Veteran observers of Marinette County government — and to some degree city government — will attest that local government officials have been kicking the can down the street for decades when it comes to the tourism industry. County boards and city councils have undergone a change of voices. New faces have represented county board chairmen and city mayors. Sometimes professionals in the field of tourism were hired to sell their ideas on how to do business.

Perhaps tourism has been the most over-discussed and under-achieved segment of local government for years.

For some reason we feel the latest movement at the county government level has the most potential of any plan we’ve seen for a long time. It’s going to cost money, require a lot of hard work with a heavy dose of cooperation from participating parties. And it will take time and require patience. But the building blocks are being put into place.

At its Feb. 25 meeting, the county board voted to implement three new positions to spur economic and community development and increase tourism by hiring a development and tourism director and program assistant in the Administration Department, and create a program assistant position in the Facilities and Parks Department. Not all county board members were in favor of the concept. There was considerable debate on the issue in committee settings and on the county board floor.

We understand the concerns of some supervisors on how the three positions will mesh in terms of duties and responsibilities.

“The three positions will hopefully fit together and complement each other,” explained County Administrator John Lefebvre who will be charged with the responsibility of making the scheme work.

The program assistant position in the Facilities and Parks Department will be funded by the county’s contingency fund. The other two positions will be funded by economic development and tourism funds the first year.

Long-serving supervisor Mark Anderson (two stints of service), county board chairman, is a strong proponent of the three-position hiring, saying the system was needed 20 years ago. Anderson, who is not seeking re-election to the county board, believes Lefebvre is the right person to be setting up the new system.

Anderson hurled a brick at his colleagues because there hasn’t been any aggressive action on developing county parks. He believes the county has missed the train too many times in the past for not promoting the county’s untapped parks system.

The debate stage will now be put in storage. The county board has drawn up a scheme that it believes is workable and doable. We urge critics to be patient as Lefebvre and his staff put the wheels in motion. Tourism is a big business in Wisconsin and in other states. Competition is rough. Our county doesn’t have to invest millions of dollars in developing tourist attractions. It has an abundance of natural resources to use as a launchpad and build from it.

We see this setup as the county’s most promising venture in years. It’s time to go to work.