News

Work on former motel land ready to proceed

The town of Liberty Grove received good news regarding its plans to build affordable housing on the site of a former motel. Land that was contaminated near the former Val-A Motel has been removed from the county at a cost of about $10,000 to the town. With the contamination gone and the land getting a clean bill of health, Town chairperson John Lowry says now its focus can turn towards redeveloping it so it can address one of the area’s biggest needs.

The town will also discuss potentially extending its public health emergency declaration to match the Village of Sister Bay when it meets Wednesday via Zoom Conference at 7 p.m. Lowry says the declaration puts the town in line for much-needed funds because of the response to COVID-19.  

COVID-19 testing site opens today

You can get tested for COVID-19 for free at the Door County Justice Center over the next three days.

 

The joint effort between Door and Kewaunee Counties and the Wisconsin National Guard is taking place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 2nd-4th at the Door County Justice Center, 1201 S. Duluth Avenue, Sturgeon Bay. No registration is needed to participate but it is recommended you get tested only if you have one or more symptoms.

 

June 2, 2020: Testing for Healthcare Workers, Public Safety Workers & Select Pre-Assigned Businesses ONLY
June 3, 2020: Testing for General Public (Ages 5 & Up)
June 4, 2020: Testing for General Public (Ages 5 & Up)

New Kewaunee County food program for senior citizens 

The Aging & Disability Resource Center of the Lakeshore announced Monday that a new food program for senior citizens will be coming to Kewaunee County.  Starting on June 22, anyone over 60 years old can pick up bagged lunches from three different locations.  The pre-ordered lunches will be available Monday through Friday for pick up between 11 AM and noon.  Outreach Coordinator for ADRC of the Lakeshore, Olivia Delikowski, explains why the program has expanded into Kewaunee County.

 

 

Delikowski adds that the lunches will include a sandwich, fruit, chips or crackers along with a beverage.  A two-day advanced notice is needed and a $3 donation is recommended.  All Pick-ups will be alphabetized with social-distancing being followed and masked personnel bringing the bagged lunches to your vehicle.  Locations will be at parking areas at the Kewaunee Human Services Building, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Luxemburg, and the Algoma United Methodist Church.  You can find more information about the new Senior Citizen Food Program online with this story. 

 

Senior Citizen Lunch Program


Difference between fear and phobia – Mental Health Minute series

Sturgeon Bay Psychologist Dr. Dennis White warns that being obsessed with the COVID-19 pandemic can have it take over your life.  Knowing the difference between fears and phobias is important in dealing with one’s mental health.  Dr. White explains further.

 

 

One example is the fear of germs.  Although many people may fear contracting a disease, only a small subsection of the population would meet the criteria of a germophobia, according to Dr. White.  He says finding the distinction between fear and phobia is more difficult than it was just three months ago.  You can find the entire Mental Health Minute by Dr. White on fears versus phobias below. 

 

 

 

Crossroads Trail Run goes virtual

The 11th annual Crossroads Trail Run will happen this year as a virtual event. The popular trail run for runners and walkers will still cover a 2k, 5k, or 10k distance in a “Safer at Home” location. The event can happen anytime between June 16 and June 20. Crossroads Trail Run committee member Deb Whitelaw Gorski says it was necessary to offer the trail run this year. 

 

 

Race Director Gretchen Schmelzer explains that runners can now develop their route and distance to run.

 

 

Trails will also be marked at Crossroads if runners prefer a route there. All participants will receive a “Going the Distance….at a Distance” cotton bandana mask by registering online a week before the race. Local runners can pick up their masks at Crossroads at Big Creek on June 20 from 8 AM until 8 PM. All proceeds from the Crossroads Trail Run benefit the educational programs at Crossroads and the “ski for free” events held during the winter. You can find the registration information below.

 

https://www.crossroadsrun.com/

 

(photo courtesy of crossroadsrun.com)

 

Kewaunee County Jail Museum closed for 2020

The Historic Jail Museum, located in Kewaunee, will not reopen this year. The Kewaunee County Jail Museum posted on social media Monday that due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the difficult decision was made not to open the Kewaunee County Jail Museum for the 2020 season. Citing safety concerns for staff and visitors, the organization decided not to open. According to the Kewaunee County website, the 144-year-old building houses donated collections of the Kewaunee County Historical Society while featuring a jail section with one cell in its original configuration. The museum would have been celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Plans are to open next year for the 51st year.

 

(Photo courtesy of KewauneeCounty.org) 

 


RV sales and rentals climb

With some vacations being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, many families are turning to recreational vehicles to spend time with each other while social distancing. A recent US Travel Association survey shows 47 percent of people were likely to travel by car after pandemic worries lessen and 42 percent would stick close to home with those plans. Quietwoods RV sales manager Dylan Welch says those canceled plans have made getting an RV an attractive option.

In-store traffic for people buying RVs is slowly picking up, but Welch says they have been able to stay close to its average pace thanks to people calling and looking at units online.

Virus testing site volunteers needed

The Door County Emergency Support Coalition is recruiting volunteers for three days of COVID-19 testing this week. Door County, Kewaunee County, and the Wisconsin National Guard are joining forces to offer a free community testing site for people exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms at the Door County Justice Center. Volunteers will be primarily helping with traffic control and direction. Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Fire Chief Chris Hecht says the roles are non-contact and precautions are being taken to keep everyone safe.

Volunteers can choose one of two shifts: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Wisconsin National Guard has been assisting communities set up mobile testing sites across the state since approximately mid-May. 

 

 

Graduations offer same joy with different look

The walk across the stage may have been replaced with a decorated vehicle driving up, but the joy of graduating high school was still easily seen in Door and Kewaunee Counties this weekend. Sturgeon Bay and Sevastopol High Schools hosted drive-up ceremonies Saturday and Sunday while Algoma let their students take a stroll on the Crescent Beach Boardwalk before accepting their diplomas. Algoma valedictorian Arissa Kirchman relied on her classmates to address what they missed about not being in school for the last two months.

Sturgeon Bay and Sevastopol both released their virtual ceremonies over the weekend. In his virtual commencement address, Sturgeon Bay High School Valedictorian Nicholas Herbst focused on the perseverance the class of 2020 has shown.

Sevastopol co-valedictorian Madisen Duginski quoted Starlord from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and referenced other comic book heroes to speak about what they gained during the time they lost.

Southern Door held its virtual ceremony and their diploma presentation event last week which allowed the class of 2020 to walk through its halls one last time. Gibraltar will host its graduation ceremony this Sunday. You can see additional graduation coverage at DoorCountyDailyNews.com.


Museums open under uncertainty

Museums in Door and Kewaunee Counties are taking it a little bit slower when it comes to reopening to the public. Some museums like the Kewaunee County Jail Museum in Kewaunee and the Door County Historical Museum in Sturgeon Bay have not reopened yet due to COVID-19 concerns. The Door County Maritime Museum opened its Sturgeon Bay museum and the Cana Island Lighthouse to visitors for the first time over the weekend with visitor limits and extra sanitation procedures. Deputy Director Sam Perlman is not sure what kind of response museums will receive post-Safer at Home Order, but believes they are taking the necessary precautions to welcome them back safely.

This past weekend also marked the opening of its new interpretative center on Cana Island, which will give visitors a deeper look at the history of the lighthouse that sits on its land.

 

Picture Courtesy of the Door County Maritime Museum

Seed Library begins victory garden operation

A local horticultural organization is dusting off a World War II-era activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Door County Seed Library President Penne Wilson says that when the area branches closed, the organization was stuck with seeds that it could not distribute. Out of necessity, the group developed its victory garden concept.

 


Wilson says that demand is high as people try to become more self-sufficient during trying times. Packets are available to Door County Seed Library members. There will be an event at Crossroads on June 6th for the general public.

 

Belgian Days rolling on in July

The Brussels Lions Club “Belgian Days” fundraiser will literally roll on this summer.  The club decided to proceed with the celebration in Brussels Town Park July 11-12 with some public health modifications to address COVID-19 concerns.  Lion Jim Noll says this year's Belgian Days will be a “drive-through” event.

 

 

 

Noll says should conditions improve the Belgian Days could be further modified to allow people to dine at the town park picnic tables.  Updates will be posted on the Brussels Wisconsin Lions Club Facebook page between now and July 11th.


Parklets program will be a work in progress

Third Avenue restaurants and retailers in Sturgeon Bay will be able to set up parklets for customers outside their businesses this summer.  That comes as the city further evaluates future applications for the concept.  The Parking and Traffic Committee considered the idea this week and voted to send it back to the Protection and Services Committee for further consideration. The parklet concept envisions using parking spaces in front of participating businesses. Parking and Traffic Committee Chair Kiersten Reeths says, for this summer, parklets will be allowed on portions of the sidewalks in front of those businesses.  Reeths calls this summer a time of evaluation for the parklets concept.

 

 

 

Reeths says the parklets concept has been successfully used by other Wisconsin communities.  Those include Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, LaCrosse and Manitowoc.

COVID-19 cases go up one over the weekend

Kewaunee County added only one additional case of COVID-19 since the state of Wisconsin reported its largest single-day increase on Friday.

 

The last update on Sunday puts Kewaunee County at 35 positive cases with 57 tests pending. Door County saw its number stay steady at 38 positive cases since it last reported on Friday with 129 tests still pending. The state has been reaching record highs in testing in recent days, which has led to a higher number of positive cases. The two counties will join forces this week with the help of the Wisconsin National Guard for a community testing site this Tuesday through Thursday at the Door County Sheriff's Office in Sturgeon Bay. 

COVID-19 not stopping business expansion

Some Door County business owners are proceeding with expansion plans despite a seemingly uncertain economy.  The Door County Economic Development Corporation says some undisclosed companies had planned to grow their operations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.   DCEDC Executive Director Steve Jenkins says those plans are proceeding because economic conditions are working in their favor.

 

 

 

Jenkins also says even though interest rates are at all time lows, expansion decisions are based more on market demand than the availability and affordability of lending options.

High lake levels affect areas far from the shoreline

Lakes Michigan and Huron are projected to be at record high levels throughout the summer, and that affects the entire Door Peninsula, not just areas near the shoreline. All of the watersheds and rivers that eventually pour out into Lake Michigan are finding it difficult to do so. Chris Warren, Chief of Great Lakes Hydrology for the US Army Corps of Engineers, uses the Bay of Green Bay as an example of the consequences when tributaries and waterways get backed up.

 


Warren says there is no easy solution to the high water levels. He believes that only a prolonged regional dry spell can bring water levels back towards their long-term average.

 

Restaurants get creative as dine-in/catering sales drop

The “Safer at Home” restrictions that forced Door County restaurants to close their buffets and dining areas also resulted in creative ways to stay in business. Many have limited their business to take-out orders only.   Wanda Jean's in Sturgeon Bay is no exception.  While her dining room reopened last week,  owner Wanda Jean Hilsabeck says she's had to do a lot of tweaking to make up for lost dine-in and catering sales.   Hilsabeck says that tweaking is yielding some surprising results.

 

 

 

While Friday night fish fries and Sunday brunches won't resume any time soon, Wanda Jean Hilsabeck plans to add Sunday chicken dinners as more people start to feel comfortable again with eating out. 

Southern Door Fire still trying to revive summer tradition

The Southern Door Fire Department began work last year to revive the annual parade and picnic in the Village of Forestville. Member Kim Starr says they don’t know if the COVID-19 cloud will have passed by the end of July, but the hope is for everything to happen as planned. It has been over a decade since Southern Door Fire last had the event, and Starr says area residents have missed it.

 


The department is also celebrating its 40th year and selling merchandise to commemorate the anniversary. Proceeds from both efforts will be used to purchase a new Jaws of Life. Southern Door Fire encourages everyone to take part in the parade. The event is scheduled for Saturday, July 25th. Any changes will be announced at the Southern Door Fire Department Facebook page.

 

Grocery shopping patterns changing

As more people work from home or limit their traveling, Door County grocers are seeing shopping patterns change.  That's in line with a national survey of six leading grocery chains and two wholesalers.  That survey shows the increased popularity of weekday shopping.  Jon Calhoun, General Manager of Tadych's Econofoods in Sturgeon Bay, says he's seen a similar shift that's resulted in staffing changes to meet demand.

 

 

 

Calhoun says weekends remain popular shopping days at his store as out of town visitors stock up their shelves.That's in contrast to the national survey which shows drops in Saturday and Sunday grocery shopping while customer traffic at other retailers is growing.

Sturgeon Bay bridge closing Monday

The third time is the charm for Maple-Oregon Bridge work, but a hex for Sturgeon Bay commuters. Starting Monday, June 1st, the span will be closed to pedestrian and vehicle traffic until June 12th. The first phase was found to be unnecessary in April after an inspection. What was supposed to be the second phase of the project was pushed back due to stubbornly cold temperatures that would have kept the polymer overlay applied during the work from setting. Project Manager Jeremy Ashauer says working on the lift portion takes some time.

 


Motorists will be detoured to the Michigan Street Bridge and Bayview Bridge to traverse the canal. The work will also affect maritime traffic. Large vessels will not be able to cross under the bridge from June 1st to Friday the 5th.

 

Belgian Heritage Center swaps waffles for booyah

The Belgian Heritage Center in Brussels is making adaptations to its summer schedule, exchanging sit-down community meals for the to-go variety. Some food is better for the format than others, and the center expects to be canceling the waffle breakfast shortly. By comparison, Theresa Alexander says a recent booyah event wildly surpassed expectations.

 


The Belgian Heritage Center has not opened for the summer season yet, both the grounds and the exhibition hall within the former St. Mary of the Snows Church are closed. Alexander says to expect more booyah offered soon.

 

Expectations for NWTC Sturgeon Bay fall reopening

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is reopening its campuses including Sturgeon Bay this fall to resume hands-on learning as well as limited classroom sessions.  NWTC closed down in mid-March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Non-laboratory classes continued online and through other remote learning options, which will also be offered for the summer semester starting June 5th.  NWTC President Jeff Rafn says some areas of study need to be offered in lab settings as well as classrooms and extensive safety precautions will be taken.

 

 

 

NWTC students, with the exception of those in the dental hygiene program in Green Bay, were allowed back on campus as some courses required. Dr. Rafn says they'll be able to go onto their fall courses with little disrupution.

Lakeshore CAP offers additional rental assistance

Lakeshore CAP clients struggling to pay rent due to underemployment or unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic can get additional help through the agency.  Nearly $700-thousand in state and federal funding is now available through the four-county Lakeshore CAP offices.  That's in addition to similar funding already offered through the Door Community Foundation and the United Way.  Lakeshore CAP Executive Director Colleen Homb says those who are interested should apply as soon as possible.

 

 

Applications for COVID-19 related rental assistance are being accepted online

Litter piling up at Perry Field

The City of Algoma’s Parks and Recreation Department is warning about the possibility of having to lock up Perry Field due to litter and other forbidden activities. Director Sara Robertson says that it is common for the issues to crop up in spring as residents begin to get outside in the warmer weather, but she has never seen it this bad.

 


Robertson expects to have positive announcements shortly regarding summer programs, including grab n’ go lunches for children. 

 

 

Youth plays share views on gun violence

Sturgeon Bay's Third Avenue Playhouse and Write On Door County are teaming up to help middle and high school students express their concerns about gun violence.  A nationwide program entitled #ENOUGH will help students write and present 10-minute plays to share their thoughts about HOW mass shootings have impacted their lives.  Bob Boles, Co-Artistic Director at the Third Avenue Playhouse says #ENOUGH is designed to start a dialogue among young people regardless of whether they're for gun rights or gun control.

 

 

 

Virtual coaching sessions from playwrights Alex Gentry-Waksburg and Paulette Laufer will be held over three weeks beginning June 2nd. The sessions will be held via Zoom and are free but registration is required. To register for these sessions, click here.

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