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Weapons ban extended to all county buildings

The St. Croix County Board of Supervisors approved an amended resolution Nov. 1 that restricts the carrying of concealed weapons into all county-owned buildings.

Supervisor Sharon Norton-Bauman proposed an amendment to the original resolution that only applied to the Health and Human Services campus in New Richmond to include all the county-owned buildings. It passed on a 9-7 vote.

Another amendment offered up by Supervisor James Stauffer called for excluding free-standing restroom facilities, presumably to allow permitted individuals to carry a weapon into a county park and, if need be, into the restroom facilities, died on a tie vote, 8-8.

Supervisor Buck Malick, citing the complexity of the new Wisconsin conceal and carry law as it stands, introduced a sunset amendment that would bring the county resolution to an end on Nov. 1, 2012. The amendment failed on another 8-8 vote.

At about noon, the supervisors finally voted on the resolution with the amendment to extend the weapons ban to all county buildings and passed it by a narrow 9-7 margin.

Supervisors Alfred Schrank, Ryan Sicard, Stauffer, Steve Hermsen, Malick, Daryl Standafer and Linda Lucky voted against the measure.

The discussion and vote followed a structured response from the public. Board Chair Standafer proposed that four individuals, two from each side of the question, would be authorized to speak for three minutes each.

"There is not a lot of purpose for a lot of speakers," he said since the subject had been hashed over and over in committee meetings.

The board approved his proposal.

Annette Olson, Glenwood City, was first up in opposition to the resolution.

"Wisconsin people have the right to bear arms," she said. "Act 35 (the new conceal carry law) was enacted for law-abiding citizens, not for criminals.

"If you post signs, criminals will walk through them. Posting a building makes people feel safe when in reality they are not safe," she added.

Katie Thurmes, Hudson, supported the resolution.

"Forty-eight percent of workplace assaults involve health care and social services employees," she said.

Tom Irwin, Hudson, said, "There is nothing wrong with having a mindset to defend oneself."

Dan Hansen, New Richmond, said, "This is not a motion to approve the Second Amendment. It is a motion to make our Health and Human Services building safe."

He displayed a petition he said had 435 signatures that represented people from every one of the supervisory districts he collected at the HHS building in New Richmond who supported the resolution.

During the discussion among board members, Supervisor Hermsen said, "At what length are we going to go to inhibit people's rights? We've heard the petitions; the thing that bothers me is why these county employees deserve more protection than people in private business?

"We are stating in any situation who's allowed to give aid," he said. "What's really annoying is restricting citizens' rights to protect themselves."

Vice Chair Esther Wentz, said the resolution wasn't asking people not to carry weapons.

"All we're asking is, don't bring guns into our facilities. Health and Human Services employees unanimously support this resolution," she said.

The board operated with a quorum of 16, the three absentees included Loran Sather, Buzz Marzolf and Robert Shearer.

In other action the board:

  • Adopted the 2012 budget by a 14-2 margin, James Stauffer and Steve Hermsen voted no. The projected figures showed a 6.7% decrease from 2011 budget.
  • Set the next meeting for 9 a.m., Dec. 6, at the government center.
  • Acknowledged Dave Fodroczi who is retiring after more than 21 years as the county's director of planning and zoning.
  • Unanimously approved a resolution adopting the county emergency operations plan and emergency management program.
  • Unanimously adopted a resolution to repeal an ordinance relating to emergency management
  • Unanimously adopted a resolution approving a county conservation grant.
  • Unanimously approved an employee grievance program.
  • Unanimously approved a resolution to charge back municipalities due to incorrect real estate taxes.
  • Passed a resolution amending the 2011 county budget to appropriate funds to the coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing between Houlton and Stillwater, Minn., by a 13-3 margin. Stauffer, Hermsen and Malick voted no.