Area cases of COVID-19 remain low

The positive trend in the fight against COVID-19 in Door and Kewaunee Counties took another step forward on Friday.


 Door County reported three new positive tests for COVID-19 but also noted three new recoveries. The number of active cases stayed at 17. The county only noted 11 test results on Friday.


Kewaunee County reported only four new COVID-19 cases since Tuesday of 38 test results shown. With four recoveries noted, the number of active cases remained at just eight.


There were no recent hospitalizations or deaths reported in either Door or Kewaunee counties.


The state reported 840 new positive tests in Wisconsin on Friday, which makes it over two weeks since the last time over 1,000 daily cases were reported. The number of people hospitalized increased by 61, with 52 deaths reported.


On the vaccination front, 1,361 people in Door County and 523 in Kewaunee County have received doses this week. 



Proposals look to shake up elections

Two proposals being circulated in the Wisconsin Legislature could have an impact on how future elections are held. Republican Reps. Duey Stroebel and Alberta Darling are proposing major changes to the absentee voting system that saw record use in 2020 but has also been targeted with claims of fraud. The proposals would require a photo ID with every absentee ballot application, limit the use of people claiming to be indefinitely confined, and ban municipalities from accepting grants for running an election. The bills are being championed as a way to restore confidence in the election process while creating uniformity and transparency. Jay Heck from Common Cause Wisconsin says the package of bills is just making it harder for people to vote.

A bipartisan group of Wisconsin state lawmakers also introduced a ranked-choice voting format for U.S. Senate and Congressional elections. The process would eliminate partisan primaries and instead allow the best performing five candidates to advance to the general election. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the candidate who garners more than 50 percent of the vote would win. If no one reaches that mark, the last-place candidate would be eliminated and anyone who voted for that person would have their second choice counted. The process does have the support of U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher.




Kewaunee County man rescued

A 78-year-old man was rescued south of Algoma on Lake Michigan's shores after falling off an 80-foot cliff on Thursday.  Algoma Fire Department Captain Wayne Schmidt says the call came in about 12:30 pm.  Upon arriving at the scene at N6238 Highway 42, Schmidt says Algoma Police Chief Randy Remiker was attending to the victim at the bottom of the cliff.  He describes how they were able to transport the man to safety.



Schmidt notes the man showed no signs of injuries other than being cold and shivering before being transported to a Green Bay hospital.  According to Schmidt, the Algoma Fire Department was familiar with the rescue area since they had a similar incident in the same location last fall. 


(photo courtesy of Algoma Police Department)

Door County Library resuming in-person visits

All Door County Library branches will reopen for limited in-person use starting Monday, March 1st.  The library system had been limited to pick-up service for books, videos, and other checkout items during the pandemic.  Walk-in visitors will still have to follow masking and other COVID-19 precautions.  Community Relations Librarian Morgan Mann says visitors will have access to all public areas of the library, with some limitations.

Mann also says the contactless pick-ups and drop-offs remain available for those with health safety concerns.

New ag building allows students skills to grow

The new agriscience building at Luxemburg-Casco High School is allowing students to learn beyond textbooks and videos. In conjunction with the school district, Luxemburg-Casco FFA Alumni members have helped make the building a reality by installing the necessary equipment for a greenhouse, a chicken coop, and an area for small and large mammals. In the future, the building will house space for hydroponics and aquaponics. Agriculture and FFA advisor Justin Selk says there will be plenty of opportunities for students to learn inside the building’s walls.

Selk says its 30-plus member FFA chapter has been relatively quiet this year due to COVID-19 restrictions but believes it has proven to be more than just “cows, plows, and sows.”

Chapters in Door and Kewaunee counties are taking time to celebrate National FFA Week through Saturday. This is part of series of stories highlighting the area’s active chapters.

Most oppose Dollar General at public hearing

The long-anticipated public hearing on the proposed Dollar General in Egg Harbor saw over two hours of public comments on Thursday night. Initially planned for last November, the hearing was delayed and done virtually with just Town of Egg Harbor supervisors present at the town hall.  After Dollar General representatives gave their presentation, Egg Harbor residents were allowed to ask questions and make comments.  Dollar General was denied access in Sister Bay over a year ago and is now proposing a site at Highway 42 and Hillside Road. The proposed 9,100 square-foot building would be placed on a 2.5-acre lot.  Supervisor Steve Schopf says most people voicing their opinion were opposed to the development.  He shares the primary concern raised by residents on Thursday evening.



Schopf added that those in opposition also did not like an outside business entering the area and competing with local retailers.  The plan commission will meet on March 8 to review the architectural design before it goes in front of the Town of Egg Harbor Board on March 15.


(initial site plan of Dollar General store courtesy of Town of Egg Harbor)

COVID-19 active cases continue to hold steady

Door County Public Health reported five new positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday out of the 40 test results returned. The active cases held at 17 while five people recovered.  No hospitalizations or deaths were reported and the total number of tests performed in Door County is now at 16,291.


Kewaunee County Public Health did not report today. 


The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced 52 additional deaths along with 840 new cases statewide on Thursday.  


Rueckl remembered for his dedication to community

Long-time business owner and community supporter Tom Rueckl of Luxemburg is being mourned this week after passing away at the age of 80 in Florida last weekend.  Rueckl, a life-long resident of Luxemburg, was involved in developing Northbrook Country Club in 1972 and served as a funeral director and owner of McMahon's of Luxemburg for 50 years.  According to his obituary, Rueckl was a member and past president of the Luxemburg Area Chamber of Commerce.  He was the Chamber's "Man of the Year" in 1991.  Ted Stodola, businessman and close friend to Rueckl, says he was a professional and dedicated man that the community will greatly miss.



Rueckl also served on the Bank of Luxemburg board for 27 years before retiring nine years ago and staying in Florida during the winter months.  You can find details on Tom Rueckl's funeral here.  

Tractor Supply coming to Kewaunee

The City of Kewaunee is excited to bring a large retail business to the community to fill a vacant building at the city's north entrance.  Mayor Jason Jelinek says Tractor Supply will be coming to the old Shopko building on Highway 42 with hopes to open in June.  The building is about 30 percent larger than the retailer's typical layout.  Jelinek sees the business as a good fit in Kewaunee.



Based in Brentwood, Tennessee, Tractor Supply has over 1,800 stores nationwide that offer home improvement, agriculture, lawn and garden maintenance, and animal care products.  Jelinek noted that Kewaunee has six other new businesses planning to open later this year.

Door County food box events to be held Friday

Door County residents can head to either Sister Bay or Sturgeon Bay for the next Farmers to Families Food Box events happening on Friday. Beginning at 4 p.m., residents can receive the food boxes contactless at the Door County Fairgrounds and the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Station. United Way of Door County Executive Director Amy Kohnle stresses patience at both events.

Over 1,000 boxes are expected to be distributed between the two sites courtesy of the Door County Food Pantry Coalition, the Door County Fire Chiefs Association, the United States Department of Agriculture, and Feeding America. Kohnle adds that food ran out quickly at the Sturgeon Bay site two weeks ago, which prompted changes to how many boxes each family can receive. Additional details, including a Farmers to Families Food Box event in Kewaunee County, can be found below.



















FFA Week takes a different look at Kewaunee

Chapters across Door and Kewaunee counties are celebrating National FFA Week a little bit differently this year due to the pandemic. Many of their outings have either been canceled or taken place virtually. At Kewaunee, their FFA chapter will distribute dairy products to students but will also take a year break from hosting elementary school kids for a petting zoo as a part of its festivities. Kewaunee FFA Advisor and agriculture teacher Randy Charles says they are continuing to look for ways to promote agriculture in the district. One of those ideas could have a big impact on the community.

Charles added its 50-plus member chapter is working towards competitions taking place later in the year even though like many other things, they will be taking place virtually. This is part of series of stories highlighting the area’s active chapters.



Warming weather parks snowmobiles locally -- UPDATED

Snowmobile enthusiasts in Door and Kewaunee counties will have to travel elsewhere to sneak in a ride.


The Door County Parks Department announced Wednesday it was closing the southeast and central zones of its snowmobile trail system. The southwest zone in Door County closed on Monday, which was when Kewaunee County closed down its entire system due to poor trail conditions.


The weather report is not looking too kindly on those trails reopening in the near future with little to no snow in the forecast and daytime high temperatures above the freezing mark occurring for nine of the next 10 days.


North Zone - CLOSED - FEBRUARY 26, 2021

Trails are from Maple Tree Road/Kangaroo Beach Road (Egg Harbor to Baileys Harbor) north to the Gills Rock area.


Conditional permit process helps Sister Bay deal with multiple applications

The Village of Sister Bay is working through multiple applications for conditional use permits for the construction of secondary dwellings.  The Planning Commission had several requests for such permits on Tuesday's agenda.  Those range from transient rentals to condominiums.  A number of transient housing units have been proposed in Sister Bay and other Door County communities.  Sister Bay Village Administrator Beau Bernhoft says conditional use permit applications are proving to be a useful tool when the plan commission is pondering developments with long-term community impact.

During Tuesday's meeting, the plan commission approved conditional a use permit for a condominium project on Little Sister Road by Lance and Bridget Crane.  The commission also gave approval to a preliminary redevelopment plan for a hotel/motel condominium project on Maple Drive by Al Gokey. A modified redevelopment plan is expected to be submitted as early as March.

No new COVID-19 cases in Door County

Wednesday’s report of COVID-19 cases in the state yielded no new positive tests in Door County.


It marks the first time since February 15th that there were no positive tests reported. There were also no deaths, hospitalizations, or recoveries in Wednesday’s report.


As a state, an additional 747 people tested positive for COVID-19 while 25 died and 55 were hospitalized.


So far this week, 355 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Door County while Kewaunee County has administered 107.



Tests Performed: 16,251 (+13)
Positive: 2,406
Probable: 195
Negative: 13,637 (+13)
Recovered: 2,565 
Active: 17
Deaths: 20 
Total Ever Hospitalized: 83 



Tests Performed: 3,3,164,429 (+5,264)
Positive: 561,311 (+747)
Negative: 2,603,118 (+4,517)
Deaths: 6,342 (+25)
Total Ever Hospitalized: 25,893 (+55)

Kewaunee man arrested on child sex crimes

A 57-year-old Kewaunee man was arrested Wednesday on charges of possession of child pornography. A release from the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department revealed they received a tip from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that John Kay Jr. was searching for child sex abuse imagery. After a search of his home in the town of Pierce, Kay was incarcerated in the Kewaunee County Jail pending further orders from the court.

Luxemburg adding new housing

The groundwork for two new housing projects in the Luxemburg area is well underway. Village President Jack Seidl says the developments are good news for the community. The Northbrook subdivision condominium development will begin construction this spring. 



The other condominium development, on Seidl Street, will need some completed paperwork done before it is brought before the board next month for final approval. That project will offer 12 units with some additional single-family residences. Last month, the Village of Luxemburg passed a motion to limit incentives for any development at $500,000.  


Weather may trump shanty removal dates

With forecasted high temperatures above freezing for at least another week, the Department of Natural Resources is warning ice anglers that ice can deteriorate quickly with those conditions. Local DNR Conservation Warden Chris Kratcha says by law, unoccupied fishing shanties on area inland lakes, like Clark and Kangaroo lakes must be removed by March 7.  Ice shanties on Green Bay must be off the ice by March 14.  Kratcha cautions anglers to consider the thawing temperatures before venturing on the ice.



You can still ice fish after the deadlines, but only with portable shacks that are removed each day.  The DNR is asking for help from the public to report any violation of the rules.  You can call or text the DNR hotline at 1-800-847-9367.

Door County confirms Ash as Highway Commissioner

Thad Ash will take over as Door County Highway Commissioner beginning March 1st.  Ash is a 22 year veteran of the highway department and has served as Patrol Superintendent for the past 15 years.  As highway commissioner, Ash says his priority will be to maintain the quality of state, county, and township roads with the funding available.


Ash replaces John Kolodziej, who's retiring on February 26th after nearly 21 years with the county and nine years as Sturgeon Bay Public Works Director.

Area COVID-19 death

Door County Public Health disclosed a small sampling of COVID-19 results on Tuesday as the 20th death was reported, the first since February 10.  Of the 18 test results, there were two confirmed cases with no new recoveries noted.  Also, for the first time in two weeks, the daily number of active cases went up.  The total number of active cases now stands at 17 with an increase of two.   Door County also reported one additional hospitalization on Tuesday.


After two consecutive days of zero deaths in the state, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 33 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday.  The DHS also reported 566 positive tests and a positivity rate of just under16 percent.   


On the vaccination front, Door County dispensed 74 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week while Kewaunee County showed 35 people receiving the vaccine.  Overall, about 20 percent of the population in Door County have been vaccinated, with 13 percent in Kewaunee County.


County approves funds for salt-brine facility

The Door County Highway Department will begin producing its own salt-brine mixture for use on area highways next winter.  The Door County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the transfer of $170,000 from the Highway Department's Cash Account to the Building Account.  Those funds would be used to build an addition to the Sturgeon Bay garage to house the salt-brine manufacturing operations.  A $147,000 state grant will pay for the brine-making equipment.  Door County Highway Commissioner John Kolodziej told supervisors that the new facility and the arrangement with the state make sense for Door County. 


The construction and installation of the salt-brine facility is expected to be finished by October, just in time for the 2021-2022 winter driving season.

Algoma mother charged in drowning death of baby

The Algoma woman who was arrested last week in connection to her seven-month-old child drowning in a bathtub has been charged with child neglect resulting in death.


According to the criminal complaint, 23-year-old Cheyanne Wierichs admitted to investigators that she left the bathroom with the baby in the bathtub to connect her phone to a Bluetooth speaker, returning after listening to a song when she heard splashing sounds.  It was estimated that several minutes would have passed from the time Wierichs left and returned to the bathroom.


After authorities completed a search warrant, evidence of methamphetamine was gathered from the residence.  Also charged with possessing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, Wierichs is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday. 

Gibraltar School Board sends students back to classroom

In a matter of two months, Gibraltar Area Schools will go from completely virtual to allowing the entire student body back for in-person instruction. The Gibraltar School Board made the decision Monday to allow for a change to the district calendar to be open every day for students. The elementary school had already made the transition to five days a week in-person learning. The seven secondary school grades were previously split into two groups that alternated every five days between in-person and remote learning. Secondary students will also transition from two 210-minute class periods to five 80-minute class periods. Superintendent Tina Van Meer said it took longer to get to this point than many parents would have wanted, but she looks at the positives.

Van Meer hopes the longer the schools can prove their COVID-19 mitigation strategies are working, coupled with the change class day structure, the more parents will feel comfortable sending their children back for in-person learning. Students at the secondary school have not been 100 percent in person since the pandemic hit the area last March. Parents will still have the option to keep their kids in remote learning.

Sevastopol to return to 100 percent in-person attendance

For the first time since the fall, Sevastopol School District will welcome all of its students back to the classroom if their families so choose on March 1st. The district has been in its current A/B model since the end of September when at one point contact tracing kept nearly 10 percent of its student population in quarantine. That was preceded by two weeks of 100 percent in-person learning. The number of positive cases has dwindled in recent weeks and close to 20 percent of the county’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Sevastopol Superintendent Kyle Luedtke says that gives him confidence moving forward.

The district currently only has one positive case and four people in quarantine due to COVID-19.  Luedtke added that the district’s cleaning procedure and 14-day quarantine period for close contacts will stay in place.  Approximately seven percent of elementary and high school students and eight percent of middle school students have opted out of in-person learning according to principals Adam Baier and Aaron Hilts earlier this month. Currently Luxemburg-Casco, Algoma, Sturgeon Bay, Southern Door, and Washington Island School District offer 100 percent in-person learning.

Vaccine benefits outweigh possible side effects

Despite the side effects many people are experiencing when receiving the COVID-19 vaccine series, Door County Medical Center officials are encouraging residents to take advantage of any opportunities to get it one. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Heise and President/CEO Brian Stephens from Door County Medical Center weighed in on a number of COVID-19 vaccine issues during a Facebook Live session on Monday night. Many of the questions centered around the side effects of getting the vaccine, which have included fevers, chills, tiredness, and headaches. Stephens admits you may want to plan ahead if you are scheduled to get the vaccine.

Heise hopes the side effects do not force people to steer clear of the vaccine.

Heise and Stephens reiterated that demand is outpacing the current supply the hospital, Door County Public Health, and other vaccination partners have available. It could grow even more when sign-ups start for the next stage of vaccinations, which include teachers, child care workers, some farm personnel, and grocery store workers.



Town of Gibraltar to discuss special assessments

The Town of Gibraltar Board will discuss the special assessments being levied on property owners for recent lighting and sidewalk improvement projects.


Both projects were included during last year’s Highway 42 improvements. Approximately $567,500 for sidewalks and $811,100 for new lighting will be a part of the special assessment. The amount paid for by the property owner is based on the assessed cost per acre and per $1,000 of total property value.


You can find the special assessment schedules for both projects by clicking this link. The information will be discussed at a special meeting on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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