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Green Bay’s State of Emergency extended

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Mayor Eric Genrich cast the tie-breaking vote to extend the city’s State of Emergency at the city council meeting Tuesday, Aug.18.

Instead of extending the declaration to the next month, as council has done since spring, the newly passed resolution extends the State of Emergency to Dec. 31, or until the Brown County Health Department determines the COVID-19 activity level is low for a period of 14 consecutive days.

“Trying to respond to what we heard from a number or alders and integrating some of these gating criteria, I think it’s acceptable to me if we were to reach low spread and then unfortunately fall back to medium or high, I certainly would have the authority to declare another emergency based on what we were seeing in the community, and then again it would be in council’s lap to affirm that declaration,” Genrich said.

The change was made partly in response to requests from some alders asking for a criteria in regards to when the State of Emergency would no longer be needed.

“I agree with us having the metrics,” said District 4 Alder Bill Galvin. “I’d like the council to be updated every two weeks on where the area stands – whether it’s low, medium or high, why they see that and where they see the trend going. So that we understand which way we are going. Something easy for us to understand, easy for the public to understand, so they can see that we are making, or not making progress. Just so they can see where we are going.”

Fire Chief David Litton will make that information available for alders going forward.

Racism declared public health crisis

The council unanimously agreed to sign-on to a resolution passed by the Wisconsin Public Health Association declaring racism as a public health crisis.

The topic was brought to council as a joint request from Alders Lynn Gerlach and Veronica Corpus-Dax.

Gerlach said as the city looks to fill the new diversity and inclusion coordinator position, it’s the right time to sign onto this declaration.

“This is the right time for us to join the 80-plus other organizations that have signed on to this declaration,” Gerlach said. “I have read the document the city is being asked to sign, and I am confident the action items it lays out are incorporated in the job description of the coordinator of diversity and inclusion. Signing this document will enable us to join our voices with those of several other local entities now joining the effort.”

Vonack leaves city staff

It was Development Director Kevin Vonck’s final council meeting Tuesday after he announced he’s leaving for a position in Richmond, Va.

“Dr. Vonck has been with the city for around five years, and it has been, I think, short of an unrivaled tenure in the history of development directors here in Green Bay,” Genrich said. “(There are) a lot of successes that Dr. Vonck has been a part of, and has been really instrumental in seeing through.”

Before coming to Green Bay in 2015, Vonck was a community economic development educator with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Brown County.

Before that, he served as the economic development coordinator for the Town of Grand Chute.

Vonck has a doctorate in urban affairs and public policy.

“It’s been a great ride,” Vonck said. “It’s really a great opportunity for me, looking to work in a larger city. Deep history, great culture, lots of potential – I see a lot of similarities to Green Bay. I really worked hard to bring you, this council, the best possible information to make the best possible, informed decision that you can. I’m super proud of what this department has accomplished, the city has accomplished over the last few years.”

Vonck will start as the deputy planning director for the City of Richmond, at the end of the month.

Council appointed Cheryl Renier-Wigg as interim director of community and economic Development, effective Aug. 22.

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