MARINETTE — A proposal by Marinette County Administrator John Lefebvre to create a program assistant position in the Facilities and Parks Department to assist with the marketing and development of county-owned and -operated facilities and recreational activities moved a step closer toward becoming a reality Friday.

The county board’s Infrastructure Committee voted 5-0 to recommend to the Administrative Committee the creation of the position with funding from the county’s tourism and marketing budget, effective immediately. 

Lefebvre said his proposal was endorsed last month by the Development Committee. If approved by the Administrative Committee next month it would advance to the full county board.

“There was one person opposed,” he said. “Whether those supervisors still have that same opinion, I don’t know. I believe they do. There’s discussion behind the scenes from different individuals that they would prefer that we not use any money from tourism to fund this position. I think that’s probably the biggest concern.”

The county board voted in February 2018 to contract with the City of Marinette for tourism promotion and marketing. It has been without a tourism director of its own since Butch Kostreva resigned his part-time position in November 2017. Lefebvre said in October of last year that he had notified the city “that it is not my intent to bring the contract back to the county board for renewal.”

“We have $125,000 earmarked for tourism and there appears to be a concern that if we use some of that money from the tourism budget to fund this position that we’re going to be taking something away from tourism,” LeFebvre said. “For the past three years we’ve had about $125,00 (earmarked for tourism).

“We only made $115,000 available to the City of Marinette because we thought and still believe that there are certain things maybe they wouldn’t do for us from a tourism standpoint that the county might want to do if something might come up. $55,000 of the $115,000 was to be used by the city for salaries and fringes, $60,000 of it was to be used for expenses.”

Lefebvre said with his plan, the county would have $65,000 to fund a fulltime position for marketing the county’s assets, and that with $55,0000 “we were paying for half a position with the city.”

“So from a money standpoint we’re getting a fulltime position to concentrate on marketing our assets,” explained Lefebvre, who said previously there seemed to be a “disconnect” between he tourism side of things and the manager side in promoting the county’s assets.

“I think we can solve that by putting this position together to put the person right with the people taking care of those assets,” he added. “That’s a benefit for us.”

Lefebvre also proposed last month to the Development Committee that he “with the assistance of his executive assistant will coordinate with various partners (Crivitz Recreation Associations, City of Marinette Tourism, Niagara Business Association, Wausaukee Business Association, Cougar Country Business Association, Crivitz Business Association, Goodman-Armstrong Creek Area Business, snowmobile and ATV/UTV clubs, local municipalities, Marinette and Peshtigo chamber of commerces, Travel Wisconsin, private businesses, etc.) in efforts to promote and market the county.

“I’ve had multiple discussions with the mayor (Steve Genisot) about partnering with the City of Marinette, how we can partner with them on specific things,” he said. 

Lefebvre said: “We will ultimately attempt to migrate this tourism from my control to Facilities and Parks.” He noted that about $30,000 of the $60,000 in tourism funds remaining after the creation of the program assistant position “is already spoken for this year through commitments the county has to market itself, including magazines.

He said: “We need to concentrate on marketing our county on social media and in publications and do a better job on our website keeping things up to date and having better signage in the parks.”

He said: “We need a person to do more than just tourism. We need a person to be concentrating on development as well.”

Supervisor Gilbert Engel said he’s very happy that the county is looking to market its assets itself.

“I have reservations about this but I’m going to go along with this because we have to do something,” said Supervisor Shirley Kaufman. “If we keep on waiting we’re not going to get anything done. I’d like to see how this develops, we can always add to this and change things.”