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Nursing home backers protest budget cuts

<i>Jon Echternacht photo</i> HUDSON -- A small informational picket line marched at the government center in frigid weather the morning of Dec. 7, but that didn't stop St. Croix County Board supervisors, who were inside, from passing many resolutions.

A small informational picket line marched at the government center in frigid weather the morning of Dec. 7, but that didn't stop St. Croix County Board supervisors, who were inside, from passing many resolutions.

The picket line was set up by Friends of the St. Croix County Nursing Home. They took issue with the board's failed attempt to eliminate the facility's budget all together but then successfully slashed the sum in half.

The board was able to appoint a new medical examiner in probably the most discussed piece of business of the day.

Patricia Schachtner was named the new ME, replacing Casey Swetlik who resigned earlier this year to pare down his duties down to directing Emergency Support Services and the Emergency Communications Center.

Schachtner of Somerset said she has worked with EMS since 1999, moved up to EMT and later took over as an investigator in the medical examiner's department.

Schachtner was approved for the position by a 17-2 margin with Daryl Standafer and Brian Hurtgen voting no. She was to start Wednesday (Dec. 8) and serve through Dec. 31, 2011.

Steve Hermsen had made an unsuccessful attempt to delay the issue until it could be placed on the next Public Protection Committee agenda for further scrutiny of the contract.

However, Sharon Norton-Bauman cautioned that the county would not have a medical examiner after Dec. 31 if action was not taken.

Hermsen's motion to table failed by a 17-2 margin. Hermsen and Sather voted for the tabling motion.

The board also approved a resolution to amend the review process for two vacant positions in the sheriff's office running an end around an earlier resolution for a soft hiring freeze. Hermsen questioned the move.

Sheriff Dennis Hillstead, making his last report to the body before retiring at the end of the year, said his department had an agreement with the board that required a minimum number of staff in the jail.

"The resolution would let us fill the positions without drawing overtime," Hillstead said.

"I don't think we should micromanage the sheriff's department," said Roger Rebholz.

The measure passed by a 17-2 margin. Standafer and Brian Hurtgen voted against.

A press release passed out by the nursing home advocates expressed, "Anger and disappointment with nine county board members who, after achieving a balanced budget, attempted to remove all levy funding from the county nursing home."

The levy funding was set at about $660,000. The result of the action at the October board meeting to set the budget reduced the nursing homes funding by about $320,000, the release said.

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