeting of the board on Tuesday, July 21 at the Waushara County Courthouse, Wautoma.
Berner said he will have the contract for the county in approximately a week and it will take 8 to 12 weeks to finish a proposal, as he will meet with the committee and department heads. He also said that The Samuels Group would design and oversee the project and seek competitive bids. He also added he would work with the bond council for the cost of financing.
When asked if local contractors could be used for the project he said that their company can break it into small bid projects, but noted that bonding is sometimes an issue. As far as experience, The Samuels Groups has recently worked with six different counties including Green Lake, Vilas, and Calumet.
County Administrator Robert Sivick said that he realizes these are tough economic times, but added that the building project should have been taken on decades ago. It will be an expensive project but noted the county can afford it, even though they will be going into debt. The interest rates are down and in Waushara County the debt $173 per person and in other counties like Green Lake and Marquette it is over $700 per person. “The county can easily absorb the cost and it will be paid over decades. The county has a $44 million budget and the project could be $30 million,” he said. He noted that the project would be paid over decades and he used a mortgage on a home as an example - where you pay for it over 30 years.
Patti Wohlfeil, Public Health Officer/Director for the Waushara County Public Health Department, gave her 2019 Annual Report and told the board that in a typical year they have over 300 cases and with COVID-19 this year in June they had 1500 cases.
Last year they did 1793 vaccines and their Seal a Smile included 508 screen, 85 special needs, 489 varnish applications, and 3 youth that requiring urgent dental needs. There were 587 vision testing for students, 660 flu shots at Certified Based Residential Housing, 300 less than in 2018 because of the timeline to get the vaccine. The department visited area-dining centers and did 228 blood pressure checks and added that the foot care visits have increased.
She said the top five causes of death in Waushara County were cancer, heart disease, myocardial infraction, lung disease, and Alzheimer’s/dementia. Wohlfeil said that their department participated in public Narcan training to help address the Opioid abuse issue in the county.
Supervisor John Jarvis asked Wohlfeil about the opening of schools and if she had any recommendations. She said that they have been meeting monthly with the three county schools, Tri-County, Wautoma, and Wild Rose. “The schools would like to see the kids come back and they will do the best we can to mask, sanitize, etc.,” she said. She also said discussion included: virtual, part virtual – part in school, and in school.
She added that in May there were two COVID-19 cases and to date there are 57, the county went from 18 to 57 in one month and they are getting 1-3 positive cases each day. She did add that of those two to three required hospitalization and most of the other positives mainly needed support of their basic needs.
Heidi Buntrock, Waushara County 4-H Advisor, gave a review of how 4-H is alive and well even through the pandemic and not having a county fair this year. She said that beginning March 17 she has been working from home and has provided STEM kits in bins outside of libraries and the 14 clubs have been meeting virtually thru Zoom. She added there has been nearly a 100 percent attendance at these meetings.
Buntrock said she continues to work with clubs on programs such as the Pen Pal Program she developed with Winnebago County, families doing roadside cleanup, members writing notes and sending cards to shut-ins, and now has a photo challenge underway.
She said that 4-H is an education and it is a year round project, not just for the 4-5 days at the fair. This year there are 306 enrolled in 4-H compared to 295 last year.
She also added the new $175,000 4-H Food Stand at the Waushara County Fairgrounds is nearing completion. The Waushara County Fair Board contributed $150,000 to the project and a fundraiser is underway to pay the balance of the construction and the cost of equipment and appliances. To date they have raised $34,000. Buntrock said the building would be available to rent for other organizations.
In other business, the board of supervisors approved the Community Development Block Grant with the condition that Marquette County would also buy in. Ruth Zouski, Corporate Counsel, explained the advantages and disadvantages to the supervisors before the board. She told the board there are presently 23 loans, 3 in active collection that could be paid off before the buyout, and two that may be written off. She said the added value of buying in to the CDBG would be a grant from the state in the amount of over a half million to be used for a specific county project.
The first project Zouski wanted to submit was the EMS/Senior Dining Center in Poy Sippi but that failed the poverty line criteria set up by the state. The new projects under consideration for the grant would be handicap accessible improvements to the Waushara County Parks or a storm shelter at the Waushara County Fairgrounds.
The board also approved adding an additional employee to the Highway Department, a zone change for Lawrence Gohlke, extending the Emergency Declaration Resolution, and appointing Jan Novak to the Human Services Committee.
The supervisors decided to add public comments back onto the agenda for August. They have been off the agenda since April due to the pandemic.
The next regular meeting of the Waushara County Board of Supervisors will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 18 at the courthouse in Wautoma.