Year of new beginnings
2016 was eventful in Marinette
|EMMA KUHN, EH staff writer|
Thursday, December 29, 2016 12:00 AM
MARINETTE — The United States, and indeed the world, is bidding goodbye to a stunningly eventful year on Saturday. A year full of ups, downs, oddities and historic significance has come and gone, and signs of its passing can be seen and felt right here in the City of Marinette.
Marinette’s 2016 was full of new beginnings for the community, most prominently seen in the number of construction projects and community goals which saw their start during the year.
Bay Area Medical Center (BAMC) saw the start of the new hospital on University Drive, a project which is well underway. The $135 million building recently celebrated its “topping out” ceremony on Dec. 19, where the last steel beam of the building’s frame, laden with the signatures of those involved in the project, was laid in place. Construction for the building originally began on May 10.
“Because so many people were involved in the design process, there really is a community investment on this,” said John Hofer, marketing and public relations director for BAMC. “We do everything we can to keep everyone current ... there’s going to be a day, sooner rather than later, when we’re going to have to pack up and move to a new hospital, and we’re already beginning to plan that day.”
The new hospital is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2018, and construction is being overseen by the Boldt Company out of Appleton, Wis.
Bellin Health also built a new center in 2016, an outpatient clinic on Roosevelt and Gallagher roads which held an open house on Nov. 12 with former Green Bay Packer Antonio Freeman as a guest of honor. The new clinic is similar in design to the Bellin Health Oconto Hospital and offers a variety of specialty care options for patients.
Marinette’s dream of a new recreation center became a reality in 2016, when fundraising efforts for the projected $12 million construction began in the spring and continue still. The city plans to fund half of the cost, about $6 million, while a team of local community leaders made connections with local businesses, organizations and individuals to raise $4.2 million in private donations for the center. The M&M Area Community Foundation is currently handling private donations through its website, www.mmcommunityfoundation.org, and by phone at 906-864-3599.
“It’s been a very exciting and productive year for the community as a whole,” said Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot. “Big things happened this year, a lot of new growth. It seems like it just keeps building on.”
Construction also began for the new Maritime Center of Excellence on Main Street in Marinette, a project several years in the making with a goal of promoting community-based training, education, research and entrepreneurship to help support the region’s maritime and shipbuilding industries. A $5 million grant from the State of Wisconsin, awarded in December of 2013, was allocated for the construction of the facility by Gov. Scott Walker. The funds went toward the land acquisition, infrastructure development and construction of the building.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the center was held on Sept. 28 nearby Marinette Marine Corp.
The U.S. Navy even honored the City of Marinette this year, with an announcement by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus stating a new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the LCS-25, will be named the USS Marinette after the city for its shipbuilding contributions to the Navy. Mabus announced the name on Sept. 22 with Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). The ship will be the first of its name.
The USS Marinette will be built at Marinette Marine, with construction beginning in late 2017 or early 2018. A commissioning committee with the U.S. Navy will be handling the celebrations and ceremony involving the ship.
Marinette also welcomed the redevelopment of the Pine Tree Mall and the addition of a Kohl’s store, with the promise of more stores to come. Planet Fitness is scheduled to open a gym in the mall during the spring of 2017, and T.J. Maxx is currently seeking approval to move in as well. Genisot said development of the mall and surrounding area will “definitely be something to watch” in the new year.
Another newcomer in 2017 is Kwik Trip Inc., the chain of convenience stores based in La Crosse, Wis., set to move in on Hall Avenue and Roosevelt Road. The chain received approval to proceed with construction in the December meeting of the city Plan Commission.
Revitalization of the community is also a focus for 2017, according to Genisot, with special focus on the downtown area and the continuation of construction on the Menekaunee Harbor boat and kayak launch. The city will have an opportunity to showcase its new launch and facilities when it hosts the televised 2017 National Walleye Tour Championship from Aug. 16 to 18.
“Overall, 2016 was a great year for Marinette,” said Genisot. “And I think 2017 will be just as great.”