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Menominee tax roll seized by state Second straight year Michigan takes action By PENNY MULLINS EagleHerald news editor/digital direcotor

MENOMINEE — For the second year in a row, the State of Michigan Department of Treasury has seized the city of Menominee’s tax roll. The State Tax Commission met Tuesday in Okemos, Mich., where

it followed a staff recommendation to issue an order to seize the 2016 tax roll and put it in the hands of a special assessor. City Manager Tony Graff confirmed Tuesday afternoon the city was verbally notified of the tax commission’s decision and was given the name of the individual who will make corrections to problems in both the 2016 roll.

According to information from Danelle Gittus, a public information officer with the Department of Treasury, the State Tax Commission hired contractor Ed VanderVries “to fix the problems associated with the 2016 tax roll and to provide information to allow the assessor to properly prepare the 2017 roll. Mr. VanderVries is an equalization director and a

master level assessor.” Graff reports that City Assessor Peg Bastien received information from the state that VanderVries is the equalization director for VanBuren and Oceana counties and assessor for the cities of Portage, Zeeland and Dowagiac, as well as the townships of Hersey, Sheridan and New Moran. Gittus was asked by the EagleHerald how long VanderVries is expected to take to complete his work, and she reported he is expected to complete his work in February “so the City’s assessor

will have the information needed to properly prepare the 2017 roll.” The city hasn’t received the official order from the state, but has already began to supply VanderVries with information. “The next step will be to provide him with information (he requests),” Graff said. Graff said Bastien has already sent VanderVries the tax roll database. “He plans to take one twoto-three day trip up here and a follow-up visit later,” Graff said of

See TAX, A3

By order, nativity scene taken down

■ Menominee city manger says display violates 2009 ordinance

By PENNY MULLINS EagleHerald new editor/digital director

Taking aim

EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

From left; Brooklyn Phillips, Zachary Shoupe, and Kylie Kotecki, all sixth-graders, take aim for the target Tuesday during an archery lesson in Jerome Hurley’s gym class at Peshtigo Middle/High School.

Sheriff: Courthouse fence improves safety

By PENNY MULLINS EagleHerald news editor/digital director

MENOMINEE — Residents driving past the Menominee County Courthouse and jail in the past week have noticed a change, and some of them aren’t happy with it. Following instruction from the Michigan Department of Corrections, steps have been taken to increase security and safety at the jail — resulting in the installation of a fence complete with rolled razor wire and privacy strips. Sheriff Kenny Marks said Tuesday it may not be pretty, but it follows the requirements the DOC has in place to

ensure the safety of prisoners and the public. “We were failing DOC inspections, because we didn’t have a fire escape for prisoners,” Marks said. The jail was constructed without a fire exit for inmates unless they went through the kitchen area, where Marks said a fire was likely to occur, and then out to the parking lot or lawn. To remedy that, a new door will be cut into the side of the jail and open into the parking lot area, which is being enclosed, and will eventually have electronic gate access. Marks said the fence will keep the 50-60 prisoners in an area away from a potential fire, but still under guard. “We can’t let them out on the street,”

he said. “They have to be 50 feet away from the building.” He said installation of a fire door will be one of the last steps in the project, but the result “will make it a safer facility for the future.” Interim County Administrator Sherry DuPont said there are still parts of the project to come, but that the changes have been discussed and approved by the county board. “The jail has been in violation for several years,” she said. “This is a safety and security issue.” DuPont and Marks both said the fence will go beyond creating a fencedin area in case of a fire — it will proSee FENCE, A3

MENOMINEE — Menominee City Manager Tony Graff had city workers remove the nativity scene and other holiday decorations from the Great Lakes Memorial Band Shell Monday, and said Tuesday he stands by his decision and the ordinance that led to it. It was Graff’s first day on the job and he is aware it was a decision that may not sit well with some citizens. “It was brought to my attention that the scene had been put up,” he said of the annual display of the nativity scene on 1st Street that was set up by a group of community volunteers. Graff said an ordinance approved by the city council in 2009 allows for only non-secular displays on publicly owned property. The community group thought they had followed the ordinance by including other holiday displays, he said. “There was an effort to put up a variety of decorations.” After receiving the complaint, Graff said he consulted with City Attorney Rob Jamo, and they agreed the city ordinance prohibited the religious decorations. “It was put up over the

“It’s a constitutional issue. I suggested other alternatives to find a home for it (nativity scene).” Tony Graff Menominee city manager Thanksgiving holiday,” Graff said. “I had workers take it down yesterday (Monday).” Graff said he spoke with representatives of the community group and told them he does not have any personal issue with the display, just a concern that it was not allowed on government property. “It’s a constitutional issue,” he said. “I suggested other alternatives to find a home for it.” A Pew Research Center survey in 2014 found that most Americans favor allowing religious displays like nativity scenes to be placed on government property. “The survey found that 44 percent of U.S. adults say that Christian symbols should be allowed even if they are not accompanied by symbols from other faiths, such as Hanukkah menorahs, while another 28 percent say Christian symbols should be permitted as long as they are accompanied by symbols of other religions,” an article at http://www. states. See NATIVITY, A3

Trump continues to fill Cabinet posts By STEVE PEOPLES, RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and JULIE PACE Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump is enlisting a trio of nominees with deep ties to Washington and Wall Street to fill out his Cabinet, including former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as secretary of the Treasury Department. On Tuesday, Trump also


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chose Georgia Rep. Tom Price to oversee the nation’s health care system, picking a fierce “Obamacare” critic who has championed efforts to privatize Medicare. And he selected another veteran Republican, Elaine Chao, a former labor secretary and the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to lead the Department of Transportation. Mnuchin’s official announcement was expected as early as today, according

Neely, Richard E.


Details on A5

to a person familiar with the decision who insisted on anonymity in order to confirm the pick ahead of time. Mnuchin, 53, led Trump’s finance operations during the presidential campaign and become close with the president-elect and his family. But he has no government experience, which could prove a hurdle in navigating the tricky politics of Washington. If confirmed by the Senate, Mnuchin would play a central role in shaping Trump’s

tax policies and infrastructure plans. He would also lead an agency tasked with implementing international economic sanctions. Mnuchin is expected to be joined on Trump’s senior economic team by another financier, Wilbur Ross. The billionaire investor is considered the “king of bankruptcy” for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits. See TRUMP, A3

INSIDE Wisconsin: A judge refused to order a hand recount in the state. A5 Sports: The Peshtigo girls’ basketball team downed STAA in M&O play. B1


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The Associated Press

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross talks with reporters Tin the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. Ross is expected to be chosen for President-elect Donald Trump’s economic team.

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