Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kewaunee County Positive Movement, September 3, 2015
Much of my reporting on Kewaunee County has focused on the major issues facing our County with the top two being the challenges we have with groundwater and surface water and the financial well-being of the County.  Amidst the challenges, we are making headway and are actually setting the standard in some areas for other counties to follow.

I am going to focus on two Departments in this report, Public Health and Land Information.  Steve Hanson heads up the Land Information Department and Cindy Kinnard heads the Health Department.  Both are doing an excellent job for the county.

In addition to having the responsibility of maintaining all land records for the county, Steve Hanson has taken the initiative to move Kewaunee County ahead utilizing current technology to display all the information he has amassed in the county database on property.   Other than attorneys and title companies who use land information on a daily basis, very little is known about the work Steve has done for the county.

Implements of Husbandry
As you may know, the State recently changed the weight rules for IOH (Implements of Husbandry) also known as Farm Equipment.  The new rules allow individual townships to set the weight allowed on each township road.  This was done to provide more control at local level to control weights for both county and town roads.

This, potentially, was a huge problem.  How to communicate this information on a timely basis?  How do you coordinate the activities between the townships, the manure haulers, the farmers, and law enforcement?  Steve stepped up and developed an online tool that answered all those questions.  By the way, he is the first in the state to do so. 

So for example, let’s take a road that traverses two or three townships.  Each township has a username and password to access the system and each township can assign weight restrictions to that road.  It could be conceivable, because of the terrain that a particular road runs through, that different weight restrictions could be assigned to a stretch of road by the individual townships.    

In collaboration with Ruekert-Mielke, a technology vendor used by Kewaunee County, Steve developed a smart phone app that can be used by all parties (Townships/Farmers/Haulers/Law Enforcement) to handle this information.  So, utilizing the example above, the individual townships would log into this app and would code their weight data for each road.  By doing this, they establish a color coded system that identifies weights for the various roads and the farmers, haulers and law enforcement personnel can then access this information.  The farmers/haulers then plan their routes and receive the hauling permits from the individual townships.  It is conceivable that eventually the entire permitting process could be completed online.

You can view this IOH mapping by clicking on "Implements of Husbandry Map" under Quick Links on Kewaunee County's home page at

GIS (Geographic Information System)
This is a feature that I personally enjoy using.  You are used to using the printed version of a plat book?  Well, now it is available online utilizing HTML 5 both for your home computer and a smart phone and it provides a whole lot more information!  I am going to focus on the smart phone app that has been put in place by Steve for Kewaunee County.  This app is very similar to a navigational system in your auto.  It allows you to view the map as you are driving through any of the roads in the county and to identify any piece of property you are passing.

Here is how you can use this app on your smart phone or computer.  Go to   In the left column click on Land Records.  This will bring you to the Land Records Portal.  Go to the lower center of the page and you will click on Public GIS Map (HTML5) link.

Now you will see a map of Kewaunee County.  In the lower left hand corner you will see a circular icon and when you click on it, will allow you to either Find Me, Track Me, or Follow Me.  In this example we will use Find Me.  Providing your GPS is turned on, your location will appear on the map, then by pinching the graphic you can zoom in.  By zooming in, you will see individual land tracts listed by number.  By clicking on any of these links the owners name will appear along with address and tax and assessment info.  If you use the Follow Me link, your GPS will link you to the specific location you are traveling through and you will be able to see all that information on each land tract.

Lincoln Township WGNHS Groundwater and Bedrock Mapping Project
Eventually this project will be expanded to all the townships in the county.  Currently, in conjunction with Lincoln Township, the county is contributing $10,000 from our land information office fund balance, and $10,000 from our 2016 Wisconsin Land Information Program base budget grant money toward this project. 

This groundwater and bedrock mapping project will be done by the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.  It will utilize well-drilling log data along with subsurface sonar data that is collected as part of this project.  In combination with our existing soils and LIDAR GIS data, the data collected and the products produced as a result of this project should give us a much clearer and more detailed picture of the karst topography that exists in the Town of Lincoln.

Long term, this new GIS database could provide data to a farmer applying liquid manure on a field.  By accessing the soil depth picture while driving across a field the amount of manure spread could be directly linked to the applying machinery. 

Public Health
About a year ago, Cindy Kinnard was promoted to head up the County Public Health Department and has done a great job leading that department.  A number of new initiatives have been undertaken by this department that are noteworthy to include;

Beach Signage - beach signs/flags: Kewaunee County is the first county in the state to initiate the use of flags to indicate e-coli levels in the water.  The system was based off the "dangerous currents" system used internationally.  Green indicated safe levels of e-coli, yellow indicates a caution (levels are slightly elevated), and red indicated a dangerous level of e-coli in the water.  To go along with these flags, the WI DNR created a specific sign to be used to indicate what the colors of the flags mean.  The sign is posted in three languages (English, Spanish, and Hmong). The Kewaunee Beach has one sign/flag in use, and Crescent Beach (Algoma) has three signs/flags in use.

Farmers Market – our WIC department has initiated a Farmers Market in the parking lot of the Health and Human Service Center once a month from July - October.  It is called the Healthy Choices Market. The market has farmers present which are WIC/Senior Farmer's Market approved.  This means that our WIC clients as well as seniors citizens who receive Farmers Market vouchers can shop for produce locally.  The public is welcome to come to this market too and enjoy the fresh produce.

Flu Vaccines - this fall the health department will be reinstating the Adult Flu Vaccine Program.  We will be offering flu shots to adults throughout the county.  We are hoping to vaccinate 200 Kewaunee County residents.  Shots will be $30 per dose.  Seniors can also use Medicare Part B to receive their flu shot.

Smiles for Life - the health department has partnered with Smiles for Life.  This is a non-for-profit organization that will provide dental screenings, cleanings, and sealants in the public schools within our county.  All children between ages 4 -18 can be served by this program.  Children will received up to three dental visits per school year (depending on their need).  Services will be billable to BadgerCare recipients; but are also available to children with no insurance, or families who would prefer to pay out-of-pocket.  Children and families are able to register right at school.  All services will be provided within the school day.

Website Updated - the Public Health Department have finally achieved a workable, user-friendly website for county residents to view.  In addition we have initiated use of various social-media avenues to educate the public on health topics, promote current events, and increase awareness of the services public health provides.  This website can be accessed by going to, then to Departments, then to Public Health.  Quarterly newsletters from the health department will be available later this fall.

A lot of good work being done in many areas of the county government.   This work is being done because there is focus in the departments and they are being encouraged by an engaged board with committees that are working directly with the departments.

Ground and Surface Water
I cannot write an update about the county without saying something about the ground and surface water issue as there is so much going on in this arena.  Today, in Luxemburg, I attended the first Technical Advisory Group (TAG) headed up by Jimmy Bramblett, the WI NRCS head State Conservationist.  This group will focus on quantifying solutions to improving the Kewaunee and Ahnapee watersheds.  It is anticipated that it will take upwards of two years for this group to hammer out recommendations and plans that will make long-term positive changes in our primary watershed areas. 

Last week, we had our first DNR Committee meetings and they went very well.  Senior DNR management is engaged with us to help identify solutions both short-term and long-term for our well problems.  I attended the Short-Term Solutions Group in Oshkosh and I was pleased with the headway we are making. 

The point was made clear that folks who have wells that are contaminated need assistance with clean water now!  However, we don’t know who they are or how many there are in the county.  We need to determine that first.  We really don’t know how many people in our county have been buying water to meet their daily needs.

Also, we need to have a protocol in place that spells out how a well is determined to be a “contaminated well.”  On the surface, that sounds pretty easy.  You test a well and it is either contaminated with nitrates or e-coli and bacteria or it is not.  Well, in my mind, there is more to it than that.  We need to understand the type of contamination, and how that contamination occurred.  What if that well was- tested the second month and that same well has no contamination.  Is that deemed a contaminated well?