Another death in Door County  

Door County Public Health reported a single case of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the county disclosed its 22nd death since the pandemic began just over a year ago.  The death was the first one in several weeks as active cases went up to 125.  There were no additional hospitalizations reported in Door County.


The state confirmed 922 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday with 70 hospitalizations and ten more deaths. 


On the day the scheduled Johnson & Johnson vaccinations were canceled this week, Door County vaccinated 109 residents with at least the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine while Kewaunee County gave “shots in arms” to 96 people.


New school board members ready for new, familiar challenges

In the April 6 Spring elections, three new members of the Sturgeon Bay school board were announced, both new and returning. Angie Kruse and Damion Howard are two that will be taking on a new role, but for Roger Wood, he returns to the school board he previously served.


Angie Kruse estimates that it was six years ago she was first approached about considering a run for school board, but didn’t give it much thought. A few years later, she reconsidered and started attending open sessions of school board meetings. A big motivation for becoming a part of the board was being impressed by their ability to get kids in the classrooms this school year.



Kruse says prior experience on committees will be something to lean on. She has been active with St. John Bosco and YMCA communities. Another board elect, Damion Howard, graduated from Sturgeon Bay and also has children around the district. That coupled with his desire to be a voice for minority students like himself urged him to start his campaign.



Howard also hopes to bridge any gaps between the school and local organizations, like the Boys and Girls Club where he’s employed. Roger Wood was also elected to the school board. Previously he spent twelve years on the board, but it has been a few years since he had last been a part of it. He said he enjoyed his time on the board and looked to get back on. He’s hoping to positively use his earlier board experience to maintain the school’s positive direction. He also values the diverse skill set of the elected board members, and wants to be a board member people can approach. 



All three were honored to be selected to serve on the board. 


Climate Change Coalition scores nationally recognized speaker

The Climate Change Coalition of Door County will be starting off a series of events centered around climate change awareness on April 21st. Headlining the event will be the accomplished Katharine Hayhoe, who is a globally known climate scientist who will speak at 11 AM. The Zoom talk she will bring is titled, “Using Data to Change People’s Minds on Climate Change.” What her presentation will aim to do is offer a positive message with practical solutions for climate matters. Hayhoe wants to use an approach that will hit home for a Door County audience. 


Hayhoe also desires for all people to have a place in the discussion rather than it being a partisan issue. Hayhoe will be releasing a book called Saving Us in September. Hayhoe hosts the PBS digital series Global Weirding which is currently in its fifth season. She has also been named to TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Area counties and state pause Johnson and Johnson

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services instructs Wisconsin vaccine providers to discontinue administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID19 vaccine due to adverse side effects reported. The Center for Disease Control and U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis that have been reported in the U.S. In the U.S. 6.8 million people have received a dose of this vaccine. Johnson & Johnson vaccine was supposed to be available at Wednesday's Door County Public Health vaccination clinic and on Thursday in Kewaunee County. 


Door and Kewaunee Public Health cancelled all Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments this week. Door County asks those scheduled for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to call them if they’d like to schedule the Pfizer vaccine. Door County Health and Human Services Director Joe Krebsbach says there is worry this will scare people from vaccination.



 Door County has limited appointments available this week and more Pfizer appointments available next week. DHS Secretary-Designee Karen Timberlake said they are pausing administration out of an abundance of caution and that vaccine providers should hold on to the vaccine until federal review has been completed.


Nicolet National Bank acquires Mackinac Financial

For the fifth time in six years, Nicolet National Bank is getting a little bigger after its parent company acquired Michigan-based Mackinac Financial on Monday. The acquisition is valued at $248 million and includes Mackinac Financial’s 28 mBank locations. Nicolet’s purchase of Mackinac Financial will allow customers in Michigan and northern Wisconsin access to wealth management services and larger business loans. Nicolet National Bank President and CEO Mike Daniels says the positive impact of the sale will also be felt by its current customers.

Daniels also pointed out that acquiring Mackinac Financial adds to the culture Nicolet National Bank has established as a community bank and the local decision-making that comes with it. The recent string of acquisitions for Nicolet National Bank started in 2015 when it purchased Sturgeon Bay-based Baylake Bank.

Starlink gets boost

Door County’s Starlink Internet users are getting more good news this week thanks to improvements being made.


The Starlink project, which is part of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, recently launched another 60 satellites into orbit in addition to other updates for its beta users. The improvements addressed some preventative maintenance and gateway availability concerns. PC Magazine recently ranked Door County in the top 30 best locations nationwide for Starlink and has given high marks for speeds in Kewaunee County. While the wait may be long for some applying to get the hardware necessary to get the service, Quantum PC owner Nathan Drager said during last month’s “Ask Mr. Quantum” podcast that the early returns have been great for his customers.

Quantum PC has been installing new Starlink equipment for area customers since the winter. Drager advises customers to apply for the equipment now and have their site surveyed to make sure there are no obstructions. You can learn more about Starlink Internet by listening to the Ask Mr. Quantum podcast here.



Egg Harbor moves forward with July fireworks plans

Celebrating the Fourth of July is back on the agenda for three Door County communities. The Village of Egg Harbor is proceeding with plans for its Independence Day fireworks show. That's still dependent on the COVID-19  pandemic.  The Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to spend $5,000 for the July 3rd event.  Interim Village Administrator Tom Strong recommended approval of a contract to help the pyrotechnic operator lock in the purchase price.

Village Trustee John Heller agreed and made a motion to move forward, which would also give the village a contingency plan.

July 4th celebrations are also back on the agendas in Baileys Harbor and Fish Creek.

Door County adds more cases with one hospitalization

Door County Public Health reported six confirmed cases out of 48 tests performed since Friday.  The active cases on Monday went up from 118 to 124.  The positivity rate was lower than most levels shown last week, reflecting 12.5 percent on Monday.  There was one additional hospitalization in Door County with no recent deaths noted.


The state disclosed 402 positive tests and three deaths on Monday, along with 34 more hospitalizations.


The Department of Health Services reported that Door County administered 2751 doses last week and has vaccinated 54.6 percent of its population with at least the first dose.  Kewaunee County has given the first dose to 32.8 percent of its residents and gave1,175 vaccinations last week.  


Kewaunee County Public Health offering immediate vaccine appointments

Connecting with people on the COVID-19 vaccine waiting list is the biggest challenge the Kewaunee County Public Health Department is facing in getting more shots in arms.  Public Health Officer Cindy Kinnard says the department is working to schedule the 50 or so remaining people on the waiting list.



Anyone over the age of 16 can schedule with the Kewaunee County Public Health Department for openings this Wednesday for the Pfizer Vaccine and Thursday for the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  Kewaunee County has been able to administer over 1,000 doses each of the past three weeks at the vaccination clinics.  Kinnard emphasizes that it is important for people to continue to mask up, socially distance, and practice good hand washing.  

Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week will be quieter

Door County Emergency Management Director Dan Kane says the annual statewide tornado drill will not include the traditional sirens sounding that occurred other years.  He says for the sake of less confusion, the sounding of tornado sirens will not happen on April 15.  Also, the interruptions of messages on radio and television stations for the emergency alert system will not be happening for Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state this Thursday.



Door County Emergency Management encourages you to set aside 15 minutes to practice tornado and severe weather safety during the standard set times of 1:45 pm or 6:45 pm. Kane stresses that everyone should have an emergency kit and emergency plan in place at home and in their workplace. Kane adds that Door County is looking at implementing a CodeRed system within the next few weeks to allow mobile device users to opt-in for weather, missing persons, and other emergency alerts.


Click here for news release 

Voter roll fight turns to local clerks

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Friday it will be up to the local clerks and not the Wisconsin Elections Commission to remove thousands of names off its voter rolls. According to the Associated Press, the high court’s 5-2 decision will keep approximately 69,000 names on the list and not have their registrations deactivated. Conservatives argued that the state’s election commission was breaking Wisconsin law by not removing voters who did not respond to a mailing done in 2019. Liberals believe the maneuver was being done to lower turnout for people who may have voted in favor of their candidates. The court says the duty of keeping the database up-to-date falls in the hands of not the WEC, but rather the state’s municipal clerks. Common Cause Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck encourages local clerks to reach out to people they know that have moved to make sure their information is up-to-date.

He adds there must be a legitimate reason for people to be removed from the voter rolls and not just because they did not vote in recent elections. The Wisconsin Legislature could approve measures to change the law, but Heck believes those actions would likely be vetoed by Governor Tony Evers.

Two lost hikers found safe

A pair of hikers in Baileys Harbor needed an assist from local emergency personnel to get back to their hotel on Saturday. The two hikers called the Door County Sheriff’s Department before 5:30 p.m. to alert them that they were lost in the woods. After providing dispatch with their coordinates, a search and rescue party involving the sheriff’s department, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Door County Emergency Medical Services, and the Baileys Harbor Fire Department was formed. Conservation Warden Mike Neal was able to locate the hikers and bring them to safety. Chief Deputy Pat McCarty says it was smart of the hikers to carry a cellphone with them and to stay put once they reported that they were lost.

McCarty added that the two hikers were given medical evaluations once they were brought out of the woods before they went back to their hotel for the evening.

Haunted Mansion permanently closes

There will be no final fright for the Southern Door Haunted Mansion after the event’s leadership announced on Sunday it would be permanently closing after a 14-year run.


In the release posted below, the leadership decided there was not enough interest generated to fill the vacant core leadership positions needed to run the month-long event. With the help of over 500 volunteers annually, the Southern Door Haunted Mansion raised over $415,000 for programs at Southern Door School District over the last 14 years. The organization thanked the community and sponsors for their support over the years. They also expressed appreciation for the owners of the former Quietwoods South Campground, which hosted the event every year. The owners of Door County KOA, which recently purchased the Quietwoods South property, had offered its facilities to continue hosting the event.


The Southern Door Haunted Manion was voted a Fan Favorite Northeast Region Haunted Attraction by 10 years in a row.  


Picture from The Haunted Mansion at Door County KOA Facebook page dated October, 20, 2017



DNR seeking hunters input

One of Wisconsin’s favorite past times, deer hunting, affects the lives of hunters and non-hunters alike, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants the public to weigh in on management. DNR Conservation Warden Chris Kratcha explains that people’s lives are impacted by deer in ways they may not even know. 



The County Deer Advisory Council is inviting everyone to give feedback on the preliminary recommendations provided by County Deer Advisory Councils for the 2021 deer hunting season structure. The online input tool for public comment will be available from April 12th to April 25th on the DNR CDAC webpage. All CDAC meetings are open to the public and will be held via Zoom. The DNR and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board will present the final county-level recommendations for final approval in June.


Shedding light on child sexual abuse

A Door County organization is promoting the social and the emotional well-being of children and families in the area communities by speaking out against sexual assault.  Milly Gonzales, executive director of Help of Door County, says it is important to raise awareness about sexual violence and inform the public of the ways to prevent it.  She says over 60 percent of childhood sexual abuse occurs within the home.



Gonzales shares some of the warning signs that a child may have been sexually abused.



Any one sign does not mean that a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests you ask questions and consider seeking help.  Gonzales adds that you should have ongoing conversations with your child about what is healthy and what is not.  April is National Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Awareness Month.  You can listen to the entire conversation with Milly Gonzales on the podcast page at   

Ash lays out upcoming projects

Travelers in Door County are going to notice roadwork happening on the peninsula starting this Spring. Door County Highway Commissioner Thad Ash mentioned the four marquee projects that will be taking place in Door County starting in April. 


Roadwork will be beginning on April 19 at County A and going all the way from County V in Jacksonport to County E, and will begin April 19th as they’ll be milling, putting two layers of asphalt down, shouldering, and doing paint markings. The expected finish date is June 7th. 


Work to Highway 42 from the north end of Sister Bay and going to Gills Rock is tentatively scheduled to start April 26th and expected to be done around June 1st. Crews will be milling out old pavement, re-shouldering, and marking. 


On May 4th on Highway 57 at the Mill Supper Club intersection in Sturgeon Bay and onto Summit Road in Bailey’s Harbor, crews will be milling off existing asphalt. They will also do guard rail repair, paving, shouldering, and installing rumble strips. The expected finish date is September 30th. 


Those three projects will be through the state, and the county personnel will have limited to no involvement. 



The last big project planned in Door County is work on County J by the Ahnapee River in the village of Forestville, and going east to County O. There is no schedule in place for this project yet but they will be doing bridge work over the river as well as storm sewer and curb and gutter work. There will also be removal of existing asphalt, regrading, and repaving at the location. This is expected to usually be passable but will shut down on occasion as well. For all projects, Ash asks for residents to be cautious when driving by. 



Work will be off over holiday weekends, which could mean low shoulders and construction signage to be aware of. 

Putting an end to distracted driving

The month of April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Sturgeon Bay Police Department is urging drivers to avoid phone use while driving. Captain Dan Brinkman notes that distracted drivers are bsomething the department sees at times when patrolling. 



Brinkman pushes for drivers to get to a stopping point or to safely pull over if there is an urgent need to use a phone while in a vehicle. He also notes that many newer vehicles do have bluetooth capability where people can take calls and talk hands free and keep their eyes on the road. Some indicators of an accident happening as a result of phone use is a phone on a seat or floor, or a phone activated in a text or call mode. 


Bird conservation a specialty for Sturgeon Bay

Caring for birds has certainly taken flight in Sturgeon Bay, and Bird City Wisconsin has noticed. The recognition as one of Wisconsin’s bird cities is from practices in Sturgeon Bay which aids the survival of local and migratory birds. The city applied for the honor, having to display practices in forestation management and providing protection for birds. Director of Municipal Services for Sturgeon Bay, Mike Barker, thinks this lets everyone know that Sturgeon bay does take pride in their preservation practices. 



The practices in place to help get this award are a broad list of techniques conducive to bird preservation. Some city ordinances include requiring trees to be planted, having heavily wooded city parks, removal and replacement of dead and hazardous trees, and other efforts. 



Barker doesn’t see these efforts by the city slowing down any time soon.


Forestville Millpond drawdown concerns persist

A local group against the current drawdown of the Forestville Millpond is raising more concerns this spring over the sediment buildup being found downstream in the Ahnapee River. Friends of the Forestville Dam President Terry McNulty, who is also the village president, believes the drawdown should stop immediately. He says the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has not responded to his concerns over environmental issues.



The drawdown of the Forestville Millpond is in its final stages of an overall four-year project designed to restore health to the body of water. McNulty shares other concerns surrounding the drawdown.



Door County's Soil and Water Conservationist Erin Hanson did not want to comment on the drawdown's current status. According to Door County's website, the drawdown that began in late 2019 is a temporary lower water level by opening the dam's sluice valve on the Ahnapee River. The purpose is to address shallow water depth, lack of abundance and diversity of native plants, a fish community dominated by carp, and poor water quality within the Millpond. The drawdown's proposed timeframe calls for it ending this September with post refills to then continue through 2023. A lawsuit issued last year by the Friends of the Forestville Dam against Door County to stop the drawdown is still in the courts. 

City making room for recycling

The city of Sturgeon Bay announced they’ll be providing a “cardboard only” recycling dumpster at their municipal services shop located on 14th Ave. This will be a trial period for them to gauge how residents use the service. This notion is due to the accelerated use of online shopping since the beginning of the pandemic, which has left residents with an excess of recyclable materials. After several people have contacted the city to notify them of this development, the city wants to prevent people from throwing recyclables in the trash, stating that it negates the reason for the recycling program. 


Hunters on lookout for toms

Hunters in Wisconsin are preparing for the challenge of filling their turkey tags which starts on April 21st. There also is a youth season for hunters aged fifteen and younger that runs from April 17th to 18th. DNR Conservation Warden estimates that there is approximately a twenty percent success rate among those with a turkey tag. Roughly 200,000 tags are issued in the state and around 40-50,000 turkeys are harvested. Even with a limited success rate, Kratcha says the satisfaction rate is high. 



A couple of factors contribute to the satisfaction rate, such as getting to be outdoors during the lively Spring period and the thorough pursuit. Turkeys make it a challenge, as they are very weary due to being heavily preyed on their entire life. They also have exceptional eyesight. There are still permits available for time period F, which is the last week-long period for the turkey season. A high priority for the DNR is that hunters take steps to remain safe, specifically avoiding red, white, or blue colors. Kratcha also mentions to be mindful of other hunters. 



The Spring season is limited to “tom” or bearded turkeys.


Shoreline erosion control project underway in Ephraim

Long-term shoreline erosion control and restoration work is underway in the Village of Ephraim.  The five-week construction schedule involves putting large stone walls in place in a northern section, a central section, and a southern section.  Each section is separated by a gap.  Shoreline Protection Committee Chair Ken Nelson says the nearly $400,000 project will also include a new public dock.


Once the erosion control walls are completed, sod and sidewalk repair work will be done.  Nelson says such work is not for public access areas like beaches.  However, he says it is designed to weather future years of high water levels.


The Village of Ephraim's shoreline erosion control and restoration project is expected to be completed in early May, just in time for summer tourism.

Sheriff reflects on mental health officer program

The momentum of police departments adding mental health officers to their response teams is nothing new for the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department. It has been eight years since the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department and the Kewaunee County Human Services Department received a grant to develop a plan to have law enforcement and mental health services collaborate on calls. Officers were sent to “Crisis Intervention Team” training where they learned how to identify different mental health symptoms and how to interact effectively for more positive outcomes. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says small departments need to have cross-training in both areas just because resources can be scarce.

Joski believes all law enforcement personnel should embrace the CIT philosophy through training to help them through volatile situations that may not be what they seem.



Recently, there has been a great deal of focus on those law enforcement agencies that are creating “Mental Health Response Officer” positions within their agencies. These are great initiatives in response to tragedies which have unfolded throughout our country over the past few years involving those struggling with mental health, and I have been asked on more than one occasion why we don’t do a similar initiative here in Kewaunee County. This is one of many areas that we here in Kewaunee County should be proud of the forward thinking and collaboration that is exhibited by our local public servants. It was back in 2013 that I wrote the following article, and I thought I would share it again to demonstrate our efforts over the past 8 years.


Our communities face many challenges and we in law enforcement work every day to meet those challenges. One of the major issues facing so many is mental health crisis. These events of mental health crisis have various sources varying from physiological to situational. They can be caused by traumatic events either recently or from the distant past. They can be the result of injury either physical or emotional. What they all have in common is the impact on the individual suffering from them as well as that person’s family and friends.


For many years the approach law enforcement took in approaching and dealing with Mental Health Crisis was similar to how we dealt with criminal behavior. We have trained to have a well defined response to those we interact with. When we see something other than normal behavior, we historically took that as a clue for deceptive and/or criminal behavior. It is unfortunate that most people in mental health crisis have been met with incarceration rather than consultation.


We are starting to see a change in these scenarios due to a heightened awareness of mental health illness, and the increased collaboration between law enforcement and mental health services. A few years ago Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department in cooperation with Kewaunee County Human services applied for and received a grant to address these issues and develop solutions. One of the components of the grant was sending all law enforcement officers in Kewaunee County to what is known as “Crisis Intervention Team” training. This is a weeklong training which introduces the officers to the variety of mental health illnesses, and keys to understanding both cause, and symptoms. By exposing the officers to this type of information, they can better identify these same symptoms in those they may come into contact with back in their communities, and interact effectively for a positive outcome. 


I was fortunate to have attended the most recent class held at Fox Valley Technical College. I can honestly say I came away from that training with an increased empathy for what a person goes through when suffering with such an illness, and a greater appreciation for what our officers face when approaching what may or may not be a very volatile situation.


We are only part of the solution however, and each one of us needs to better understand what our family, friends and neighbors may be going through in a mental health crisis, whether it be the result of post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or a crisis brought on by the loss of a loved one, or even financial stress due to job loss.


Thank you for allowing me to share this past article. Too often we think that because we are a small community that we lack the resources or initiative to stay on the cutting edge of the changes experienced throughout our nation. The continued universal training of all law enforcement officers in the CIT philosophy throughout Kewaunee County is another great example of how bigger isn’t always better.

New restaurant to feature local ag connections

A new restaurant opening west of Algoma this summer has a familiar Kewaunee County farm family backing it. Ebert Enterprises announced earlier this week it would be opening Homestead Kitchen and Tap on the corner of State Highway 54 and County Highway D, just a little ways away from its farm. The food will feature cheese made from the Ebert’s milk processor Agropur and beef from its own herd. It will also feature products from Salmon’s Meats, which the Ebert family purchased last year. Scott Prokash brings a wealth of experience to the role of general manager for Homestead Kitchen and Tap. He hopes it is a place where locals can feel comfortable and grab a good meal.

Homestead Kitchen and Tap is looking to open later this summer. In preparation, Prokash says they are already in the process of hiring cooks, bartenders, and wait staff for the venture.



Kewaunee County widening vaccine availability

The Kewaunee County Public Health Department is now accepting COVID19 vaccine appointments for anyone above the age of 16. On Wednesday, the county will be distributing the Pfizer vaccine, and on Thursday, it will be the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. People needing an appointment can schedule one by calling the Public Health Department. The department asks those who are on the waiting list but have received the vaccine elsewhere to update the health department so Public Health can remove them from the list. 

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