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. 

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

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 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.

"Door County Masks Up!" looks to inform consumers

A Door County pastor has created a social media page to help people and businesses better protect the community from spreading COVID-19.  Reverend Gary Brinn of Hope United Church in Sturgeon Bay has personally added a Facebook account called “Door County Masks Up!”  The purpose of the social media group is to help Door County residents find local businesses that are requiring masks of employees and customers.  He says the mandate of the group has expanded more in a short time to rate businesses by a color code.



Brinn notes that this is not about publicly shaming businesses.



Brinn adds that the first week has gone very well with more than 400 people joining “Door County Masks Up!” and one business has already changed policy.   




Elderly missing use of Door County Senior Community Center

The Door County Senior and Community Center located in the ADRC building in Sturgeon Bay remains closed to the public, leaving the elderly looking for other socialization during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In an interview earlier this month, Jake Erickson, Director of the Aging & Disability Resource Center, says he is amazed at the resiliency of the older generation.  With some elderly not having family or support nearby, he knows the services provided at the senior center are being greatly missed.



One positive that Erickson notes is that many of the participants have reached out to old friends and family they have not connected with in a while.  The mission of the ADRC of Door County is to offer information, assistance, and access to community resources to keep the citizens of the county active and engaged in their well-being and with their communities.  You can find more information on the ADRC with the link below.      


(photo courtesy of ADRC website)


Virtual "Raise the Curtain" scores big for Northern Sky Theater 

A virtual event to raise money for the Northern Sky Theater realized over $100,000 this past week.  The day-long social media gathering of stories and greetings from company members was called “Raise the Curtain Wherever You Are”.  Northern Sky Theater’s Director of Development, Holly Feldman, says the annual fundraiser was to be held at the new Gould Theater in Fish Creek, before changing to a virtual event.  She shares the success of last Saturday’s event. 



The online auction featured an emailed link and password to supporters who could watch exclusive clips from archived shows from the past ten years called “Northern Skylights:  A Decade of Delight”.  Feldman says some items remain available to purchase through this Saturday. 


(photo courtesy of Northern Sky Theater)   


Free COVID-19 Testing Site for Door and Kewaunee Counties; no new cases reported

Door County and Kewaunee County residents can be tested free for COVID-19 next week in Sturgeon Bay.  Thanks to a partnership with the Wisconsin National Guard, both counties will be offering drive-thru testing at the Door County Sheriff’s Office on Duluth Avenue from 11 AM until 7 PM next Tuesday through Thursday.  The testing on Tuesday will be for only healthcare workers, public safety workers, and pre-assigned businesses.  Wednesday and Thursday, anyone in the general public age five and up can be tested.  Door County Emergency Management Director Dan Kane shares how the testing procedure will be conducted.



Those from the general public must be experiencing at least one of COVID-19 symptom.  You can find a list of the symptoms along with the news release below.  Door and Kewaunee County Public Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Door County did report 14 new recoveries since Wednesday leaving only three active cases.  The full reports are listed below.





Voters getting extra push for absentee ballots

Voters will next head to the polls in August, but election officials are seeing a bigger emphasis for absentee voting. The Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously approved sending about 2.7 million applications for absentee ballots to registered voters earlier this week. As a result, each municipality will receive a grant of $200 plus $1.10 for each registered voter to help defray the costs of the projected increase in absentee voting. That is helpful for Sturgeon Bay City Clerk Stephanie Reinhardt, which saw over 2,200 absentee ballots get requested for the April election. She feels the voters are becoming more educated on what it takes to vote absentee.

Reinhardt says she has been receiving two to three absentee ballot requests a day, which is high considering the fall general election is more than five months away.

Farmers mix crops up as planting continues

Rio Creek Feed Mill agronomist Adam Barta has seen farmers put some different crops into the ground as planting continues across the area. The planting of oats, soybeans, and corn are all over 20 days ahead of last year’s schedule according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Many farmers are putting extra attention to forages like triticale and barley after crops like alfalfa did not survive the winter well. For dairy farmers, Barta says it is important to keep close attention to the quantity and the quality of forages they are able to produce.

Dairy farmers got an extra dose of good news this week as some milk prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels due to higher demand and lower production.

School districts prepare for year's end

School districts in Door and Kewaunee Counties are preparing to say good-byes to their students for the summer. It is a different kind of good-bye this year since students have been learning remotely after buildings closed down in mid-March due to COVID-19 concerns. Southern Door School District wrapped up classes this week with parents and students dropping off their materials before beginning their summer while others still have just over a week to go. Washington Island School Principal Michelle Kanipes says the positive aspect she has taken away from the last two-plus months is knowing the students actually like their teachers and being in class.

The last day of school for many districts is June 5th. Sturgeon Bay, Algoma, and Sevastopol are hosting their graduation activities this weekend and Gibraltar will host their event on June 7th. Kewaunee, Luxemburg-Casco, and Washington Island have postponed their graduations until a later date.

Ag groups supporting dairy purchases

The Sevastopol FFA and the Kewaunee County Dairy Promotion Committee are doing their part to help get milk and other dairy products into family refrigerators. In addition to making coupons available to residents for items like butter and cheese, the Kewaunee County Dairy Promotion Committee is selling Support Dairy signs with all proceeds going towards the purchase of more dairy products for area food pantries. Sevastopol School District families will find a coupon for a free half gallon of milk compliments of the Sevastopol FFA Alumni and Econo Foods in the 400 lunches delivered on Friday. Chapter Advisor Dale Carlson says it is a critical time to support the area’s dairy industry.

The efforts of both organizations are going on despite the cancellation of their biggest summer events: the Kewaunee County Breakfast on the Farm and the Sevastopol FFA Dairy Breakfast.



Mayor credits "chemistry" for Sturgeon Bay Common Council production

David Ward never imagined he would have to issue an Emergency Declaration and face challenges from a pandemic in his first year of being the mayor of Sturgeon Bay.  Ward has been using his finance and economics background to facilitate meetings and guide the Sturgeon Bay City Council’s Emergency Management Team.  He credits his staff and the councilmembers for accomplishing difficult tasks like the April election and new resolutions to keep the city operating smoothly.  He likes the makeup of the council he is working with and believes they have good chemistry together.



Ward adds that the alders are people of goodwill and always try to see the other side of the issues.  He believes Sturgeon Bay is set up for a very successful year despite having to deal with the difficulties surrounding the COVID-19 health crisis.


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