Changes on the County Board

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Seven departing supervisors totaled more than a century of experience

By the time you read this week's print edition of the Times Herald, the new members of the Oconto County Board of Supervisors had been chosen.

Voters on Tuesday were choosing successors to seven supervisors whose collective experience totaled more than a century. March 22 was the last board meeting for supervisors Lee Rymer, Bill Grady, Ron Korzeniewski, Robert Reinhart and Ryan Wendt.

Supervisor Mary Lemmen, who served 24 years on the County Board, died in October, and Gerald Beekman, whose nearly 40 years of service made him the most senior board member, died Dec. 29. Supervisor Tim O’Harrow was appointed to fill the rest of Lemmen’s term and was running for election in his own right, while Beekman’s seat was left vacant.

Rymer is retiring after 31 years on the board, including a record 19 years as chairman.

“The work that he’s done for this county, we see it every time we walk into this building or drive past it,” County Board Chairman Paul Bednarik said, and he turned the gavel over to his predecessor one last time. With his retirement in sight, Rymer turned the chairman’s duties over to Bednarik in December.

“For over 30 years, I’ve had the honor of serving alongside 30 of the finest members of our community,” Rymer said. “Each month we gather with the hope that the work we do will make a difference in the lives of county residents.”

He recounted the six-year effort to build the new Law Enforcement Center that opened last summer, with a new county jail and offices for the Sheriff’s Department.

He thanked his wife, Judy, “who’s put up with me for over 50 years,” and his colleagues on the board.

“While we’ve enjoyed this over the years, it’s been because of the people we’ve met,” Rymer said. “I would never have been able to do this without our board, you people.”

Bill Grady, thanked voters in District 19, part of the city of Oconto Falls, for allowing him to represent them for 26 years.

“There were a lot of accomplishments during those years, especially the new Law Enforcement Center, which we all should be very, very proud of,” Grady said. “I will miss everybody here.”

Korzeniewski said it’s been a privilege to represent part of the towns of Chase and Morgan for 20 years.

He cited improvements to New View Industries in Gillett, county campsites and the shooting range, and Highway Department buildings and grounds among the board’s accomplishments over his time.

He also singled out Rymer for his leadership of the board.

“I have a great deal of respect for Lee,” Korzeniewski said. “He was the right man at the right time for this county.”

Lacourciere, who represented part of the city of Oconto for 16 years, said he discovered he is the great-great-grandson of Otto Block, who was a member of the County Board when the original courthouse and is among the supervisors listed on the plaque commemorating its 1891 completion.

“I just want to say thank you to everybody, I greatly appreciate the time and the courtesies and everything else that you’ve all given me, and I wish Oconto County the best,” Lacourciere said.

Wendt, the Brazeau town chairman who has been doing double duty and decided not to run for a second two-year term on the County Board, said he was proud to have been part of the transformation of the county recycling program and hiring a new recreational deputy to serve seven northern towns, among other initiatives.

The 33-year-old Wendt joked that he may consider coming back to the County Board in 30 years, when he is “probably a little more age-appropriate to run for county supervisor.”

Reinhart of Oconto was unable to attend the March 22 meeting.