Oconto County Board returns to its headquarters after two years

·3 min read
Supervisor Diane Nichols sits at the front left corner of the front of desks inside the newly remodeled Oconto County Board Room on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Because of the pandemic, the last full meeting held there was in February 2020, with the remodeling completed over the past several weeks.
Supervisor Diane Nichols sits at the front left corner of the front of desks inside the newly remodeled Oconto County Board Room on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Because of the pandemic, the last full meeting held there was in February 2020, with the remodeling completed over the past several weeks.

OCONTO – For the first time in two years, Oconto County supervisors returned to their regular meeting site Thursday following the renovation and expansion of the County Board Room.

“We start the year with a new board room and a new administrator,” Chair Paul Bednarik said. He was referring to new county administrator Erik Pritzl, who started Jan. 3.

The room was expanded by removing a small conference room on the side and taking a portion of the offices on the other side. That added roughly 500 square feet, said county maintenance engineer Scott Krueger.

“It’s a night-and-day difference from how tight it was before,” he said.

Board members now have more room between each of the three rows of new tables, which provide for somewhat more space between each supervisor.

Some of the three rows of padded pews, which were positioned behind the old desks of board members, were shortened to fit into the new space. Some seats are now on the back wall with other seats on a side wall. The last pew was delivered Jan. 14, Krueger said.

Erik Pritzl, the new county administrator for Oconto County, is seen at the Jan. 20, 2022, meeting of the board, his first board meeting as the chief executive of the county. At left is Corporation Counsel Beth Ellingson.
Erik Pritzl, the new county administrator for Oconto County, is seen at the Jan. 20, 2022, meeting of the board, his first board meeting as the chief executive of the county. At left is Corporation Counsel Beth Ellingson.

The walls were painted in “Agreeable Gray,” according to Deputy County Clerk Kathy Goldschmidt.

The room isn’t quite finished. Yet to be installed are three monitors on which to display votes, maps or documents, along with new speakers and sound system, and some door handles.

Construction started the first week of December. The general contractor for the project was IEI, De Pere. The total cost was about $140,000, Krueger said.

Bednarik credited Public Property Committee Chair Doug McMahon, Goldschmidt and County Clerk Kim Pytleski on how the project turned out.

“They did a super job,” he said.

The County Board last held a “normal” regular meeting in the room in February 2020. In March, with the coronavirus pandemic just getting underway, they met in the LEC conference room, where there was more room so supervisors could sit farther apart.

Most supervisors attended the April 2020 meeting by Zoom or telephone, though Bednarik, Vice Chair Al Sleeter and then-county administrator Kevin Hamann were in the board room.

HHS director recognized

Mike Reimer, who retired Jan. 14 as director of the Health and Human Services Department of Oconto County, was recognized at the Jan. 20, 2022, meeting of the Oconto County Board for his more than 32 years of service to the county. Behind Reimer is his successor, Scott Shackleford.
Mike Reimer, who retired Jan. 14 as director of the Health and Human Services Department of Oconto County, was recognized at the Jan. 20, 2022, meeting of the Oconto County Board for his more than 32 years of service to the county. Behind Reimer is his successor, Scott Shackleford.

Mike Reimer, the director of the county Health and Human Services Department for the past five years, has retired.

He was recognized for 32½ years of service to the county.

Al Sleeter, chair of the HHS Board, noted Reimer’s accomplishments, including his efforts during the changes to the state Family Care program, his work in the aftermath of the windstorm in 2019, and for being one of the creators of the Aging and Disability Resource Centers.

Deputy HHS director Judy Armagost thanked Reimer for his dedication and leadership of the department, the county’s largest in terms of expenditures, for his efforts that provided enhanced services to clients and through the challenges the county faced during his tenure.

Reimer said one of those challenges was the large rural footprint of the county without a large population center found in adjacent counties.

“We’re kind of alone in the middle here, so we have had do a lot of things for ourselves,” he said. “The HHS has to have the moxie to be able to do things without having providers.”

Scott Shackleford, Reimer’s successor, thanked Reimer for “laying the foundation and groundwork with your management team.”

Reimer, who lives in De Pere, began his career in 1986 as a social worker in juvenile court and foster care in Menominee County. He then served as a child protective services social worker for Oconto County in 1989, moving to a clinical therapist post from 1992 to 2002, when he became community services manager for the department, managing the mental health and disability and adult protective services.

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FOR MORE OCONTO COUNTY NEWS: Check out our website!

Contact Kent Tempus at (920) 354-6075 or ktempus@gannett.com.

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This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Oconto County Board returns to its headquarters after two years

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