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News Archives for 2020-05

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.

"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.


YMCA reopening in phases in June

Door County YMCA members and guests can resume their workouts starting Monday, June 1st when it begins a phased-in reopening.  The Y will reopen both the Sturgeon Bay and Northern Door centers with reduced hours from 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM during the week and from 7:00 AM until 1:00 PM on the weekends.  YMCA Chief Executive Director Tom Beernsten says wellness center operations will be available to accommodate social distancing requirements.  From there, other facilities will gradually be reopened.



Beernsten says by mid-July classes and other programs will also be reopened.  He says cleaning and sanitation efforts will also be expanded to address health concerns.

Kewaunee County's unemployment rate third best in Wisconsin

The unemployment numbers in Kewaunee County ranked the third-best in the State in April.  The Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation announced that the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Kewaunee County was 10.2 percent and ranked only behind Lafayette and Clark counties.  The tripling of the Kewaunee County’s rate from March of 3.3 percent was due to claims coming from the Safe at Home Orders issued at the end of March.  KCEDC Executive Director Richard Baker says that the county’s manufacturing base was vital in preventing a more significant unemployment increase.



Baker says seasonal agricultural work helped to lessen unemployment claims, as well as the fact that Kewaunee County tourism does not get rolling until mid-June.  Door County reported a 20 percent non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate that tied for the 13th highest of the 72 counties in the state.  Wisconsin’s average was 14.4 percent for April.   


Luxemburg-Casco postpones graduation ceremony until August 2

As some area schools have adjusted and planned for graduation celebrations for the next two weekends, Luxemburg-Casco High School has decided to hopefully have a more traditional ceremony in August.  Glenn Schlender, superintendent of Luxemburg-Casco School District, says a task force evaluated surveys that were sent out to students and parents and set Sunday, August 2 as the date for graduation.  He says hopes are to utilize the football field to accommodate the event.



The ceremony would be moved inside the new gymnasium if the weather does not cooperate.  Schlender adds that if a second wave of health concerns arise and the August graduation ceremony cannot happen face-to-face, virtual recognition for the seniors would be conducted.  A scheduled parade was held on Wednesday evening through the downtown on Main Street in Luxemburg saluting the seniors.  







Cherry and apple trees reach blossom stage

The Door County countryside is beginning to be dotted with pink and white flowers as the area hits the early summer season. Cherry blossoms are already in full bloom in some spots along the peninsula with the apple trees not too far behind. Wood Orchard owner Steve Wood says it is rare that both types of fruit trees are at full blossom at the same time, but the bee activity and growing conditions have been just right.

Wood says the majority of his trees seemed to handle the winter well with only a few suffering minor frost damage. Cherries are on track to be ready by mid to late July and apples by September.

Burke goes the distance to honor coworkers

It was more than just a flag Door County Medical Center Telecommunications Specialist Jerry Burke carried with him during a run over the weekend. While completing the virtual Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, Burke carried a flag bearing the Door County Medical Center crest and messages of support from his coworkers. He hopes his small gesture of support for those working the front lines makes a big impact.

Burke’s flag-carrying is one of the examples of Door County Medical Center showing their support for their employees working during the pandemic. Dog parades and cards drawn by elementary school kids are just some of the other ways hospital officials have shown their thanks. Burke plans on carrying the flag again for his virtual editions of the Bellin Run and Crossroads Trail Run.


Photos submitted by Jerry Burke


Local scouts make big impact with virtual food drives

It was unlike any past Scouting for Food Drive, but area Scouts BSA troops and Cub Scout packs are still able to help support local food pantries in a big way. Troops across Bay-Lakes Council, which covers Door and Kewaunee Counties, raised thousands of dollars for food pantries in lieu of going door to door picking up non-perishable items.  Troop 1042 out of Luxemburg distributed flyers in the community in April asking for donations to be made directly to the food pantry located at Holy Trinity Church in Casco. Their efforts helped raise $1,055. Troop 1127 based in Kewaunee took a similar route, encouraging people to donate to the Lakeshore Community Food Pantry via a video posted online.  Twelve-year-old Issac Heidel says getting involved has been a learning experience.

Scouting for Food was not the only food drive the area missed out on this spring. Troop 1127 hopes their efforts can also make up for the loss of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger drive traditionally held in early May. 



Door, Kewaunee Counties slated for COVID-19 relief

Over $800,000 in grant money could be coming to Door and Kewaunee Counties to help cover the costs of their COVID-19 response. Governor Tony Evers announced the Routes to Recovery grants on Wednesday, which will provide $200 million in funding for costs not already covered by the state. Door County Administrator Ken Pabich says it will use its $465,778 to help cover expenses related to personal protective equipment purchases and sick leave for employees taking COVID-19 precautions.

Pabich says it has been keeping a record of the unbudgeted expenses related to its pandemic response so it can apply for the available grant money. Kewaunee County is eligible to receive $337,864 in grant aid from the program. You can read more about the Routes to Recovery grant program by clicking this link for counties and this link for individual municipalities .

Algoma's Soar on the Shore canceled

The Friends of Crescent Beach announced Wednesday that this year’s edition of Soar on the Shore has been canceled. The event was one of the last holdouts on the summer calendar as the Algoma Chamber already announced that Shanty Days would not occur. Cathy Pabich, a member of the Friends’ Steering Committee, says health concerns and financial worries contributed to the decision. Pabich says with businesses already stretched, it would have been the worst of all worlds to gather their support only to have to call the event off in the coming months. The Friends looked at self-funding Soar on the Shore but couldn’t make it work.


Pabich left the door open for something to happen in late summer, but any type of substitute would be more spontaneous and on a reduced scale.


Door and Kewaunee Counties each add new COVID case

Door County reported its 38th positive COVID-19 case on Wednesday, but it had to work hard to find it. The new tally is offset by 153 negatives. In total, Door County has run 1,445 swabs, with 189 still pending. Thirty-eight positives against 1,218 negatives equal just 3%, less than half the statewide average.

Kewaunee also saw another COVID-19 infection confirmed, bringing the total to 34. Almost 90 new negatives were registered, and the backlog of pending cases fell to 35. It has been two weeks since the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against the Governor’s Safer at Home order. Kewaunee County did not impose new restrictions and has not seen a sharp spike in cases. That is a good, albeit preliminary, sign for the county’s prospects heading into summer. No personal information can be released due to privacy laws.



Knights of Columbus celebrate founder's advancement to sainthood

The founder of the Knights of Columbus organization has been advanced for the future sainthood by Pope Francis.  On Wednesday, Pope Francis announced the approval of a miracle in the name of Fr. Michael McGivney that clears the way for beautification in the Catholic Church for the founder of the international organization.  John Teichler, Grand Knight of Council 2478 in Sturgeon Bay, says it is a special time for all Knights with the upcoming canonization of Fr. McGivney.



The cause for McGivney’s canonization started in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1996.  The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal organization that was founded in 1882 as a mutual aid society to assist widows and orphans.  


Nicolet Bank closes three Door County branches

Vice President of Commercial Lending at Nicolet Bank Jamie Alberts confirmed Wednesday afternoon that three branches in Door County would be permanently closing.


The bank is altering its footprint in the area by shuttering the Brussels, Fish Creek, and Ellison Bay locations. Alberts says it is important to note that it does not equate to a reduction in overall service to the community. He points to Nicolet’s work with the Paycheck Protection Program, which has made loans to 681 Door County businesses. The bank has also helped out clients where the PPP was not the best option. The Nicolet grant program comes with no terms and is not expected to be repaid. In Door and Kewaunee Counties, 141 businesses got just over $540,000 of grants in total.


*Photo courtesy of Nicolet National Bank website.

Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrates end of school year

Big Brothers Big Sisters has two types of mentors: Community-based, who are individual volunteers, and site-based, organized through the county’s school districts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all site-based activity has been halted with buildings being closed to the general public. Director of the Door County chapter, Patty O’Rourke, says that didn’t stop the group from celebrating the end of the academic year.


Community-based mentors are allowed to plan activities and meet with their matches as long as they follow recommended guidelines. Site-based mentors have been communicating through letters and emails as they try to provide support during a difficult time.


Miller Art Museum sees future for virtual gallery

Sturgeon Bay’s Miller Art Museum debuted a virtual gallery in early May that just might be sticking around. Its first exhibition was the annual Salon of High School Art, which features an eye-popping 200+ pieces. Director Elizabeth Meissner-Gigstead says many shows are less complicated and could efficiently utilize the new technology.


At some point, the museum’s operations will return to normal, but even then, the virtual gallery could prove an asset. Meissner-Gigstead envisions fall and winter shows catering to Door County’s sizable seasonal population outside of the busy summer months.


Kewaunee County parks open to the public

Kewaunee County announced Wednesday morning that several seasonal parks and recreational facilities are open to the public again. Riverview ATV Park is accessible for UTV and dirt bikes as trails have dried up following flooding from heavy rains in early May. Users must purchase passes, either day-use or seasonal, to take advantage of the park until mid-November. The lower portion of the nearby Bruemmer Park Zoo has also been reopened.

Promotion and Recreation Department Head Dave Myers says The ‘Burg Speedway has met the criteria to begin racing in mid-June. Spectators will be allowed for events, but at a reduced capacity. While many facilities are available again, public restrooms are still mostly closed, as is the playground equipment at county parks. 


Local school district still expects fall return

Sturgeon Bay School Board President Teri Hooker is expecting students to return to the classroom this fall. The Centers for Disease Control released guidelines earlier this month to help districts prepare for classes next school year. It suggested smaller class sizes and reduced bus seating which could mean a hybrid model with some instruction happening on campus and the rest through distance learning. Hooker says she remains hopeful that kids will be roaming the hallways come September.


Unlike other districts, Sturgeon Bay schools already broadcast their Board of Education meetings on cable and online. Hooker says that prevented the need for a dramatic change in procedure during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Photo courtesy of Sturgeon Bay Schools Facebook page.


Clay Banks looking for Emergency Declaration for road

A portion of the scenic South Lake Michigan Drive in southern Door County is being threatened by erosion and the high Lake Michigan water levels. At the Clay Banks Town Board meeting Tuesday morning, Town Chair Mike Johnson requested an Emergency Declaration. Severe storms last week caused the loss of trees and eroded tracks within a few feet of South Lake Michigan Drive. Johnson says the Emergency Declaration will have Door County Emergency Management Director Dan Kane work with the state to hopefully procure funds to protect the road from any further possible damage. Door County Highway Commissioner John Kolodziej notes that the county has been back yearly since 2016 to stabilize and make repairs on South Lake Michigan Drive. In other business, the Clay Banks Town Board requested assistance from the Door County Parks Department to help in the drainage of standing water on the south end of Lower LaSalle Road near the entrance to the county park.


(photo courtesy of Town of Clay Banks) 

Door and Kewaunee County COVID-19 update

Door County reported only one additional case of COVID-19 over the Memorial Day Weekend.  Door County's confirmed case brings the total to 37 on Monday.  Numbers reflected 160 more tests performed with a total of 1282.  There have been 18 total recoveries with 179 tests still pending.   Door County has had three COVID-19 related deaths with the last one on May 1.  Kewaunee County Public Health reported no new positive cases of COVID-19 on Monday as 69 more tests were performed since Friday.  According to the Kewaunee County website, a total of 33 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus with 687 negative tests and 55 still pending.  The one COVID-19-related death in Kewaunee County was back on April 13.  No personal information can be released due to privacy laws. 



Stress leads to "fight or flight" responses -- Mental Health Minute

Feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger can be overwhelming for some people during the COVID-19 pandemic.   Sturgeon Bay Psychologist Dr. Dennis White says that people can use self-care skills to help cope with the situations they are dealing with at home and work.  Hotlines and emergency call centers have received thousands of calls as a result of this pandemic.  Dr. White shares the two typical ways people respond during a crisis.


Dr. White adds that now that society is opening up in safer stages, people may still be scared and lash out in public by being more verbally or even physically aggressive.  He notes that relaxation skills can help you reason better and overcome the understandable stress we all face.  You can listen to Dr. White’s entire Mental Health Minute below.



Technology offers help with prevention

Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski believes technology can play a role in helping people. Earlier this month was National Prevention Week, which addresses the strides taken to address underage drinking, prescription and illicit drug use, alcohol abuse, suicides, and mental health. In some respects, Joski says the area has taken strides to improve while falling short in others. He says technology allows people to check in on each other and reach out when people are in trouble more readily.


Joski says the community has taken the biggest strides in addressing alcohol abuse and underage drinking, but can still improve on helping people through their mental health issues.




I apologize for being a bit late with this topic, but the need for awareness knows no boundaries. The week of May 10th through May 16th was designated as National Prevention Week bringing awareness to the many issues that our communities struggle with.

       Sunday was marked as Prevention and Cessation of Tobacco Use. We have seen an increase in awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use, however there is much work left to do in the area of youth tobacco use. On a similar note, while we have seen a marked decrease in the use of cigarettes in our society, a new health threat has emerged which has the potential for as much if not greater health risks, vaping. While originally  marketed as a safe option to smoking the multitude of chemicals and additives contained within these devices demand close scrutiny and oversight.

       Monday was marked as Prevention of Underage Drinking, which is an issue we have spent many resources in both education and enforcement and continue to reach out to the community to educate our young people about the many dangers and pitfalls of underage alcohol consumption. We have seen successes in this area as we now have the widespread adoption of school codes which hold the students accountable if they make the choice to consume alcohol. This message must be followed through in the home as well so that a consistent message is sent increasing our chance to truly influence our youth.

        Tuesday was marked as Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Use. This is notably our biggest challenge in our communities as we continue to see widespread use of varying drugs. Over the years we have seen the popularity of various narcotics come and go, but the presence of drugs in general continues to take its toll on both those who live with the addictions as well as those who die from them. We must continue our vigilance to the suppression and ultimately eradication of these drugs from our communities. These efforts must be two fold in that we work to eliminate the availability through enforcement while at the same time eliminating the demand through treatment. We are very fortunate to have professionals dedicated to each of these efforts in their respective disciplines.

         Wednesday was marked as Prevention of Alcohol Abuse. This issue is separate from prevention of underage alcohol because it is in fact its own serious issue facing those under the legal age as well as those who can legally consume. This issue includes such behaviors as binge drinking which unfortunately Wisconsin is rated as one of the top states for this behavior. This also brings awareness to alcoholism in general, which has claimed too many marriages, jobs, families, and even lives. Very few of us are able to say we have not seen this sickness affect someone, and we must call awareness to this issue even if that person is not receptive. I have always said, I would rather have someone angry with me and alive than to attend the funeral of a friend.

         Thursday was marked for Suicide Prevention. This is not always easy to identify and unfortunately is not recognized until after the tragic event. Our most effective tool to combat suicide is our own daily interaction with those around us. We must always be sensitive to what our family and friends are going through. What might seem like a small matter to us may seem insurmountable to the next person. Especially during these past few months of limited socializing, the potential for increased mental health issues is something we all must be aware of and willing to reach out to make sure our friends and neighbors know that we are all there for each other.

          Friday was marked as the Promotion of Mental, Emotional, and Behavior Well Being. While our well being in these areas may be directly tied to the decisions we make or the circumstances we find ourselves in, for some it is truly a medical condition. We must all be compassionate to those around us who may be suffering from a mental health condition which in many cases is only manageable through constant medical attention. It is important to note that wellness, which gets a great deal of attention these days does in fact consist of four distinct categories; Physical Wellness, Mental Wellness , Financial Wellness, and Spiritual Wellness. While we may go through highs and lows in each of these categories at any given time, each is there to support the other, and each requires practice and vigilance for success.

Door County Fair canceled

COVID-19 has claimed its ninth county fair after the Door County Fair Association decided to cancel its 2020 event. The decision was announced during Tuesday’s Door County Board meeting. Considering everything from the money involved to how to keep people safe, Door County Administrator Ken Pabich says there is just too much risk involved.

In a release from the Door County Fair Board, it said it would be "unfair to ask the community to financially support and participate during these unfamiliar times." Door County Board Supervisor and Fairest of the Fair coordinator Laura Vlies Wotacheck told the board she was applying for a $20,000 grant to help potentially set up a virtual option for exhibitors. The counties of Marquette, Dunn, Columbia, Dane, Green Lake, Sauk, Oneida, and Kewaunee have all seen their fairs canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Students, communities continue to feel Farm Tech's impact

Those three days in July may have been three years ago, but the legacy of Kewaunee County’s edition of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days remains prevalent in the peninsula. Money raised during the annual event has gone to fund projects like park improvements in northern Door County and the construction of an ice rink in Kewaunee. The committee also established $60,000 in scholarships for students looking to continue their education. FTD Executive Committee Secretary Aerica Bjustrom says these specific scholarships are for students on the back end of their post-secondary education.

Algoma’s Michael Moede, Denmark’s Jeremy Schlies, Kewaunee’s Brynne Wolfe, Mishicot’s Molly Thorne, and Luxemburg-Casco’s Taylor Paye and Kimberly Van Donsel are this year’s recipients.  The $6,000 awarded this year is part of a 10-year, $60,000 commitment to support area graduates.

Jacque wants to tackle unfinished business

The Wisconsin State Legislature calendar does not have anything scheduled, but state Senator Andre Jacque hopes his colleagues can tie up some loose ends related to COVID-19. Speaking earlier this month after the Wisconsin State Supreme Court made its decision regarding the Safer at Home Order, Jacque cited concerns about unemployment claims and mental health as issues that need to be addressed moving forward. He said there is a lot that needs to be done to help out small businesses, local governments, and state industries like tourism.

Jacque said he has asked the Legislature to be in session to pass a number of regular session bills involving agriculture, worker training, and COVID-19 response. According to the Wisconsin Radio Network, thousands of unemployed workers are waiting for benefits after over 439,000 people lost jobs in the state during the month of April.


Picture taken previous to March 2020

Name released in Liberty Grove car accident

The Door County Sheriff’s Department has released more details concerning Saturday’s fatal car accident in the town of Liberty Grove. Just before 7:15 p.m., first responders from the Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Fire Department, Door County Sheriff’s Department, and Door County Emergency Services responded to a crashed vehicle at a home off of Wisconsin Bay Road. Crews found 76-year old John M Smejkal of Ellison Bay pinned underneath his vehicle. The initial investigation indicates Smejkal lost control of his vehicle while backing out of his driveway and exited it while it was still moving. The incident remains under review according to a release from the Door County Sheriff’s Department.

Egg Harbor using Memorial Day weekend as trial run

The Board of Trustees for the Village of Egg Harbor met Friday morning with much of the discussion focusing on helping area establishments as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics included reducing licensing costs for serving alcohol by 50 percent. Another item that came up was allowing restaurants and bars to expand the area where their liquor license pertains to, including sidewalks and parking lots to enable additional outdoor seating. Trustee Angela Lensch says that the assumption is overall business will be down this year, but it could turn out differently.


The board agreed to direct village staff to research what is necessary to implement the changes discussed but is holding off on any potential action for now. Their next meeting is set for June 8th.


Bigger fish awaiting charter anglers

If good things come to those who wait, then anglers in Door and Kewaunee Counties will be in for a treat when “Safer at Home” restrictions are eased.  Charter fishing has been off-limits on parts of Lake Michigan during the pandemic.  That's helped improve salmon stocks this spring.  Kevin Naze, who helps organize the annual K/D Fishing Tournament each summer, says fewer fishermen and other factors should make for some great fish tales this year.




Naze says while salmon stocking resumes this year it will be several years before the younger fish reach trophy sizes.

Ridges Sanctuary reopening in phases

The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor plans to introduce itself again to the general public slowly. The nature preserve is not committed to a firm timetable. Instead, it hopes to graduate to fewer restrictions as the evidence permits while maintaining a schedule visitors feel comfortable with, says Program Director Katie Krouse.


Phase one will remain mostly virtual programming. Krouse says the trails are as busy as ever, even with the Nature Center closed to visitors.


Sevastopol school building construction remains on schedule

The Sevastopol School District celebrated the beginning of a construction project that will add a wing to the school building. Superintendent Kyle Luedtke says that unlike the work being done at Luxemburg-Casco, Sevastopol is staying true to its original schedule rather than see an expedited timeline. That's not to say things are happening in the original order planned. The heavy rain early last week forced the crew to shift its priorities, states Luedtke.


He reiterated that funds are already in-hand for the project, and budget adjustments related to the COVID-19 pandemic will not affect the work from being completed. 


SB parklets plan designed as a visitor draw

Sturgeon Bay restaurants and taverns on Third Avenue and the West Side could offer unique seating options for visitors and address health concerns.  The city's Parking and Traffic Committee will discuss a proposal to create “parklets” or temporary outdoor seating in parking spaces in front of participating bars or dining businesses.  Kirsten Reeths, the committee chair, says the concept has been used successfully in other communities.  She believes it could help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and give Sturgeon Bay an attraction similar to a popular Sister Bay eatery.




The parklets pilot program will be on the Parking and Traffic Committee agenda when it meets Tuesday, May 26th at 4:00 PM at City Hall on Michigan Street.  


(Parklet concept drawing courtesy Sturgeon Bay Parking and Traffic Committee)

Taking precautions during summer camp

Safety is the priority for the Door County YMCA as it prepares to offer camp at the Barker Center, Lansing Center, and Otumba Park in Sturgeon Bay. The Northern Door Y will offer a Trekkers camp for ages 7-12. Alyssa Dantoin, who oversees the Lansing Center, says there will be limits on how many children are in each classroom, as well as how many staff members interact with each child.


Northern Door Y Director Tyler Powell says some camps are easier to hit those benchmarks for than others. The Trekkers program, for example, can break up into groups defined by age since the development of a seven-year-old differs substantially from that of a 12-year-old. Camps begin in June.


Crossroads unearthing 19th-century structure tied to the canal

An archaeological dig began this week on the grounds of Crossroads at Big Creek, which could yield a glimpse into the life of the workers who built the Sturgeon Bay Canal. Program Director and Naturalist Coggin Heeringa says that Crossroads has already dated the building to the 1870s, but needs outside help to confirm that it is indeed the boardinghouse for the crew.


Heeringa has been recently shifted to Program Director at the organization and says the hustle and bustle of a dig is a nice departure from the quiet Learning Center. An average May would see at least 80 programs happen at Crossroads, all canceled or moved online this year due to COVID-19. The trails remain open.


Public transit organization promotes new executive

Door-Tran has promoted from within, filling its executive director position with a nine-year veteran of the organization, Nicole Voight. Rides have been down since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with people sheltering in place and doctor’s visits curtailed. Voight says that stepping into the role under such circumstances means that she has the opportunity to build on the changes mandated by Door-Tran’s agreement with the county and transform the entity to thrive in the coming years.


Voight has been a part-time employee since she became a mother and says it is a unique and exciting challenge to find the proper work-life balance.


Door County reopening a learning experience

Visitors who've longed to make a Door County getaway during the COVID-19 outbreak will finally get their chance this weekend with some changes in the rules.  Hospitality and retail business owners have guidelines on conducting safe business operations through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Steve Jenkins, Executive Director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation, urges businesses and customers alike to review those guidelines and prepare to learn as they go.




The reopening guidelines are available through the WEDC web site here

Algoma partially reopens public facilities

The City of Algoma Parks and Recreation Department is keeping most of its facilities closed until next month at the earliest, but not all. Playground equipment is once again available for public use, with the caveat that it will not be cleaned regularly. The marina office is also opening. Beach rentals, changing stations, restrooms, and the Algoma Youth Center will remain closed since sanitation is of paramount concern there, says Director Sara Robertson.


The Finance and Personnel Committee will reexamine its policy at a meeting scheduled for June 17th. The department is fully staffed for the summer season, and the YMCA’s meals program is expected to return in early July.


Firefighters battle Liberty Grove blaze

Investigators were at the scene of a Liberty Grove condominium Sunday morning after a fire damaged one of the unit’s deck and roof. Crews from several Door County fire departments including Sister Bay-Liberty Grove responded to the Liberty Park Waterfront Condominiums just north of downtown Sister Bay after 9 p.m. Saturday. What was originally a small propane-related fire turned much worse while crews were en route according to Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Fire Chief Chris Hecht. 


Responding firefighters were able to contain the fire primarily to where the blaze originated, but some of the surrounding units suffered some minor damage. No injuries were reported and the exact cause of the fire is under investigation. Several Door County departments helped including Ephraim, Egg Harbor, Sturgeon Bay, Southern Door, and Brussels-Union-Gardner. Algoma Fire provided support by being on call for Door County incidents while the other departments were tied up.


Finding other ways to serve those who serve

Adopt-A-Soldier Door County cannot begin care packages to local troops again until restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic are loosened, but there are still ways to help those who have worn the uniform. President Nancy Hutchinson says the organization is still accepting monetary donations to provide aid to veterans.


Adopt-A-Soldier has donated its store of food to charities serving needs in the community, including the Boys and Girls Club and Door County Meals Cooperative. Hutchinson says it was a no-brainer to support those who have helped make Adopt-A-Soldier’s mission possible the past 12 years. When safe, care packages will be prepared and shipped from the Door Bible Baptist Church.


Man dies in vehicle crash

A 76-year old man died in the town of Liberty Grove Saturday night after losing control of his vehicle. First responders from the Door County Sheriff’s Department, Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Fire Department, and Door County Emergency Services received the call just before 7:15 p.m. about a crash at a private residence near Wisconsin Bay Road.  Crews found the man pinned underneath his car after he lost control of it backing out of the driveway. The initial investigation points to the man stepping out of his vehicle while it was still moving. The name of the man has not been released.

Lake levels forecasted to remain at record highs

The Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District says it expects water levels on Lake Michigan to stay at record highs for several months. There is a cyclical component to Great Lakes levels annually, peaking in the summer after spring runoff and dropping back through the wintertime. As of May 20th, Lakes Michigan and Huron have already reached measurements equal to 2019's July peak. Chief of Great Lakes Hydrology Christopher Warren says the cure to bring the lakes back towards normal is a prolonged dry spell in the region. 


Warren says most other variables, such as temperature, have contradicting effects on the factors which drive water depth.


State parks expand to regular hours

The Department of Natural Resources began staffing state parks in Door County the first weekend in May. What was originally a “soft reboot” is now a full reopening. Hours of operation have expanded to normal, from 6 AM to 11 PM. All area parks are open to the public again on Wednesdays, welcoming visitors seven days a week. Whitefish Dunes Park remains subject to a capacity limit, says Supervisor Erin Brown-Stender.


Admission stickers have been required since early May, and the DNR reports a surge in purchases in recent weeks.


Ephraim fire trains before busy tourist season

The longer May days provide an excellent opportunity for training for public safety just before summer visitors begin arriving in Door County. Ephraim Fire Chief Justin MacDonald said that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the area departments had separate exercises this month. He describes what was worked on.


MacDonald says that spring is usually a quiet time of the year and that COVID-19 has not altered that. Activity tends to pick up through August, but MacDonald admits that this summer could follow a different pattern.


*Photo courtesy of Ephraim Firefighters Association Facebook page.


Group demands action on Forestville Flowage

The Friends of the Forestville Dam group has filed a Notice of Claim/Notice of Circumstances against in an attempt to stop a continued drawdown. Several reasons are cited, including procedural ones such as improper monitoring by the county. The organization says that even with the dam valve fully opened since November, the millpond is not draining. Christine Reid points to the heavy rain this week, which had water cresting overtop the dam by more than a foot.


The Friends group worries that invasive species such as lamprey eels are moving upstream into the millpond through the open valve. They say other negatives include polluted sediment traveling through the Ahnapee River system until it empties into Lake Michigan and the destruction of the millpond’s wildlife. Group President Robert Sijgers points out that herons and kingfishers used to be a common sight near the dam, but no more since the fishing population has dwindled. It wants to compel the county to end the project and commit to the dam’s future, including having a written agreement from local government officials to conduct necessary maintenance. The Door County Facilities and Parks Department did not provide any comment on the matter.


Photo courtesy of the Friends of Forestville Dam Facebook page from May 21st.


Holiday remembrances muted this year

The observance of this year's Memorial Day remembrances will look significantly different in Kewaunee County. There will be no parade in the City of Kewaunee; a decision made earlier this month when it looked like the Governor's "Safer at Home" order would still be in effect for the weekend. The county's American Legion posts are adjusting too, especially the Ernest Haucke Post #236 in Algoma. Commander Tracy Steiner says a video will be shared to the post's Facebook page for everyone to enjoy.


Steiner's son, Justin, produced the video. The Algoma Honor Guard will visit cemeteries Monday morning to fire a salute to the fallen.


Virtual art crawl still paying dividends

The Ellison Bay Arts businesses had a virtual art crawl last Saturday, taking the place of the typical in-person event, which is the unofficial start to the group's summer season. Spokeswoman Diane McNeil says it is still drawing new viewers on the Facebook page.


McNeil, who is a co-owner of Ellison Bay Pottery, one of eight companies that comprise the Arts group, says any sales this weekend will be happening outside. The store plans to set up a small tent that will feature its most popular items.


Sealing the deal for lodging guests health concerns

Door County lodgers are taking a simple step to reassure their guests' rooms are clean while also helping a local non-profit group.  Sunshine Business Services, a division of Sunshine House of Door County, is printing “Clean Seals” which are placed on guest room doors after cleaning staff has finished their work.  Jeremy Paszczak, Sunshine's sales, and marketing director, says the concept started with an inquiry from one motel and grew from there.




Sunshine Business Services provides vocational skills for Sunshine House clients. “Clean Seals” can be ordered by contacting Sunshine House on West Yew Street Sturgeon Bay, WI.


(Photo courtesy of Sunshine House of Door County)






Sturgeon Bay's "Emergency Management Team" put to the test

Like many other municipalities around the country, the last two months have given the City of Sturgeon Bay a challenge like never before.  Mayor David Ward declared an emergency on March 20 and immediately formed a task force to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Ward, along with City Administrator Josh Van Lieshout and Council President Dan Williams, became the core of the emergency management team.  Other members added later include Chief Financial Officer Val Clarizio, Sturgeon Bay Police Chief Arleigh Porter and Captain Dan Brinkman, and Fire Chief Tim Dietman.  Mayor Ward reflects on the three issues facing the city that the team looked to address after dealing with the spring election.



The Emergency Management Team met daily for the first several weeks and is currently meeting two or three times a week.  The City Council just approved changes to budgeted expenditures to offset an approximately $90,000 revenue shortfall caused by the COVID-19 fallout.  Ward adds that the city took two small steps to lessen regulations and fees for liquor licenses.  Other ideas include using more street area for restaurants and possibly closing down Third Avenue during the day on weekends so businesses can spread out to do business.  The Emergency Management Team will stay intact until at least June 18 after the City Council extended it for another 30 days on Tuesday.

Kayaking:  A Great Way to Social Distance

It’s a Memorial Day Weekend like no other Door County has probably seen in a very long time.  I hope everyone is safe, practicing social distancing and taking precautions.


Being safe, social distancing, and still getting out in our wonderful Door County just says kayaking and kayak fishing to me.  With our 300 miles of incredible shoreline, many great places to launch, your kayak, and the crystal-clear waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan it’s an invitation I’m not going to be able to pass up.  Add to that the fact that the smallmouth bass fishing is starting to take off is just another reason to hit the water.


Speaking of getting out in your kayak, water temperatures are still in the forties and low fifties.   So even if the air temps are warm, be sure to wear your PFD at all times, let someone know where you are going, especially if alone and put that cell phone in a dry bag or sealed plastic bag.  I would also suggest paying attention to the weather forecast and staying within a short distance of shore is also a good idea.  That way if the wind picks up or changes direction and you have a problem getting back to your launch point, you can always pull out and walk back to your vehicle.


Kayaking continues to be very popular and kayak fishing has taken off over the past half dozen years.  I’m seeing more kayak anglers on the water all the time.  If you’ve always wanted to give kayaking or kayak fishing a try, I’d suggest going online and doing some research.  There are also several Facebook pages dedicated to kayaking, like Kayaking Wisconsin and for fishing, the Wisconsin Kayak Fishing Club.  Questions are welcome and I’ve seen so many willing to share good information.


I’m excited to be sharing kayak and kayak fishing information with you on a bi-weekly basis again this year in the pages at  And, if you have questions for me you can email me at



COVID 19 Weekend update for Door and Kewaunee County

Door and Kewaunee counties reported a milder increase of COVID-19 cases on Friday compared to past weeks as the testing continues to ramp up.  Door County, which started the week at 32, added two new cases on Friday to bring the total to 37.  Testing numbers showed 1,122 which is an increase of 381 tests in just one week.  There have been 18 total recoveries and 281 tests still are pending.   Door County has had three COVID-19 related deaths with the last one on May 1.  Kewaunee County Public Health showed only three new cases this week with one reported on Friday.  According to the Kewaunee County website, a total of 33 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus with 628 negative tests and 64 still pending.  No personal information can be released due to privacy laws. 





B.U.G. to host propane fire training

Brussels-Union-Gardner Fire Chief Curt Vandertie is giving those near its station on May 27th plenty of warning about the 20 foot high flames they may see that evening. The B.U.G. Fire Department is hosting approximately 40 firefighters from other agencies in the area for propane fire training and a demonstration. The department is partnering with the Wisconsin Propane and Research Council for the training they have not hosted since 2008. Vandertie says serving a rural community makes propane fire training very important.

He adds that many local departments, including his own, have added new members recently, adding extra importance to the training. It is scheduled to take place at B.U.G. Fire Department’s station in Brussels on May 27th at 6 p.m.

4-H members go virtual

Kewaunee County 4-H Educator Jill Jorgensen was so enthralled with a household science experiment done by a club recently that she could have forgotten that she was not actually there. Like many organizations, 4-H members have had to rely on video conferencing to host club meetings and attend informational sessions. Counties have also relied on the state 4-H organization for other online learning tools to help keep their members engaged. Jorgensen says it has been exciting to see how 4-H clubs have been able to embrace technology during this time apart from each other.

4-H members around the state are anxious to see what events they will be able to participate in this year with several county fairs including Kewaunee County being canceled and the Wisconsin State Fair delaying its entry submission period.


Picture provided by Kewaunee County 4-H was taken last year



Chairperson thankful for Island efforts

As Washington Island begins to open, its town chairperson is thankful for the help organizations gave while it was virtually closed down. In a statement from the Town of Washington Board, it thanked the individuals that were a part of the various health care professional, business, volunteer, and grassroots support networks to help out in the community. Earlier this month, Town chairperson Richard Tobey highlighted the efforts of the Washington Island Community Health Program, its emergency responders, and its clinic as big reasons why they were able to get through the shutdown.

No cases of the coronavirus have been reported on Washington Island, but the town is still encouraging people to practice safe social distancing and personal hygiene measures as well as wearing face masks in public. The Washington Island Ferry has expanded its service in conjunction with the Safer at Home Order ending, adding two round-trips and a Friday night journey to and from Northport onto their schedule.

Restaurants reopen after coronavirus scare

While businesses across the state are taking the recommended precautions to protect employees and customers, two Sturgeon Bay restaurants are reopening after dealing with the coronavirus head-on. Culver’s and the McDonald’s location on Egg Harbor Road both voluntarily closed their doors last week after having team members test positive for COVID-19. The restaurants got thorough cleanings during their week closed while Culver’s owner Austin Hildebrand and McDonald’s operator Ryan Larson made sure they would be adequately staffed when they reopened. Hildebrand says they are taking more precautions to keep customers and employees safe while they go through the drive-through.

During its closure, Culver’s collected 100 items of food and will donate another $100 for Feed my People Clothe My People Door County.

Detours in Fish Creek modified this weekend

Construction on Highway 42 in Fish Creek and the Town of Gibraltar’s sidewalk project are progressing on schedule with a detour change upcoming. During the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the detour route for Highway 42 traffic will be modified. Starting at noon Friday through Monday, Highway 42 will be open to County F. The current detour route using County E and County A will be reinstated after Memorial Day. That will allow for the remaining work on the Town of Gibraltar’s sidewalk project. According to the Town of Gibraltar Project Manager Dennis Steigenberger, the town expects completion by June 5. After that work is done, the detour will be modified to County F and County A to allow for the remainder of the Wisconsin DOT project to be completed. That work should be finished by June 26.





Protect your pet during flea and tick season

Pet owners should remain vigilant about protecting their furry friends from the hazards of certain insects in the outdoors.  Dr. Jordan Kobilca from Door County Veterinary Hospital and the Luxemburg Pet Clinic recommends that heartworm prevention is done year-round and that flea and tick prevention is done through the late fall.  He suggests some tips on keeping your pet safe. 



Common signs of flea and tick presence on your pet can include excessive scratching, licking or biting at the skin, hair loss, scabs, and pale gums.  You can find more information on the recommended flea and tick prevention for your pet below.




Algoma Police Chief message for Memorial Day weekend

The Memorial Day weekend will have visitors and locals looking to enjoy more time outdoors around the peninsula.   After the “Safer at Home” order ended statewide in the past week, the City of Algoma has seen popular spots like the Crescent Beach Boardwalk utilized more.  Police Chief Randy Remiker reminds people to act responsibly and enjoy the warmer weather while practicing social distancing.



Remiker advises drivers and pedestrians to be mindful this weekend on the streets and crosswalks.



Remiker says he hopes to restart the monthly “Coffee with the Chief” program he began earlier this year soon.  


Wulf part of lawsuit against Powers, other health leaders

Seventeen Wisconsin residents, including Thomas “Cap” Wulf of Sturgeon Bay, have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the “Safer At Home” orders that were extended last week were unconstitutional.  Wulf, who owns Wulf Brothers, Inc., is a former City of Sturgeon Bay councilmember and chair of the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority.   According to, the lawsuit filed said that the orders forced business owners to close “under threat of imprisonment” and “forego their rights to free speech and religious exercise.”   It also says several county and state officials, including Gov. Tony Evers, “enforced unlawful local COVID-19 lockdown orders.” The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday and named numerous municipal public health officers around the state, including Door County Public Health Manager Susan Powers.  Several counties and cities extended a form of the state’s “Safer at Home” order after the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked it on May 13.

Kewaunee County to reopen government buildings

Another step towards normal in Kewaunee County will take place when it reopens its government buildings to the general public on June 8th. The county closed its facilities for in-person services with some exceptions on March 20th in its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Whether they were coming into the office or working remotely, Kewaunee County Administrator Scott Feldt saluted the employees across all of its departments earlier this spring for helping keep its operations running for its citizens.

All county services will remain available online and via the phone for those still not comfortable coming into the buildings.

Visitors want to see face coverings

Almost nine in 10 people in a Destination Door County survey said they would be willing to wear a face covering when visiting the area. The tourism organization had 10,000 people share their insights about traveling to Door County in 2020 as the country addresses concerns with COVID-19. Nearly 75 percent of respondents said it was important, very important, or extremely important for employees to wear a face covering to protect fellow workers and customers. Seventy-two percent said the same thing about visitors wearing face coverings. Jon Jarosh from Destination Door County says it is an encouraging thing for visitors and businesses to see.

Almost 70 percent of the people in the survey said they are still planning on coming to Door County this year whether it is when they originally planned their getaway or postponed it until later.


Click here to read the entire survey results


Hecht reflects on impact of Emergency Support Coalition

Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Fire Chief Chris Hecht has seen the phone calls drop recently for help from the Door County Emergency Support Coalition, but his appreciation for what the group accomplished over the last 12 weeks has only grown.  Over 600 people from across the county have helped the Door County Emergency Support Coalition serve others navigating the changes the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the community. Whether it was helping businesses find needy families in need of a great meal or being an empathetic listener for people to talk to, Hecht is proud of what they have been able to accomplish.

Even though its efforts are winding down, Hecht says volunteers will still be available to help provide emotional support, answer non-emergency medical questions, and deliver groceries and medication.



Dinner program ends, food pantry coalition begins

The Door County Emergency Response Fund is making sure needy families in the area do not go hungry once the Door County Meals Cooperative ends its dinner program next week. Beginning in mid-March, the Door County Meals Cooperative served approximately 750 free meals daily at sites across Door County and Algoma. The program ends on May 29th when the Boys and Girls Club of Door County transitions its kitchen to serve 800 meals a day for the YMCA’s summer lunch program.  Door County Community Foundation President and CEO Bret Bicoy says the newly established Door County Food Pantry Coalition will help make sure there is no drop in support for those families in need by having them work together.

The Door County Food Pantry Coalition is made up of eight food pantries spread out from Washington Island to Maplewood. 



Sturgeon Bay retail businesses ready for opening weekend

Destination Sturgeon Bay is asking people to be patient and abide by the safety guidelines set out by public health officials as local retail stores and restaurants open up and are ready for the Memorial Day weekend.  Destination Sturgeon Bay Executive Director Pam Seiler says her organization has been in constant contact with all their member partners the past nine weeks and believes the businesses are prepared to follow the recommended protocols.  She has a request for all people moving forward. 


Seiler notes that a lot of Sturgeon Bay restaurants are looking to offer open-air dining and café permit seating. Door County announced on Wednesday the guidelines and recommendations set forth called "Lets Safely Re-Open Door County."  


Historically low mortgage rates helping bring buyers back

Low interest rates are driving home purchases, both in the Door Peninsula and nationwide. In early April, the Federal Housing Administration's purchase activity index dropped by as much as 35 percent compared to the same time period in 2019. Last week, the index trailed the mark from a year ago by less than two percent. Sturgeon Bay realtor Ame Grail says there is one glaring concern, the number of people unable to access the market due to job losses.


Realtors have adjusted to showing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Viewings are by appointment only, and Grail says she makes sure to disinfect all surfaces in common areas after a visiting party has left, among other precautions.


Marinas ready for Memorial Day weekend

Boaters will have access to Door County waterways with some precautions this Memorial Day weekend.  Sturgeon Bay's marinas at Sawyer Park and Stone Harbor Inn are ready for launching, though signs are in place reminding boaters to use social distancing practices while still on land. Sturgeon Bay Public Works Director Mike Barker expects a good turnout from boaters who are tired of being cooped up and urges them to continue using safe health practices.




Day use and seasonal launching passes will continue to be available through fee boxes at each Sturgeon Bay launch site.


Photo courtesy of City of Sturgeon Bay website

Door and Kewaunee Counties each report additional COVID-19 case

 Door County's Wednesday update included one new COVID-19 case, the total rising to 34 overall.  Recoveries held steady at 14. There have been three reported deaths.  Door County has had a roughly five percent positive rate on the swabs examined to date. As of Wednesday, 337 tests are pending, which means it is likely that additional positives will be returning through the holiday weekend. HIPAA laws prevent personal details from being divulged.

Kewaunee County is up to 32 total COVID-19 cases, after reporting one more Wednesday afternoon. The county remains at one death, which occurred last month, and 65 tests are pending. 



Luxemburg-Casco Board of Education meetings get participation bump

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Luxemburg-Casco Board of Education has continued to meet in a physical location with the seven members and the District Superintendent present. Additionally, the gatherings have been broadcast online through Zoom. Board President Mike Driedric states public participation has increased over that period.


He says it is too soon to know if the online streams will continue, but Driedric is personally in favor of the idea. Having an engaged community has to be seen as a positive, says Driedric.


Diggers Hotline required before starting construction projects

Below-average temperatures are giving way to pleasant spring conditions across the Door Peninsula, and that comes with a reminder before you begin any yard construction projects. Wisconsin law requires individuals and firms to contact Diggers Hotline three business days before they break ground. Public Relations Director Chad Krueger explains what information you will need to know before you make the call or complete their online submission form.


Krueger says that the hotline must be utilized before every project. Once your local utility has highlighted any underground hazards with spray paint or flags, digging can begin. It is recommended that you avoid the marked area by at least 18 inches.


Gardner recycling event happening next week

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and the Town of Gardner is happy to facilitate electronics recycling for residents of the surrounding area. Big-ticket items such as appliances can be dropped off at the Gardner Town Hall May 30th free of charge, with a modest fee attached to the disposal of computer monitors and TVs. Plan Commission Chair Mark Lentz says the township allows residents of Door, Brown, and Kewaunee Counties to participate.


Gardner uses half of the proceeds for waterfront projects and donates the rest to the Southern Door Elementary STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). The event runs from 9 AM to 1 PM. 


State park stickers sales spike

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says people are showing strong interest in visiting state parks in Door County and throughout the state.  That's based on recent purchases of state park admission stickers.  Wisconsin state parks have been open to the public despite the “Safer at Home” restrictions.  Chris Pedretti, the Business Operations Chief with the State Park Section, says as milder weather has returned so has interest in getting into the parks.




Pedretti reminds visitors that park offices, campgrounds and restrooms remain closed.  So he recommends that pass holders visit parks closer to home.  Information on how to obtain park stickers is here.

KCEDC considers virtual reopening aid

Business owners could soon find virtual reopening help that also fits their schedules from the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation.  The KCEDC Marketing Committee is considering a combination of social media and online efforts to help local businesses decide the best approach to reopening.  Executive Director Richard Baker says such an effort would be an alternative to webinars and other options that are only available at set times.



Baker says if and when the KCEDC offers videos on safe business reopening on its YouTube channel, the details will be available via the KCEDC newsletter.


Pandemic to impact holiday travel as Door County opens

Forecast on the volume of travel during the Memorial Day weekend, especially in Door County, is anyone’s guess.  AAA has decided not to release a forecast for the first time in two decades.  AAA said in a written statement that the data to create the report had been undermined by the COV-19 pandemic, thus making it impossible to accurately predict the number of travelers heading out for the holiday weekend.  Door County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Pat McCarty reminds drivers to use extra care regardless of the traffic volume.



Last year, some 43 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles from home during the Memorial Day Weekend, which was the second-highest volume recorded by AAA since 2000.  You can find tips on safer travel with the link below from the Centers For Disease Control.   

Sturgeon Bay delays expenditures to offset COVID-19 impact

The Sturgeon Bay Common Council approved a resolution to put off certain budgeted capital expenditures on Tuesday night.  The vote was unanimous and was done to help mitigate the financial impacts the city is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic.  By delaying capital projects that include Skate Park lighting, constructing a softball field, and refinishing the floor of the East Side Fire Station, the city will realize $98,000 in debt service savings.  The City projected a loss of over $96,000 due to the pandemic. 


In other business, the City Council extended the Emergency Declaration for another 60 days and kept the newly created Emergency Management Team intact.  The team consists of Mayor David Ward, City Administrator Josh Van Lieshout, and Council President Dan Williams.  

The council also approved the agreement between the City of Sturgeon Bay and the Sturgeon Bay School District for the School Resource Officer position the is currently vacant.  The full-time officer’s salary and benefits would be paid three-fourths by the school and one-fourth by the City.


After the 90 minute meeting, the Sturgeon Bay Common Council convened into closed session to discuss consideration to purchase property owned by Hill Crest Court and also a settlement agreement with Lewis Krueger and AAK Holdings.  The Council did not take any action after the closed session.  

 "Let's Safely Re-Open Door County" guidelines released by Public Health

Door County has announced the new guidelines and recommendations to open up Door County immediately.  In a news release Tuesday afternoon, Public Health Manager Susan Powers issued the “Let’s Safely Re-Open Door County” that supersedes the interim order handed down last Thursday.  The basic recommendations follow the guidelines set down by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.  Compliance with the guidelines is highly recommended and voluntary. If non-compliance persists a targeted order may be issued later, the news release states.  You can find the entire guidelines for opening Door County below.   



Let’s Safely Re-Open Door County news release


Farmers taking advantage of weather

Before the saturating rains of Sunday and Monday came, area farmers got the break they were looking for to get out into the fields. Thanks to almost two weeks of little to no rain, Rio Creek Feed Mill agronomist Adam Barta predicts about two-thirds to three-quarters of area fields are already planted. That is certainly up from last year at around this time when the United States Department of Agriculture reported that between 20 and 46 percent of fields containing key crops like corn and soybeans were planted. Even with some cold days popping up in the last month, Barta says farmers are much more optimistic this year.

Barta hopes the rain recedes quickly in some fields so farmers can plant if they have not yet and to allow the seeds already in the ground to germinate.

Sheriff takes pride in his department

Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski did not need a pandemic to know how essential the members of his department are to the community. From patrolling streets to working in the dispatch center, being a member of local law enforcement does not just take place when you are on the clock. It's a 24/7 commitment. Joski applauds how his department has responded with all the changes taking place due to the ever-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.


May is traditionally marked as Law Enforcement Appreciation Month, but due to the pandemic, there will be no formal recognition or memorial events. You can listen to the rest of Joski’s salute to law enforcement online with this story.



Response fund offers rental assistance

Those facing the prospect of homelessness in Door County due to the pandemic can get some much-needed help. The Door County Community Foundation and the United Way of Door County have partnered with Lakeshore CAP to offer rental assistance to those leasing units in the area and have seen their savings accounts dwindle to almost nothing over the last few months. Door County Community Foundation President and CEO Bret Bicoy says many of the people in need of rent relief are in the current predicament through no fault of their own.

The Rental Assistance Program through Lakeshore CAP and the Door County Emergency Response Fund is not a government program but rather funded through the donations of private individuals. 



COVID-19 recommendations coming to Door County

The Safer at Home Order for Door County will not be extended when the public health department releases its plan moving forward in the next two days. Door County Public Health Officer Sue Powers explained during her weekly Facebook Live session with Door County Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Heise that more time was needed to get a plan in place for businesses to follow after the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided the Safer at Home Order could end. The counties of Dane, Eau Claire, Green, Milwaukee, and Rock are the only other ones under some sort of Safer at Home order as of Tuesday. With help from some guiding principles laid out by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Powers said it will take a grassroots effort to control the spread.

Heise supports the reopening of the counties, but hopes people take preventative measures like wearing a mask and practicing social distancing seriously over the next several weeks.



Kitchens introduces bipartisan bill on elections during emergencies

District 1 Rep. Joel Kitchens, Republican from Sturgeon Bay, and Rep. Stausch Gruszynski, Democrat from Green Bay, introduced a bipartisan bill on Monday to ensure Wisconsin is better prepared to hold an election during a public health emergency. The proposal would require the Wisconsin Elections Commission to send an absentee ballot application to all registered voters who do not have one on file. It would also require one polling place to be kept open for every 12,000 legal-voting age citizens in a municipality. The WEC would also have the right to waive the witness signature requirement on absentee ballots in an emergency. Rep. Kitchens says the issues and challenges during this past April’s election during the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a bipartisan solution for the next state of emergency.



Provisions in the bill would go in effect if a governor declares a state of emergency and if the Wisconsin Elections Commission also approves of conducting an election consistent with the changes in the proposed legislation.  Kitchens adds that an all-mail-in election would be too difficult to implement quickly, and would eliminate same-day registration.  The full press release is below. 


Bipartisan bill to address elections during emergencies 



Balancing safety with good mental health -- Mental Health Minute Series

As stay-at-home orders are being lifted locally and around the country, a Sturgeon Bay psychologist suggests finding anxiety in small doses and the right situation can be useful for you in a protective way.  Knowing when the rational concern for safety crosses the line and becomes an obsession with cleanliness is a delicate balance.  Germaphobia is a fear of contamination and germs.  Dr. White quotes a noted expert in anxiety on these concerns.



Dr. White adds that most experts agree that although some people may develop germaphobia as a result of COVID-19, the most likely outcome is that we will change positively by developing better hygiene habits.  You can listen to Dr. White’s entire Mental Health Minute below.




COVID-19 Update:  Door County stays at 33 cases, Kewaunee County adds one more

After a surge of ten COVID-19 cases late last week Door County reported no new cases on Monday afternoon while Kewaunee County reported one additional new case.  Door County performed 151 additional tests since Friday, reflecting a total of 892, but 253 tests are still pending.   There have been 14 recoveries with 16 active cases and three COVID-19-related deaths in Door County.  Kewaunee County now has 31 positive cases of COVID-19 with 492 negative tests, according to the Kewaunee County website.  There are 63 tests still pending in Kewaunee County.  The one COVID-19-related death in Kewaunee County was reported last month.  No additional information about the cases is available due to privacy laws. 





Hauser steps in as interim director at Crossroads

Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve has new leadership in place with Laurel Hauser named as the new Interim Executive Director on Monday.  Director Coggin Heeringa has accepted a newly created position as Program Director and Naturalist.  Hired as Crossroads' first director in 2001, Heeringa has expanded Crossroads' programming for area schools with educational opportunities like archaeology and astronomy.  Hauser, who has worked closely with Heeringa the past few years, shares her vision for Crossroads going forward.



Hauser was most recently the assistant director at the Door County Land Trust and has volunteered with numerous Door County nonprofits.  Crossroads at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay has nearly 200 acres spread over three preserves.  The Collins Learning Center is closed during the current health crisis, but the nature preserves and trails remain open to the public.





Hauser Accepts Interim Executive Director Role of Crossroads at Big Creek


Sturgeon Bay, WI. The Board of Directors at Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve, in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is pleased to announce a new staff structure that will allow the organization to grow while taking advantage of its strong history. Matt Luders, board president, announced that Laurel Hauser has taken the role of Interim Executive Director. Hauser was hired in April of 2019 as Assistant Director after many years with the Door County Land Trust and volunteer involvement with numerous Door County nonprofits. Director Coggin Heeringa has accepted a newly created position as Program Director and Naturalist. 


“We couldn’t be more pleased with this arrangement,” said Luders. “Crossroads has been a beloved community treasure for so long and is growing. The board and staff have been working very hard, collaboratively, to make sure that we’re set up for sustainability. We are confident in Laurel’s experience and fresh perspective and the opportunities that she will help create. And, we’re thrilled that Coggin will utilize her expertise and continue to be an important part of ushering us into our next decade. We honor the leadership she’s provided for almost 20 years.”


Heeringa was hired in 2001 as Crossroads’ first director, and until 2017 was its only full-time staff. Under her leadership, Crossroads grew from 60 acres on one preserve to just under 200 acres spread over three preserves – Big Creek, The Cove and Ida Bay. Crossroads also expanded its programming, welcoming students from every area school and offering innovative and unique educational opportunities like archaeology and astronomy. Crossroads hosts hundreds of community programs each year and is home to numerous scientific research projects. Crossroads is pleased to receive support from more than 600 households allowing it to be open to the public at no charge.


Prior to directing Crossroads, Heeringa was an environmental educator and the naturalist at Newport State Park. For seven years, she taught Music and the Gifted and Talented program for the Sturgeon Bay School District. Since 1967, she has also been the instructor of environmental education at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan.  


Heeringa explains, “I am confident that Laurel will successfully lead us into the future, and I’m pleased that I can continue to do what I love: biological research and developing and offering programs for learners of all ages. And, I happily anticipate working with our Land and Facilities Manager Nick Lutzke, contractors and volunteers to restore Crossroads to a healthy, diverse wildlife habitat.”


Heeringa and Hauser have worked closely together for the past year. “I’m grateful to Coggin for her vision and dedication and for all she and previous board members have accomplished,” Hauser said. “I’m also excited about our future. We’ve just adopted an ecological restoration plan that will engage families and volunteers in land stewardship, and we’ll be unveiling a new trail map soon that highlights our natural habitats. We have a great team and we’ll be continuing to expand the ways in which we can serve our community.” 


Crossroads invites the community to visit and spend time outdoors. While the Collins Learning Center is closed during the current health crisis, the preserves remain open. “We’re pleased to be able to provide a safe outdoor experience in this time of great need and we look forward to resuming programming and all of our other offerings in the future,” said Luders. 


Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve is located at 2041 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Crossroads is a 501(c)3 organization committee to offering education, conducting research and providing outdoor experiences to inspire environmental stewardship in learners of all ages. Crossroads trails and preserves are open daily from dawn to dusk at no charge. For more information, see or call (920)746-5895.





City trims capital expenditures

Making improvements to the shoreline and city buildings and installing pickleball courts will be included in the plans for 2020. Refinishing the East Side Fire Station floor, constructing a new adult softball field, and installing new features at the skate and bark parks will be pushed off for at least a year. City administrator Josh Van Lieshout says deciding which projects to keep and which to hold off on for now was tough.


The common council will also consider extending the city’s emergency declaration and entering into a school resource officer agreement with the Sturgeon Bay School District when it holds its meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The council chambers will be open for the public to observe and comment on agenda items only, but it will be live-streamed as well.

Reserving pews as churches open up

Churches in Kewaunee County are looking into ways to safely reopen to its members after the Safer at Home Order was lifted last week. According to the “Moving Kewaunee County Forward,” guidelines, churches can have up to 50 people attending services while encouraging social distancing among households. There will be no hymnals or bibles to worship with and other common practices will be removed from services in efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church will expand its weekend service schedule from one to three so more people can attend. People wishing to attend will have to reserve a spot. Pastor Joel McKenney says they based their decision on member feedback.

McKenney says for members still uncomfortable about going to church, they will continue to live stream their services on their Facebook and on 96.7 WBDK for the immediate future. Catholic churches across the Diocese of Green Bay will start with communion services on May 30th before they begin offering full masses.


Photo Courtesy of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Algoma



Departments train with distance

Most springs, fire departments from around the county work together to refine their skills ahead of a busy summer. Training this year, however, will be different than most as departments will be practicing social distancing as well. That means smaller groups working together to complete their training during the week or completing some activities virtually. Gibraltar Fire Chief Andy Bertges says their training officers are up to the challenge.

Bertges expects it to be a long time before some of the cooperative training exercises they used to do as a larger group can take place. The Gibraltar Fire Department recently did training for rescues at Peninsula State Park and with their own engine and tender operations.

Flood warning issued for Door, Kewaunee Counties

Heavy rain and strong winds have put much of northeast Wisconsin including Door and Kewaunee Counties into a flood warning. The National Weather Service predicts that over an inch of precipitation could fall before rain subsides on Tuesday morning. With wind gusts reaching 35 miles per hour, the lakeshore flood advisory for Door and Kewaunee Counties is set to expire at 7 a.m. Tuesday. The Kewaunee County Highway Department was forced to re-close a portion of County Highway E Monday morning after the Kewaunee River overflowed its banks. The Door County Sheriff’s Department also reported standing water on some county and town roads in addition to down tree branches.


Photo courtesy of the Door County Sheriff's Department



COVID-19 liability still a concern to businesses

Tuesday afternoon, during a Zoom meeting organized by State Representative Joel Kitchens, another area lawmaker said he was not optimistic about the prospects of legislation designed to protect businesses that reopen from liability if a worker or patron contracts COVID-19. State Senator Andre Jacque says that with the legislature operating remotely, controversial subjects are nearly impossible to get through, especially if it is under the threat of a veto.


Jacque reminded others on the call that the issue is being debated at the federal level as well so a solution could come from Washington D.C. 


Algoma Chamber tries to turn cancellations into a positive

Earlier this week, the Algoma Chamber of Commerce announced the cancellation of its summer calendar, including the popular Shanty Days celebration, but out of that adversity comes opportunity. Executive Director Kay Smith says that when the events return next year, the intention is for them to be bigger and better than ever.


Smith says other options are on the table as well, including adding new festivals in the fall and holiday seasons when things are hopefully closer to normal. The Chamber is not directly involved with Soar on the Shore and other events. No decision on their fate has been made yet.


District lets students decide how they're graded

The Gibraltar School District is implementing a new grading policy due to the challenges in providing instruction this spring. Elementary school teachers will offer a narrative grade that gives guidance to next year’s instructor on each student’s progress and areas where improvement is needed. Older students can choose to be evaluated traditionally or on a pass/fail basis, says Superintendent Tina Van Meer.


Van Meer insists it was the students who asked for a regular grading scale option. The district will be moving from a valedictorian system to a tiered honor roll similar to college, where students can obtain cum laude distinction.


Supplier works to aid farmers and pantries

The Kewaunee County Food Pantry, like others statewide, is working harder to meet increased demand while dairy farmers are also working harder to fill gaps for lower demand for milk and cheese.  So, Feeding Wisconsin, which supplies the six Feeding America warehouses in the state, is stepping in to help meet both needs.  Feeding Wisconsin's Executive Director Stephanie Dorfman says the organization is boosting its fundraising efforts to increase purchases of Wisconsin farm products and keep pantries stocked to meet demand from those in need.




Dorfman says any cash donations from people can aid Feeding Wisconsin's efforts to maintain steady food supplies to local pantries.

Algoma City Hall reopens Monday

Kewaunee County governments are moving cautiously to open public buildings in contrast with area companies who are excited to get back to business. The public will have access to Algoma City Hall Monday, but Administrator Jared Heyn says he does not expect other facilities to follow suit. 


The timeline will be determined at Wednesday’s Finance and Personnel Committee meeting. County government facilities will also be reopening slowly as will the City of Kewaunee’s public buildings.


Preserve's birding plan takes flight

The Washington Island Birding Festival was initially scheduled for this weekend, and other area nature organizations are trying to fill that void. The highlight for the Birding Festival is a wide variety of warblers that can be found migrating at Crossroads at Big Creek as well. Director Coggin Heeringa says that a four-year restoration project aims to make Crossroads a birding destination.


Heeringa says the outdoor trails are getting a lot of use during the “Safer at Home” era, and Crossroads still intends to host a 10k trail run in mid-June.


K/D Salmon Tournament on as planned

Kewaunee/Door Salmon Tournament organizers say, for now at least, it's blast the pandemic and full speed ahead for the annual summer event.  The 38th annual tournament is set for July 17th through the 25th.  Kevin Naze helps organize the derby and says the current operations comply with pandemic restrictions.  He adds some launch ports are already taking their own steps to ensure the safety of anglers and others involved.




Naze credits the larger fish sizes to charter restrictions in southern Lake Michigan during the pandemic and recent fish stocking.

Road closed signs not meant to be suggestions

The City of Sturgeon Bay is seeing too much thru-traffic in its construction zones from motorists. Engineer Chad Shefchik says the intersections being worked on this year see a lot of usage, so the adjustment is more difficult.


There are dangers to driving through a construction zone. Debris and foreign objects are a hazard to vehicles. Workers are put in jeopardy when they have to try to complete their jobs as they deal with unnecessary traffic. Lastly, it is an inconvenience. Mill and pave projects often tear up the road and curb from the foundation, making it impossible for cars to get through. Having vehicles be forced to turn around inside of a work area only increases frustration for drivers.


Libraries begin to appreciate books again

Books have always been the primary concern of a library, but over time other trends have taken hold. In recent decades, floor space has transitioned from shelves to computer terminals for internet access or activity spaces for all ages. Children’s Librarian Linda Aulik, who works in the Kewaunee branch, says that interlibrary lending has been curtailed during the COVID-19 shutdown.


“Make and take” events are still months away, maybe years. So are board game parties and children’s storytime. Capacity limits will be set to ten patrons upon reopening, which reduces the number of computers needed. With libraries only able to lend out books from their own catalogs, the incentive, at least in the short term, is to have as many books on hand as possible to fulfill customer needs.


Church micro pantry meets big need in Brussels

St. Francis and St. Mary Parish in Brussels is now meeting the spiritual and temporal needs of its community.  That came about when a member of the Brussels Gossip page on Facebook asked whether there was a little food pantry in town, similar to a little library.  After it was determined there was none, the parish community and Father Edward Looney saw an opportunity to fulfill Jesus Christ's command to feed those in need.  The Little Food Pantry was erected on May 8th in front of the church on Cemetary Road in Brussels.  Father Looney says it's had an immediate impact.




Tim Buhr, a construction company owner, provided the building materials and his workshop to the project.  He was aided by a St. Francis and St. Mary parishioner and Father Looney, who followed the Lord's pre-ministry lead as a carpenter.  The pantry is open to anyone to take what they need and donate whatever they are able.

Ticks set to return with warmer weather

Kicking off the second half of May, tick season returns to Door and Kewaunee Counties. The area is classified as being under a moderate threat for the worst tick-borne illness, Lyme disease. Door County Public Health Sanitarian Chelsea Smies says the insects are most prevalent in brush.


Record low temperatures mid-week have helped rein in grass and foliage growth. Ticks are not able to survive hard frosts and freezes, something seen by most areas in the Door Peninsula outside of the lakeshore. That may keep the parasites at bay longer than average this spring. 


Salon of Door County High School Art continues online

The Miller Art Museum remains closed to the public, but you can find a nearly perfect replica online, complete with a new display. The 46th Salon of Door County High School Art has been available at the Miller’s website since May 11th. The museum teamed up with a London-based web designer to recreate the building’s interior and scan in this year’s pieces. Director Elizabeth Meissner-Gigstead says the challenge was not knowing the exact dimensions of the art. That was the only liberty taken in order to make the show as immersive as possible.


Meissner-Gigstead says many volunteers are in the risky 65 and older category, so the museum is not rushing to reopen to the public. The Miller is looking at the possibility of having more online-only galleries later this year. 


Online grocery shopping taking off locally

A national surge in online grocery shopping boosted by the high demand from the COVID-19 lockdowns has benefited one Kewaunee County grocer who implemented the service recently. 
Stodola’s IGA in Luxemburg started its online shopping service in late March when most people began sheltering at home.  Online grocery sales, which grew 22 percent last year, has seen a 40 percent increase this year, according to the Coresight Research U.S. Online Grocery Survey 2020. 
The survey showed that over half of all consumers bought groceries online in the past twelve months.  Alex Stodola, manager of Stodola’s IGA, says after a year and half of planning the online shopping program is working well.



Stodola says customers are utilizing e-commerce, ranging from young to old.  The Coresight survey showed that online shopping accounted for about 2.6 percent of the national food and beverage retail sales last year, with a projected rise to 3.5 percent this year.   

Hotels and restaurants ready for reopening

As hospitality businesses in Door County phase into reopening their establishments, hotel and restaurant managers are working through the details of operating under capacity limits and proper social distancing with additional safety measures.  Stone Harbor Resort General Manager Nancy Beertz says many improvements were made to the facility the last few weeks while the business was temporarily shuttered including a revamping of the ballroom with new flooring, wallpaper, and light fixtures.  She notes some of the procedures that will be implemented to protect their guests when they reopen.



Occupied rooms are staggered after the guests leave for two days to allow for adequate cleaning.   Stone Harbor plans on opening the hotel next Wednesday and Beertz says they have already booked rooms for some essential workers.  The restaurant will reopen on Thursday, May 21.  


(photo courtesy of Stone Harbor Resort)


Door County reports more COVID-19 cases Friday

The COVID-19 tally continues to grow in Door County with four new cases reported by the Public Health Department Friday evening. That’s in addition to six from Thursday, which remains the highest single-day number since the outbreak began in March. Door County now has 33 total cases. Of those, 16 are active with fourteen recoveries and three deaths. While Kewaunee County is reopening, Door County is moving slower to combat the recent COVID-19 spike driven by workplace clusters at several employers in Sturgeon Bay. HIPAA laws prevent the release of additional identifying personal details.


Folk musician Katie Dahl taking show on the "road"

Door County musician Katie Dahl is taking a creative approach to playing live for audiences while concert halls and music venues remain closed around the area.  Dahl is scheduling Curbside Song Dropoffs all around Door County.  Dahl explains how the performances work.



Dahl, who plays folk music, was to travel and perform around Europe back in March when the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed that, and she had to return home.   Spending a lot of her time songwriting and parenting the past two months, Dahl eagerly awaits performing again to broader audiences in more traditional settings.  Her album “Wildwood” has been on the national Folk Radio Charts for eight straight months.   

Door County counsel believes temporary order will stand

Brown County’s rescinding of the “Safer at Home” order on Friday will not influence the decision that Door County made on Thursday to follow the state’s directive for six more days.  Anna Destree, the Brown County Public Health Officer, rescinded the order after consulting with other officials and deciding that the legal basis of the order was not strong enough to withstand legal challenge.  Door County Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas says he believes that the order issued Thursday was within the scope of Public Health Director Sue Powers’ authority.  He shares the rationale behind the six-day temporary order.



Door County will announce their new plans on opening businesses by 5 pm next Wednesday.  Kewaunee County chose to issue Moving Forward guidelines on Thursday that provides only recommendations for the reopening process. The statewide “Safer at Home” order was to expire on May 26 before the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the proper rule making process was not followed.   


Washington Island School graduation a family affair

The uniqueness of the graduation ceremony at Washington Island School was granted long before the COVID-19 pandemic closed the building in March. For starters, the class of 2020 is just two students and its commencement is traditionally more than just handing out diplomas and turning tassels. It also usually entails a community dinner, a quilt presentation, and a celebratory dance. A virtual ceremony is in the works this year, though principal Michelle Kanipes says the occasion will have extra meaning for UW-Madison bound Rylee and future NWTC firefighting student Evan.

In addition to the Lux family, the virtual ceremony will also honor Alissabeth Mohn, who opted to graduate early to join the military. The graduation will take place on June 5th.  

Door County businesses outline cleanliness standards

Door County businesses hope to partner with the general public to help prevent infection in the community. Created by the Door County Long Term Recovery Task Force, the initiative entitled “Commitment to Cleanliness & Safety Door County” outlines several recommendations for businesses and their customers. Wearing a mask when in close proximity to other people, maintaining six feet of social distancing, and hand washing are some of the common practices recommended. The pledge also includes screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 and disinfecting surfaces according to CDC guidelines. Jon Jarosh from Destination Door County says the initiative hopes to keep people safe as the area slowly reopens.

Additional recommendations will be released over the next week before Door County’s Safer at Home Order expires on May 20th. 


Click here to read about the full initiative 

Catholic churches plan ahead

Area Catholics could be getting communion for the first time in over two months by the end of May. The Diocese of Green Bay released details of their plan for moving forward on Thursday. Catholic masses could head outdoors so people can worship in person and communion would be made available with the proper safety precautions. Pastor Daniel Schuster of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Luxemburg and Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Casco says this would let more people be a part of the mass than just those serving near the altar.

Schuster hopes to be able to hold an outdoor mass on Memorial Day at area cemeteries and offer communion on May 31st, pending any additional local or state decisions. The “Moving Kewaunee County Forward” plan allows churches to limit gatherings to 50 people or less and discourages shaking hands and using a communal cup.


Holy Communion Services to Begin Pentecost Weekend | A Message from Bishop David L. Ricken from Diocese of Green Bay on Vimeo.


Courts workaround pandemic challenges

Circuit courts in Door and Kewaunee counties are navigating new channels during the pandemic to ensure defendants' trials are held within 60 to 90 days. The Wisconsin State Supreme Court, however, issued an order in April suspending all jury trials until towards the end of May.  Teleconferencing is now being used to handle hearings outside of courtrooms.  Door County District Attorney Colleen Nordin says that approach has worked well.  Though she says county courts will likely have to decide whether they're able to hold trials while also facing complications in seating juries once trials are permitted.



Once all health and safety questions are answered, Nordin expects the Door County Circuit Court workload to be heavy through the end of this year.

Increased awareness of motorcycles being stressed

With more motorcycles cruising on the roads in Wisconsin this spring, local law enforcement reminds drivers to be alert for the two-wheel vehicles, especially at intersections.  According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, over 550,000 residents in Wisconsin hold a motorcycle license or permit.  Door County Sheriff Deputy Pat McCarty says all drivers must be aware and share the road equally.



Wisconsin DOT reports that the motorcycling community is getting older, generally speaking. The average age of a motorcyclist involved in fatal crashes increased from 30 years old in 1992 to 45 in 2019. There were nearly 1800 motorcycle crashes last year in Wisconsin, resulting in 81 motorcycle-related deaths. May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month. You can find tips on motorcycle safety below.





(Courtesy of Door County Sheriff Department Facebook account) 



Kewaunee County issues "Moving Forward" plan with no restrictions

In response to the State Supreme Court ruling Wednesday, the Kewaunee County Administrator’s Office released a “Move Kewaunee County Forward” plan that is only making recommendations for the business community.  Kewaunee County Administrator Scott Feldt says, “We need to move forward with a new normal.  Our businesses from small and large need to be able to operate and earn revenue. We are encouraging everyone to continue practices that limit exposure of COVID-19, so Kewaunee County does not have to issue an order with restrictions.”  You can find the complete news release with this story below.



Kewaunee Moving Forward Guidelines



Door County issues new order until May 20

Door County Public Health issued an interim Health Order on Thursday afternoon for six days to bridge the gap between the end of the Safer at Home order and the opening of businesses. In the news release, Public Health Manager Sue Powers stated that Door County is adopting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Emergency Orders #28, #34, and #36 set forth with the Safer at Home order. The new orders are effective immediately and Powers will be developing long-term guidance, modeled after the Badger Bounce Back plan that will be issued by May 20.  You can find the complete news release with the links below. 


Safer at Home Order


Order 28


Order 34


Order 36





Six additional cases of COVID-19 in Door County; Kewaunee County confirms one more

The single biggest one-day increase yet of reported COVID-19 cases in Door County occurred Thursday morning.  Public Health Manager Susan Powers announced at the Door County Board of Supervisors special meeting that the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Door County increased by six, bringing the total number to 29.   Powers updated the numbers from what she called “the busiest week since the onset" of the COVID-19 health crisis to date.



Powers cited two restaurants, the eastside McDonald’s and Culvers in Sturgeon Bay, that had a small outbreak of the virus among employees that required the temporary closure of the businesses.  Powers says that Door County Medical Center has stepped up the capacity to test for COVID-19.  She adds that Door County will be working on developing community testing sites and increase sustainable capacity in the coming weeks.


Kewaunee County reported that they had one more confirmed case of COVID-19 on Thursday and are now at 30.  


4-H leaders look to alternatives for fair

While many fairs across the state are getting canceled due to concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, 4-H leaders in areas like Kewaunee County are looking for other options for their members. Green Lake County joined Sauk, Oneida, Dane, and Kewaunee Counties in canceling their annual fairs, which features exhibits done by 4-H members. The state 4-H office is currently discussing different options to still allow for kids to show their animals and other projects in a safe manner. Extension Kewaunee County 4-H Educator Jill Jorgensen says whether it is done completely virtually or not, there is an educational component of the fair experience that can be saved.

Jorgensen added there is no timeline for implementing an alternative plan. Leaders from the Door County Fair and Brown County Fair have offered Kewaunee County residents a chance to submit their exhibits to their events if they are still held.

Local legislators weigh in on Supreme Court decision

Local legislators are siding with their party’s leadership when it comes to Wednesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision. The court voted 4-3 to overturn Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home Order, ruling the administration overstepped its boundaries when it extended the restrictions to curtail the spread of the coronavirus to May 26th. A Sturgeon Bay Republican, Rep. Joel Kitchens was surprised the Supreme Court did not grant the requested stay so the legislature and the governor could discuss new plans for reopening the state. He says a lot could fall into the hands of local government leaders. 

Senator Andre Jacque believes now that the state Supreme Court agrees that the governor overstepped his authority, it is time to work together.

Senator Dave Hansen, a Democrat hailing from Green Bay, chastised the decision in a press release for potentially making people go back to work before they feel safe at the risk of losing their job. 


Before Wednesday’s decision, Wisconsin was one of nine states with a Safer at Home or a stricter order in place. You can read statements from other government officials below.


Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau)

“When we met with Governor Evers a week ago, we asked him to begin negotiating with us on a plan for reopening. He politely declined and said we should wait for the court decision. Now that the decision has been rendered, we are confident Wisconsin citizens are up to the task of fighting the virus as we enter a new phase.

“The recent Marquette Law School Poll found that 77 percent said they would be comfortable visiting a friend or family member’s home. This ruling allows people to once again gather with their loved ones or visit their places of worship without the fear of violating a state order.

“Republicans believe business owners can safely reopen using the guidelines provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. We urge our fellow small business owners to utilize the suggestions as a safe and effective way to open up our state.

“Wisconsin now joins multiple states that don't have extensive ‘stay at home orders’ but can continue to follow good practices of social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitizer usage and telecommuting. This order does not promote people to act in a way that they believe endangers their health.

“We would urge the Evers administration to work with us to begin promulgating rules that would provide clear guidance in case COVID-19 reoccurs in a more aggressive way."



Governor Tony Evers (D)

“Up until now, Wisconsin was in a pretty good place in our battle against COVID-19. We had reached almost all our gating criteria. We had opened up 14,000 small businesses across the state, putting 90,000 folks back to work, and that was because of the good work of Wisconsinites across our state who banded together, stayed home, and stayed safe," said Gov. Evers. "Despite that good work, Republican legislators have convinced 4 justices to throw our state into chaos.

“We cannot let today's ruling undo all the work we have done and all the sacrifices Wisconsinites have made over these past few months. We need everyone to continue doing their part to keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe by continuing to stay safer at home, practice social distancing, and limit travel, because folks, deadly viruses don't wait around for politicians and bureaucrats to settle their differences or promulgate rules. 


“This virus has killed more than 400 of our family members, friends, and neighbors and thousands more across our state are sick. I am disappointed in the decision today, but our top priority has been and will remain doing what we can and what we have to do to protect the health and safety of the people of our state. After months of unproductive posturing, I hope the folks in the Legislature are ready to do the same.”




Gibraltar employees returning Monday

Gibraltar School District plans to reopen the main building to essential employees on Monday. On Saturday, May 3rd, contact tracing revealed that a worker had been exposed to an individual that tested positive for COVID-19. The exposure did not happen on campus. As a cautionary measure, the building has been closed since and thoroughly cleaned. Superintendent Tina Van Meer says the district has to be safe because if an employee tests positive, that would be the end of the school lunch program.


Gibraltar wants to thank Sturgeon Bay for providing meals for the past two weeks. Van Meer says Sevastopol reached out as well, and she is grateful for the generous spirit shown by neighboring Door County school districts. 


Door County to make decision on extending emergency

Two Northern Door County communities have already extended their emergency declaration into the month of June with Door County looking to make a decision of its own this afternoon. Earlier this week, the Village of Sister Bay extended its emergency declaration through June 30th during a special board meeting. The Town of Liberty Grove has also extended its emergency declaration through June 17th. According to Emergency Management and Communications Director Dan Kane, Door County will make a decision on whether to extend its state of emergency Thursday afternoon. Shortly after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling ended the Safer at Home Order, Brown, Outagamie, Dane, and Milwaukee Counties all extended it until at least May 20th.


From Daniel Kane, Door County Emergency Management and Communications Director to members of the press

This email is meant to serve as a notice that Door County will be issuing a press release related to the changing COVID landscape and what the County plans to put in place. This release will be out this afternoon. I will pass along the release as soon as it is made available.



Local musicians affected greatly during pandemic

The restrictions put in place to curtail the coronavirus crisis have impacted musicians' way of life locally and around the globe.  Hans Christian, who owns Studio 330 in Sturgeon Bay, says he is hopeful to open his studios back up in June, but knows that a lot of musicians are hurting right now.



Christian released his 21st album earlier this year called “After the Fall”.  He adds that people can help out musicians by purchasing albums and songs from local artists right now.



Christian says musical artists have lost a lot of their income and consequently they don’t have money for recording projects.  Some venues and musicians have established GoFundMePages, but Christian says he has not resorted to that yet.  



(album cover photo courtesy of Studio 330)


Rep. Kitchens asks businesses to set common standard

During a Zoom meeting Tuesday afternoon Representative Joel Kitchens suggested that area business groups like Destination Door County should present a unified front regarding reopening protocols. Kitchens said there will be pressure from consumers to return to normal, and that friction puts stores in a bad spot.


Kitchens encourages businesses and elected officials to move past edicts and begin to provide reasoning for decisions that are being made. He says that people are more likely to follow guidelines that they believe have been well thought out rather than those imposed on them. 


The Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks Safer at Home Order extension

By a 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has blocked Governor Tony Evers' extension of the Safer at Home Order.  The highest court in Wisconsin ruled in favor of Republican lawmakers on Wednesday to curtail the power of the Evers administration to unilaterally act.  Gov. Evers, who issued the order in March, had already lifted some restrictions as the spread of the virus has slowed slightly in the state.  The Supreme Court decision will now mean Evers will have to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature to determine a response to the changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Bars, restaurants, and large venues will now be allowed to reopen with no COVID-19 policies active unless local municipalities impose restrictions.  Dave Lienau, Chair of the Door County Board of Supervisors, told that based on conversations he had with state legislators on Wednesday night, the supreme court did not stay their decision until May 20 as requested.  The "Safer at Home" order extension was ruled null and void immediately because it was unconstitutional.  Lienau adds that all 72 counties in the state will now have to come up with their own responses.  The Door County Board will address the issue at 10 am on Thursday morning during a special meeting that was already scheduled.   



Click here to read the Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision


No new cases of COVID-19 reported in area on Wednesday

Door and Kewaunee County reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon.  Door County performed 35 additional tests since Tuesday, reflecting a total of 647.  There have been 12 recoveries and three COVID-19-related deaths in Door County.  Kewaunee County remained at 29 positive cases of COVID-19 with nine more negative tests reported since Tuesday bringing the total to 364, according to the Kewaunee County website.  There are 79 tests still pending in Kewaunee County.  The one COVID-19-related death in Kewaunee County was one month ago.  No additional information about the cases is available due to privacy laws. 




Positive case closes McDonald's location

One of the two McDonald’s locations in Sturgeon Bay has temporarily closed due to a positive COVID-19 test.  Signs notifying customers of the closure at 1212 Egg Harbor Road were found Wednesday morning. In a statement from McDonald’s owner/operator Ryan Larson, he says they are working with the state and county department of health to remedy the issue.  Upon learning the news, the restaurant was closed for deep cleaning and employees in direct contact with the affected person will be tested and quarantined for 14 days.  McDonald’s has been doing daily wellness and temperature checks of their employees before each shift and provided them with gloves and masks. No timeline was given for the Egg Harbor Road location’s reopening, but its other Sturgeon Bay location off of Highway 42/57 will remain open.  



“Our highest priority is to protect the health and well-being of our people and community. We recently learned that one of our Sturgeon Bay restaurant employees has tested positive for the coronavirus.


As soon as we were notified of the confirmed case, we closed the restaurant to conduct a thorough deep-cleaning and sanitization procedure and notified local public health authorities. Additionally, we worked closely with the Door County Health Department to identify and reach out to any restaurant staff who had been in close contact with the employee who contracted the virus. These employees have been asked to be tested and self-quarantine at home for 14 days to ensure they remain healthy before returning to work. We have been in contact with the employees and are providing support during this time. Our people are the heart and soul of the McDonald’s family and we’re keeping all of our employees in our thoughts during this time.


We have been conducting wellness checks and temperature checks before each shift to ensure our employees are healthy and feeling their best. Additionally, we are providing gloves and masks to our employees and installed protective barriers, in addition to adhering to social distancing guidelines and enhanced hygiene procedures. We look forward to reopening when we can safely staff the restaurant again to serve our loyal customers.”

Resources available to stay informed about COVID-19

Door County is working to keep the public informed on important updates and guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 health crisis.  District 6 Supervisor Susan Kohout says she is being asked by many constituents how they can access current and helpful information on the COVID-19 pandemic.  She explains how the Door County website can be a useful tool for answering questions.



The page includes the most recent Door County Public Health COVID-19 Situation Update, as well as the most frequently asked questions about the coronavirus in Door County.

You can find all that information and more by clicking on the top banner on the Door County website that is next to the Emergency Alert icon or going to the link found below.



Door County Public Health Information on COVID-19


Balancing work with teaching

Parents across the peninsula have had to pull double duty over the last two months since schools have gone to remote learning options. A Gallup Poll last month showed parents are evenly split on whether the pandemic will have a negative impact on their child’s education. This is while many parents are toggling full-time jobs while navigating technology and terminology they may not be familiar with for their child’s studies. Karen Corekin-DeLaMer says even their 3K and 4K students have had some digital learning opportunities, but advises parents to make sure they do not let the pressure exceed the pleasure.

The unique situation for parents and students has caused school districts to change their grading policies for the end of the year.  Some districts will not change a letter grade earned through March as long as they complete their digital assignments while others are opting to go with a pass/no pass system.

Learning resiliency through perspective

Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski is gaining plenty of perspective this month during his most recent deployment with the Wisconsin National Guard. Based in Oshkosh for his duty, Joski has been crisscrossing the state to help communities set up sites for COVID-19 testing. Being away from home has been tough for Joski, but at the same time, he has seen business owners and people in other walks of life deal with their own personal struggles during the pandemic. He urges people to try to take an optimistic view and keep other people’s perspectives in mind when approaching a situation.

During his travels with the Wisconsin National Guard, Joski says he has learned that while we live in a diverse state, there is a commonality that ties everyone together. 



In this time of challenge, our ability to remain resilient can make the difference between success or failure and happiness versus distress. I was having a conversation with someone recently regarding fuel prices. This person noted that the cost per gallon of fuel had risen to $1.59 which to them was a source of frustration. I thought at the time how ironic this was, as just a few weeks ago we were all elated that the cost of fuel had gone down to $1.59 which gave us great comfort. Same price - different perspective.

        For most of us, we don’t realize or appreciate the importance of perspective, until we find ourselves on the giving end. Many times we resist the notion that anyone could possibly know more than we do. We tend to approach events in our lives engulfed in the emotion that we feel in the present tense. Too often this leads us to a fatalistic view of what we believe are the outcomes of a given situation. You can take a simple event like failing a test as a student. In your mind you play out the worst case scenario, believing that your shortcoming is just the first step in what may be your ultimate doom. This could apply to the loss of a job or the ending of a relationship, or in our current situation, the consequences of either the virus or our society’s response to the virus. In reality these are just events, although significant it is important to put this into perspective and remember that “This too shall pass”.

         As parents we know the frustration when we try to share our perspective with our children or anyone for that matter who is going through an event that we ourselves have already experienced. Even though none of us have ever experienced a worldwide pandemic, it does not mean that a healthy perspective isn’t relevant. What  it does mean is that we all need to be sensitive to the varying perspectives which exist based on the impact these events have on each individual personally.

        A valuable tool in getting through the many challenges we face, is to always put things in perspective. This is easier said than done I know. It requires us to step back from the event and apply some simple steps which will allow us to bring logic rather than emotion to our reactions. The first step is to allow ourselves to consider actual worst case scenarios, and then apply best possible outcomes (Even those that may seem unrealistic). The final step is to arrive at the most logical outcomes of the event and thus bring a more realistic perspective to the situation we are facing.

         When we look at the many resiliency skills, perspective is for most of us a skill that we need to apply on a daily basis. Our responses to the many events that unfold in our lives can be tempered in most cases by simply putting things in perspective. In order to do this however, we also need to establish what is most important in our lives. Without a firm grip on what really matters in life, it becomes very difficult to have a healthy perspective no matter what the situation. In contrast once we determine solid healthy values, perspective is a natural outcome.


DCEDC connecting businesses to local students

The uncertainty around the J-1 Student Visa Program has the Door County Economic Development Corporation being proactive to address a potential worker shortage. Data from the U.S. Department of State shows over 500 workers from about 30 countries worked in Door County last year. COVID-19 concerns will not only delay those students from coming to Door County until June 15th, but will likely trim the number of those coming in the first place. DCEDC Workforce Development Specialist Kelsey Fox says it started the initiative so employers can connect to high school students available to work.

The DCEDC currently has approximately 625 jobs listed on its website, a number that could grow as the economy slowly starts to open back up. Business owners can submit their information to the DCEDC, which will be then shared with local high schools as well as the Ahnapee Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program. 



Algoma Chamber cancels several summer events

The summer calendar looks sparser after Wednesday morning’s announcement of several canceled events by the Algoma Chamber of Commerce. In a press release, the organization said its Board of Directors has called off the Shanty Days celebration, one of the most significant events of the summer. Another seasonal staple, the garage sale traditionally held in mid-July, will not be happening this year. The Thursday night Concerts in the Park Series will see all planned dates canceled. The Chamber cited many factors in the decision, including public health concerns. Uncertainty is also a problem as vendor contracts for the events need to be finalized soon, and member businesses lack the ability to support the activities this year. 

Vendors and organizations that have already made registration fee payments will be refunded, or they can apply the fees to next year’s events. The full press release is below:




Algoma WI— May 13, 2020 — It is with great disappointment that the Algoma Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announces that some summer festivities will be canceled due to the uncertainties of COVID-19, as well as pending contractual obligations.


Therefore, the Algoma City Wide Garage Sale, the Thursday night Concerts in the Park Series and the Shanty Days Celebration will unfortunately not be held in 2020.


These difficult decisions came only after careful consideration between the Chamber Board and Event Committee members. Vendors having submitted registration fees will be contacted and offered the opportunity to apply it to 2021 events or be refunded.


We understand fully that this is a huge disappointment to our community, businesses, non-profits and residents that benefit from these events.  But in this time of uncertainty we must responsibly follow the guidelines that have been set forth of social distancing and limited attendance. In addition, these events are funded through generous sponsorships from our business community. Due to the economic impact many have felt, we did not feel it was appropriate to make funding requests at this time.


The Algoma Area Chamber of Commerce and Event Committee members are eagerly looking forward to seeing our community celebrate bigger and better in 2021.

City of Algoma duo teams up to save ducklings

A wild mother duck in Algoma has Public Works Director Matt Murphy and Police Officer Ron Seidl to thank for saving her six ducklings Tuesday morning.  Murphy says he received a call at about 9:30 am from Officer Seidl who was waved down by a witness that noticed the ducklings fall through a catch basin on Fourth Street near the Algoma Public Library.



Murphy adds that it is not unusual this time of year for young ducks to try crossing the streets after leaving their nests.  


(Photo courtesy of Algoma Police Department)




Strong joins Village of Egg Harbor

The Village of Egg Harbor announced Tuesday the hiring of Tom Strong as the new Deputy Clerk Administrator.  Strong was most recently the Operations Manager and Business Development Specialist for the Door County Economic Development Corporation.  Village Administrator Ryan Heise says Strong’s addition to the staff will help the village continue the momentum of smart growth in the community.



Strong lives in Egg Harbor with his wife Vicki and worked in software development for 24 years in the Milwaukee area before moving to Door County in 2016.  His first day on the job for the Village of Egg Harbor will be next Monday, May 18.   


Door County confirms one more COVID-19 case; Kewaunee County still at 29

Door County Public Health reported another case of the COVID-19 on Tuesday afternoon.  That brings the total to 23 positive cases in Door County with a total of 612 tests performed and three new recoveries to boost that number to 12.  There have been three COVID-19-related deaths in Door County with the last one reported on May 1.  Kewaunee County remained at 29 positive cases of COVID-19 with 355 negative tests.  There are 74 tests still pending, according to the Kewaunee County website.  Kewaunee County has one death that was reported on April 13.  No additional information about the cases is available due to privacy laws.   




All Fireworks celebrations are canceled for Door County

The skies over Door County communities will not light up with fireworks the weekend of the 4th of July.  In a joint press release, Baileys Harbor, Egg Harbor, Sturgeon Bay, Maplewood, and Gills Rock announced Tuesday that their respective 4th of July festivities have been canceled for this summer.  That includes the parades in Baileys Harbor and Egg Harbor and Freedom Fest which was scheduled on July 11 in Sister Bay.  The decision was made after careful consultation between each community, the municipal boards, business associations, emergency services, and the Door County Public Health Department.   The release went on to say “in a time of social distancing, we can’t responsibly encourage thousands of people to congregate in environments that are impossible to police and therefore are following the guidelines laid out for outdoor events by the WEDC.”  You can find the complete news release below.  




Door County 4th of July Events Canceled 


For Immediate Release 

May 12, 2020—It is with great disappointment that the communities of Door County have announced that 4th of July festivities have been canceled throughout the county, including fireworks celebrations in Baileys Harbor, Egg Harbor, Sturgeon Bay, Maplewood, and Gills Rock. This includes parades in Baileys Harbor and Egg Harbor and Freedom Fest on July 11 in Sister Bay. 

This decision comes only after careful consideration and consultation with all communities, municipal boards, business associations, stakeholders, emergency services, and the Door County Public Health Department. Ultimately, each community decided that concern for the health and safety of our visitors, residents, vendors, and our health care workers is more important than our desire to celebrate in mass gatherings. 

This was an incredibly difficult decision for our communities to reach. Celebrating our independence, our communities, and our neighbors is something we look forward to every year, and we know it’s something our visitors and businesses look forward to as well. But in a time of social distancing, we can’t responsibly encourage thousands of people to congregate in environments that are impossible to police and therefore are following the guidelines laid out for “outdoor events” by the WEDC. 

This in no way should lessen the meaning of the day, and we urge everyone to celebrate the spirit of our nation's heritage in a manner in which you feel comfortable. 

Public safety was, and will always be, the primary factor in this decision, but not the only one. We rely on donors to fund our 4th of July events and fireworks shows and it takes time to collect those funds, order supplies, and prepare for festivities. Given the present economic climate, we did not feel that it was appropriate to ask our businesses and residents to donate when most are experiencing extreme financial hardship. We also don’t feel it’s appropriate to ask our public works crews, firefighters, police officers, and first responders to put themselves at greater risk than necessary. 

Our communities will do everything we can to make these celebrations better than ever in 2021. 


Health officials embrace new normal

As the state slowly opens up its economy after almost two months of Safer at Home restrictions, Door County health officials expect signs of the COVID-19 pandemic will stick around for a while. During their weekly Facebook Live session, Door County Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Heise says terms like “contact tracing” and “social distancing” are now part of our everyday lexicon. Door County Public Health Manager Sue Powers says mitigation strategies like keeping six feet apart and wearing masks in public will be part of the norm. Both said the coronavirus impacts people in very different ways, which is why Powers recommends people mask up when possible.

Heise says Door County Medical Center may try to figure out how to get people a mask that may want it but do not know how to make one or where to get it.

Online job fair welcomes new reality

The Gibraltar DECA Club’s annual spring job fair had to go the way of many other events this year, but it is still offering valuable experience along the way. Close to thirty businesses and organizations were expected to participate in the in-person event on April 1st before school buildings across the state were forced to close due to COVID-19 concerns. The event is still taking place virtually, allowing businesses to connect with possible future employees before the important summer season kicks off. Gibraltar DECA Advisor Mary Witteborg says the experience will also allow students to interview virtually, which could be important to master in the future.

According to, 47 percent of the 506 companies surveyed use video interviewing to shorten the time to make a hire and 22 percent say they would utilize the technology to recruit candidates from other geographic regions.


Photo courtesy of Gibraltar Area Schools from last year's in-person job fair event.



DHS forces school districts to rethink graduation

High school principals like Sturgeon Bay’s Bob Nickel and Sevastopol’s Adam Baier needed some time to work through their disappointment after the Wisconsin Department of Health Services released new guidelines for hosting graduation ceremonies. In a joint press release Tuesday, the superintendents of Door County’s five districts announced it would rework its plans to follow the department’s guidance, asking them to cancel or postpone all in-person spring and summer graduations in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. In its place, the school districts agreed to honor the class of 2020 with some sort of virtual recognition as well as one of the recommended DHS models for the presentation of the diploma. That means no boat parade for Sturgeon Bay High School seniors, but Nickel says he still wants to help those students create some memories.

Sturgeon Bay and Sevastopol will host drive-up ceremonies on May 30th and 31st respectively to be shown on Facebook and aired on the radio stations of Southern Door had already planned on doing a virtual ceremony for one piece of its graduation celebration while no firm plans have been announced for Gibraltar or Washington Island. 


Read the release from the Door County superintendents by clicking this link

Small water rescue offers big lesson

The Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Department barely got their boat in the water before two people were able to get out of a tough spot near Fish Creek Beach. Just before 5 p.m. Monday a piece of a dock being installed by two men started to float away, causing one of them to go after it. The other man was forced to go out and grab him as he started to float away due to high winds. It eventually had a positive ending, but Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Chief Andy Bertges says it could have gone the other way quickly.

Members of the United States Coast Guard, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Door County Sheriff’s Department, Door County Emergency Services and Gibraltar Police Department also responded to the incident. 

Impact of Safer at Home on the disabled—Series Part 1

People of all abilities are coping with the current health crisis in different ways.  Door County Children Services Manager Beth Chisholm works in the area of children's long-term support waiver and the birth-to-three program.  She says some families that are participating in the county programs are doing quite well during the Safer At Home Order.



Chisholm adds that some participants are at a disadvantage right now because of more isolation and less time with their caregivers.



Chisholm notes that the increased demands on caregivers make it challenging for the clients to keep up with their development. This is a first in a series on the impact of COVID-19 crisis measures on the elderly and disabled.   


COVID-19 causes a "perfect storm" with mental health

Psychologist Dr. Dennis White in Sturgeon Bay says the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on the mental health of people throughout the area and beyond.  Dr. White cites Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge from San Diego State University on how mental health took a backseat to physical health when the coronavirus crisis escalated in March.  He shares some startling statistics.



The vast majority of the 2020 participants, 70 percent, met the criteria for moderate to severe mental illness compared to 22 percent in 2018. 






Door County up to 22 COVID-19 cases; Kewaunee remains at 29

Door County Public Health updated numbers Monday to show one additional case of the COVID-19.  That brings the total to 22 positive cases in Door County with 574 tests performed and nine recoveries.  There have been three COVID-19-related deaths in Door County with the last one reported on May 1.  Kewaunee County remained at 29 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon with 341 negative tests.  There are 68 tests still pending, according to the Kewaunee County website.  Kewaunee County has one coronavirus-related death which was one month ago.  No additional information about the cases is available due to privacy laws. 




Washington Island plays waiting game

Like other communities in Door County, Washington Island residents are waiting for what happens next. As of Monday morning, Washington Island has had no cases of COVID-19 but it has certainly felt its effects. The Washington Island Ferry cut down its service to four roundtrips daily shortly after the Safer at Home Order was announced and some of the tourism-based businesses in the town have held off on opening. The Town of Washington Board discussed last week ways to keep people safe at its high profile attractions like the Red Barn, the Jacobsen Museum, and the Death’s Door BBQ Competition. Town chairperson Richard Tobey says it is waiting for guidance from the state and county before decisions are made.

Tobey thanks the town’s residents and its prospective visitors for taking the Safer at Home Order seriously in the best interest of everyone’s health.

Exhibitors still putting in the work

Fair officials and exhibitors alike are encouraging others to continue to work on their projects despite a sense of the unknown. County fairs taking place in early July like Sauk and Kewaunee have canceled their events while Fond du Lac is putting together plans to make some kind of exhibition go on. Officials from the Door County Fair and Brown County Fair said earlier this month they are still planning to host their events while keeping an eye on where the state is within the Badger Bounce Back Plan. The plan offers guidance on when large social gatherings can take place. With school out and summer coming up, Door County Fair President Tom Ash says now is the perfect time to get extra work with your projects.

Royal Raider 4-H member Marie Prodell says there are plenty of shows coming up for her and her Hereford cattle to prepare for both in-person and virtually. She says there is a lot you can learn about your animals no matter what happens.

The Wisconsin State Fair announced last week that its event slated for August 6th-16th is still on for now, but its board will monitor the state’s place in the Badger Bounce Back Plan before making a final decision.

Retail stores can offer limited in-person shopping

Governor Tony Evers announced Monday that standalone or strip-mall based retail stores can now allow in-person shopping for up to five customers while maintaining social distancing.  Emergency Order #36 goes in effect immediately and also allows drive-in theaters to operate with some restrictions.  According to the news release, Gov. Evers’ new order is another disciplined turn of the dial to enable Wisconsin business owners to open safely.  All businesses must continue to follow all safety precautions and guidelines set out in the Safer at Home order.  You can find the new Emergency Order and press release below.  




Gov. Evers Announces Another Turn of the Dial for Wisconsin Businesses

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced another turn of the dial on Safer at Home to add even more opportunities for Wisconsin businesses to get back to work in a safe and responsible way.

Emergency Order #36, signed today by Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, allows all standalone or strip-mall based retail stores to offer in-person shopping for up to five customers at a time while maintaining required social distancing practices. Additionally, the Emergency Order signed today allows drive-in theaters to operate with some restrictions. All businesses must continue to follow all safety precautions and guidelines as outlined in the Safer at Home order

"In addition to added flexibilities and steps we have already taken for businesses, this is another disciplined turn of the dial that will allow Wisconsin's business owners to safely get back to work and Wisconsin consumers to support their favorite local spots," said Gov. Evers. "Both customers and workers need to be confident in their safety, so we need everyone to be diligent in following best safety practices so we can continue to move our state forward while keeping our neighbors, families, and communities safe and healthy." 

Today’s order builds upon the Safer at Home order and the last turn of the dial through Emergency Order #34, which together allowed golf courses to operate, aesthetic and optional lawn and construction services provided by a single employee, curbside pick-up for public libraries, and every business to provide deliveries, mailings, and curbside pick-up and drop-off services.

Emergency Order #36 is available here and goes into effect immediately. If you have questions regarding Emergency Order #36, please review the frequently asked questions document available here

In addition to the requirements outlined above, all essential and nonessential businesses must review and consider the Wisconsin Department of Economic Development guidelines on safe business practices, available here.




Emergency Order 36 








Culver's to give back during temporary closure

You will not be able to get fresh frozen custard for a few days, but you can still help Culver’s of Sturgeon Bay give back to the community. Culver’s owner Austin Hildebrand announced over the weekend that the Sturgeon Bay restaurant will be closed for cleaning after one of its team members tested positive for COVID-19. It is currently working with the state and county health departments to determine when they can reopen after the restaurant gets cleaned multiple times. Hildebrand says even though they are closed for now, Culver’s is still planning on giving back to the community.

Hildebrand hopes Culver’s will be open within a week. To participate in Culver’s Drive Out Hunger campaign, you can drop food items at the restaurant between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.

AP Testing offers new challenges for remote learning

With college credit on the line, high school students across the peninsula are preparing for Advanced Placements tests unlike anything they have ever seen before. With students remote learning around the world registered to take a test in one of the dozens of different subject areas, the AP exams will take place at home on their devices instead of pencil and paper. The test will be at specific times for a shorter period, though students will be able to use their books and notes. The material on the exam will only be what was covered through mid-March, which is when the COVID-19 pandemic led to schools shutting their buildings down for the remainder of the year. Luxemburg-Casco School District Superintendent Glenn Schlender says he is confident his AP teachers have been able to prepare their students for the unique circumstances.

Despite the drastic changes to its testing, the College Board assured parents and students on its website that the vast majority of institutions will still accept the test results to earn course credits. AP Testing lasts until May 22nd.

Kewaunee flooding issues partially solved

The heavy rains earlier this month gave the City of Kewaunee its first chance to observe the effectiveness of flood mitigation strategies implemented this winter. Mayor Jason Jelinek says it was a partial success with the parking lot near the marina seeing water recede within days rather than lasting for the duration of the summer.


Nearby parks are underwater with no quick solution in sight. Jelinek says the flooding is the result of many factors. In addition to rainfall in the area, a surge from easterly winds and precipitation in other parts of the Great Lakes system that contribute to a rise in overall water levels also play a role.


County COVID-19 cases see uptick

Both Door and Kewaunee Counties saw the number of cases of COVID-19 grow over the weekend. Kewaunee County saw one additional case pop up since Saturday according to its website, giving them 29 positive tests. Just under 80 tests are still pending while 315 people have received negative test results. Door County saw their positive caseload grow by two since Friday, jumping up to 21 according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website. Neither county saw additional deaths as a result of COVID-19 with Door County staying at three and Kewaunee County at one. No additional information about the cases is available due to privacy laws.

State parks have new hours of operation

The four state parks in Door County are subject to a new schedule. They are closed on Wednesdays during the public health emergency to allow park staff to complete tasks without having to worry about exposure to COVID-19. The rest of the week sees the parks opening at six AM with closure at 7 PM, earlier than normal. Supervisor Erin Brown-Stender says that last weekend was a success and, even with the great weather, the capacity limit imposed at Whitefish Dunes was not reached.


Whitefish Dunes is the only Door County state park to have an attendance ceiling. Brown-Stender says that as the summer approaches and people begin to spend more time at the park, it could become an issue.


Home prices rising during pandemic

During the Great Recession, housing prices took it on the chin, but real estate is performing much better early in the COVID-19 crisis. The Wall Street Journal reports that home prices are rising. Even though purchases fell by close to 10 percent in March compared to the same month last year, home listings contracted even faster. Realtor Ame Grail says the Sturgeon Bay market is tighter than the rest of the country.


Also helping support prices are historically low-interest rates. That is driving refinancing activity as well as new purchases for eligible buyers.


Crossroads begins 4-year restoration plan

With people enjoying the trails of Crossroads at Big Creek in unprecedented numbers, the preserve is starting a major restoration effort. This year’s theme is habitats, and Director Coggin Heeringa says much of the work will focus on providing visitors with as natural an environment as possible.


The effort to fight invasives and restore natural plants is one Heeringa knows well. She gave a lecture on that topic to the Door County Master Gardeners earlier this year.


Door County YMCA going ahead with day camp

There will still be day camp this summer provided by the Door County YMCA. Executive Director Tom Beerntsen says that many parents have come to rely on camp as a form of child care while they work during the area’s busy season. This year there will be less focus on experiences since it is challenging to transport kids via bus while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Beerntsen says that because schools were closed in March except for virtual learning, academics will be stressed more.


Early bird registration goes until May 15th. Camp happens at the Barker Childcare Center and the Lansing Center depending on age.


Wisconsin DMV reverses course on driver's test

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin DMV has moved as many of its services online as possible. A backlog has formed in two specific areas: the ability to renew expired licenses and allowing new drivers to complete their road tests. Starting Monday, 16-year-olds can obtain a license without taking their driver’s test if their parents' consent. That does not mean that the 16-year-old in the oncoming vehicle has a license through the honor system. All other requirements must still be met. Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson says that has proven sufficient in other states.


The backlog of teenagers waiting on their license has surged to over 10,000. The driver’s test will return when the public health emergency is lifted.


Door County prepares plans for safe reopening

There's no firm date on when Door County will reopen for businesses and tourists.  County leaders, however, are getting plans in place to protect the health of workers and visitors when "Safer at Home" rules are eased.  The county discussed guidelines for safe health practices from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.  Door County Administrator Ken Pabich says such a reopening plan is being designed to reduce the risks of a reoccurrence of another COVID-19 outbreak and to help businesses and tourists alike know what they can do to avoid that.



Pabich says county officials also met with business owners this week to discuss the WEDC health guidelines and how to put them into practice.


(Photo courtesy of Sturgeon Bay Parks Dept.) 

Kewaunee County commuting to Brown County brings concern 

Brown County's COVID-19 outbreak could pose challenges to neighboring Kewaunee County due to their connected economies. Department of Workforce Development regional economist Ryan Long shares that 974 residents of Kewaunee County commute to Brown County to work in goods-producing industries. That data comes from the US Census Bureau for the year 2017, the most recent available. The Green Bay outbreak began in meatpacking plants and other factories making those commuters a potential seed for local infections. Health Director Cindy Kinnard says contact tracing takes six to nine hours per positive COVID-19 case. If Kewaunee County’s total rises too quickly it may have to shift mitigation strategies.


Kewaunee County's COVID-19 count climbs

Two additional cases of COVID-19 were reported in Kewaunee County on Saturday, raising its total to 28.


Since Thursday, 35 additional tests have come back negative, raising that total to 309. The county has also seen the number of pending tests increase to 80. Kewaunee County still has reported only one death due to COVID-19. Public health officials are asking people to follow the Safer at Home Order and practice social distancing.  No names or other information can be given due to privacy laws.

Wildfire risks high for weekend

Door and Kewaunee counties are at high risk of wildfires due to dry conditions and high winds forecast for the weekend.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resouces says the entire state is now considered to be at high or very high risk of wildfires.  The DNR has already suspended burning permits and is also urging people not to make camp or cooking fires outdoors.  Wildfire Specialist Catherine Coele farmers are urged to be cautious since Northeast Wisconsin, which includes Door and Kewaunee counties, is at higher risk of wildfires from fallen trees and limbs caused by windstorms last summer.



Coele says other wildfire risks remain from power lines downed by high winds.  The DNR says it has people and equipment in place to respond to fires as needed.  Fire crews will also have their own version of social distancing in place to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Algoma taking bids for old docks

Anyone looking for a dock along their waterfront property can find a large selection at the Algoma Street Department.  The City of Algoma is offering a sale of surplus docks after newly installed docks were just completed this week at the Algoma Marina.  Interested parties can submit bids that must include the price per dock and the number of docks wanted.  All sealed bids must be received at Algoma City Hall by Matt Murphy, the Public Works Director by 1:00 pm next Friday, May 15.  Murphy says the docks are being sold as-is and are only about 25 years old.



Docks can be seen at the Algoma Street Department by calling for an appointment.  The highest bidder will get the first pick of dock selection and all buyers must pick up the docks by May 22 after full payment is made.   


Differences between a will and an estate plan

People planning for succession in business or the distribution of family assets need written documents reflecting their wishes and decisions.  Attorney Bob Ross of Ross Estate Planning in Sturgeon Bay explains the significant differences between a simple will and an estate plan.



Ross adds that an estate plan requires conversations with family members and even your doctor. He says when end-of-life decisions are made in advance, your wealth and values can be passed on to your family members according to your wishes.


Sturgeon Bay teachers on parade

It was not the way fourth-grade teacher Kayleen Smeaton thought she’d be greeting her students on a Friday afternoon in May, but anything was better than nothing. Teachers at Sturgeon Bay School District organized several different parade routes so teachers and students could see each other again after weeks of remote learning. Smeaton saw other small community school districts do it, so she help rally teachers together to put the event together. She says it was great seeing students and parents lining the streets to see them.


Like all school districts, Sturgeon Bay teachers will be conducting their classes remotely through the end of the scheduled school year in June.


Senator hopes country turns COVID corner

Letting doctors be doctors is a goal U.S. Senator Ron Johnson would like to see accomplished while the federal government looks to the next steps for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to people taking social distancing and personal hygiene seriously, Senator Johnson says Wisconsin has been able to flatten the curve to a point that hospitals are looking to attract patients to take care of other health concerns. Speaking to last week, he hopes doctors will be able to try different strategies to control the virus in the future.

Senator Johnson does not believe there will be a silver bullet when it comes to curing people of COVID-19, but he says the impact of drugs like remdesvir and hydroxychloroquine need to be explored further.

Funds needed to make Algoma pier safe

The City of Algoma continues to seek federal funding to prevent further dangerous erosion at the South Pier. High water levels on Lake Michigan have resulted in erosion damage that made the pier unsafe for public use.  Algoma Mayor Wayne Schmidt says the city has been working with Wisconsin's Congressional delegation to help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the pier, get funding for emergency repairs before the pier deteriorates further.



8th District Representative Mike Gallagher has been in contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Detroit District about the need for repairs to the Algoma pier.  In a letter dated October 21, 2019,  Representative Gallagher requested the Corps make emergency funds available for repairs.  Mayor Schmidt says that the request is still pending. 

Churches hope to come out of pandemic stronger

St. Francis and St. Mary’s Catholic Church Pastor Edward Looney believes more people will come to church after the Safer at Home Order expires and sanctuaries can reopen to its members. It has been since March that Looney has been able to hold masses in Brussels, Lincoln, and Rosiere. Like many other churches, the parishes have been able to connect with its members in a variety of ways including live streaming its masses on Facebook and playing services on the radio. While it is not the same as drawing a few hundred parishioners to the physical structures themselves, he has noticed that people are paying attention.

Eucharistic processions hosted by Looney the last two weekends showed the excitement of people getting back to church. The radio stations of will continue to have church services on-air and online beginning at 8 a.m Sunday. 




8 a.m. St. Joseph's Catholic Parish, Sturgeon Bay

9 a.m. St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Algoma

10 a.m. Friends Community Church, Sturgeon Bay



8 a.m. St Francis & St Mary Catholic Church, Brussels

Door County COVID-19 cases increase by one to 19; Kewaunee County remains at 26

Door County Public Health updated numbers Friday to show one additional case of the COVID-19.  That brings the total to 19 positive cases in Door County with 524 tests performed and nine recoveries.  There have been three COVID-19-related deaths in Door County.  Public health officials announced over a week ago that it has been determined that community spread of the disease is now present.  That means the spread of an illness for which the source of infection is not known.  Kewaunee County remained at 26 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon, according to the Kewaunee County website.  The Guidance for Businesses-WEDC has compiled a series of industry-specific documents to help get businesses back to work while taking the necessary safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  You can find the link below.


Tourism week shows industry's importance to Door County

Even as travel to the area is discouraged right now, Jon Jarosh from Destination Door County is still wishing people Happy National Travel and Tourism Week. In 2019, Door County saw approximately two percent growth from 2018 in key areas like direct visitor spending and total businesses sales. Only seven counties saw more direct visitor spending in 2019 than the $374.4 million Door County generated. Jarosh admits the tourism outlook for 2020 does not look as bright, but there is still plenty of room for optimism.

Tourism also played a major role in the job market in Door County, creating 3,255 positions and generating more than $85 million in labor income. You can see more about the power of tourism in Door County online with this story.

Showing support for the frontlines

Thank you cards, snacks, and gift cards are just some of the ways you can help show your love for those working on the frontlines of Door County Medical Center. The Help our Heroes program is designed to keep the morale of staff, nurses, and physicians up while they work hard to keep people safe and healthy. Residents and staff at the Pete and Jelaine Horton Skilled Nursing Facility have been treated to dog parades while Adam Peronto from Door County Medical Center says he has been working with elementary school students to get close to 650 thank you cards made.

Peronto says interested people should contact the hospital first before dropping off tokens of appreciation in order to keep the staff, patients, and community safe.


Photo submitted by Adam Peronto. Other cards can be mailed to Door County Medical Center, 1300 Egg Harbor Road, Suite 152, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235



Getting through a crisis together

Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski commends the courage residents have shown since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Kewaunee County has shown in his eyes the sense of reason and care residents have had another. While some local businesses have struggled with their doors closed to customers, there will soon be a time though when churches will be able to welcome people back to their sanctuaries and restaurants to their diner counters. Joski says there are plenty of things to be optimistic about, but courage will still be needed.

The Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department did have to send out a warning to bar owners earlier this week on Facebook about opening their establishments before the Safer at Home order officially expires. Responding to reports of a letter generated by the Kewaunee County Tavern League to resume business, the post reminds business owners that the restrictions are based in statutory law and cannot be ignored. League president Judy Vandenhouten could not be reached for comment by news staff. You can read the post and more of Joski’s thoughts on courage below.



I want to thank everyone who provided so many great comments and the positive feedback regarding last week’s article on the important role that accountability plays in our preservation of freedom. As we continue to march through this challenge before us, and I continue to have contacts with people of all ages in my capacity as Sheriff, something really struck me and that is the real sense of fear and anxiety that is hanging over our community as we struggle to find balance between caution and re-engaging as family, friends, businesses, and places of worship.

       As I stated last week, we must base our decisions and actions on the best information and data we can find. We all have an obligation to each other, and I think the fact that our numbers of active cases here in Kewaunee County have remained so low, is a true testament to our sense of reason and  care for one another. Having said that, we will be finding ourselves at a time when we do in fact have to move forward.  This will require careful planning, thoughtful considerations and most of all Courage. This word Courage is usually applied to acts of heroism relating to our military or emergency services, but I would submit that it also applies to this challenge and the transition we must all embark upon. The definition of Courage is “Strength in the face of pain or grief” as well as “The ability to do something that frightens oneself”. I can’t think of a better time to summon the strength of Courage than now. Courage does not mean that you disregard prudence, or place yourself or others in jeopardy through reckless action; rather it means you move forward past the fear knowing both the risks and the benefits of your actions.

       There are countless examples of such courage in our nation’s history. I think of the patriots who had to fight fear each and every day as they made the decision to start a new country against a global super power. I think of General Eisnehower who had to make that fateful call to send troops across the channel knowing the odds were against them. Even in our own communities we have those who exhibit great courage each and every day. The Farmer who has the courage to plant in the spring even though the potential for crop failure is ever present. The Teacher, who stands before a new room of students, hoping they can make a difference in the young lives seated before them. The Entrepreneurs who roll the dice to start a business, hoping that their passion can bring goods or services to those who need them, knowing each and every customer is the key to their survival. It is this type of courage we must employ to get back to what we were meant to do: live fulfilling lives. We must again walk out into the world each and every day with a smile on our face knowing the risks, but conquering our fears.  

         It is fitting that we as Wisconsinites embrace the philosophy of moving forward from this challenge with courage and intrepidness; after all it is our state motto “Forward!” If you get the time to look it up, the meaning of this motto reflects the optimistic character and beliefs of the citizens of the state and their hopes for the future. We have an opportunity to be an example to other states and live the ultimate example of leadership which is to “Lead from the Front”

    We have a great deal to be optimistic about, but we must first conquer our fear and embrace the next chapter of this challenge. It will be through Courage fueled by Optimism that we will once again shake hands with our neighbors, worship with our congregations and most importantly be an example to our children of what overcoming a challenge looks like.



Donor picks up weekend meals tab

An anonymous donor to the Boys and Girls Club of Door County is making sure needy families in the community have a meal or two covered for the weekend. The organization is partnering with the Door County Meals Cooperative for at least the next two weeks to provide weekend packs of food for families by request. The packs of food will be able to feed families of four. Chelsea Dahms from the Boys and Girls Club of Door County says the donor was inspired by the work done by the cooperative over the last several weeks.

Dahms says the Door County Meals Cooperative is coordinating with the local school districts and food pantries to determine what its role in the community will be after the Safer at Home Order ends. You can find more information about the weekend meal program and where Door County Meals Cooperative pick-up sites are located below.



Southern Door "Badgers" benefiting from Ag scholarships

An agricultural fraternity at U.W. -Madison continues a pipeline of members from Southern Door High School.  Alpha Gamma Roh Educational Foundation awarded scholarships to 29 students, including Zach Olson, a senior at Southern Door, and U.W senior Nathan Coulthurst, and junior Jared Baudhuin.  Zach’s cousin Matt Olson, a 2012 graduate of Southern Door, shares the common thread found between the over 20 alumni that have benefited from the school and fraternity.



Matt Olson is the executive secretary with the Alpha Gamma Roh Corporation Board and Education Foundation.  He currently works for a public relations firm in Hartland.  The Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity members received $45,000 in scholarships this spring.   





News Release:


UW-Madison AGR Educational Foundation Distributes $45,000 In Spring Scholarships

MADISON, Wis. (May 6, 2020)—The Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) Educational Foundation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently presented $45,000 of scholarships to 29 students. Of this, $17,000 was awarded through the University of Wisconsin Foundation and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences from endowments funded by AGR alumni.
“The Foundation thanks its many generous donors,” says Rick Daluge, secretary-treasurer of the AGR Educational Foundation at UW-Madison. “Each year, we help these students afford the world-class education that UW-Madison offers. We can’t do it without our donors.”
Since July 1, 2019, there have been more than 100 donors that have provided financial support on behalf of the AGR Educational Foundation at UW-Madison.
Recipients of the scholarships meet criteria set by the donors and the Foundation. All students are members of the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. This year’s scholarship recipients include:
Marcus Schroepfer of Birnamwood, Wis., is the recipient of the Dale Bruhn AGR House Management Award. Schroepfer will be a sophomore majoring in dairy science.
Thomas Sargent of Cudahy, Wis., is the recipient of the Karl and Ruth Drye Scholarship. Sargent will be a junior studying biochemistry.
Gaelan Combs of Verona, Wis., received the Rick and Peggy Daluge Scholarship. Combs will be a junior majoring in dairy science.
Mitchell Schroepfer of Birnamwood, Wis., is a recipient of the Russ and Carol Schuler Scholarship. Schroepfer will be a junior major in biological systems engineering.
Brandon Biese of Chilton, Wis., is another recipient of the Russ and Carol Schuler Scholarship. Biese will be a senior majoring in dairy science.
Tanner Oyen of Lancaster, Wis., is a recipient of the Chamberlin Rock Scholarship funded by John and Wendy Damm. Oyen will be a sophomore majoring in agronomy.
Travis Bugiel of Mukwonago, Wis., is another recipient of the Chamberlin Rock Scholarship funded by John and Wendy Damm. Bugiel will be a junior studying genetics.
Zach Olson of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., will be a freshman majoring in dairy science at UW-Madison. He is the recipient of the Chamberlin Rock Scholarship funded by John and Wendy Damm.
Dawson Nickels of Watertown, Wis., will be a senior majoring in dairy science with an agricultural business emphasis. He is a recipient of the Chamberlin Rock scholarship funded by John and Wendy Damm. Nickels is also the recipient of the Thomas and Gail Schomisch Scholarship. The late Tom Schomisch was chair of the Life Sciences Communication department at UW-Madison.
Jared Baudhuin of Brussels, Wis., will be a junior majoring in dairy science. He is a recipient of the Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni Scholarship which is funded by many alumni of the fraternity.
Samuel Moran of Green Bay, Wis., is also a recipient of the Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni Scholarship. Moran will be a sophomore majoring in biology.
Colin Uecker of Watertown, Wis., will be a junior majoring in dairy science. He is a recipient of the Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni Scholarship.
Grant Vosters of Freedom, Wis., will be a sophomore majoring in dairy science. Vosters is a recipient of the Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni Scholarship.
Additional scholarships were awarded to Charles Jaskolski of Greendale, Wis., Jack Henderson of East Troy, Wis., Brandon Strupp of Hartford, Wis., Ryan Gehin of Baraboo, Wis., Caleb Novak of Browntown, Wis., Thomas Kolman of Columbus, Wis., Colton Klecker of Jefferson, Wis., Nathan Daniels of Cobb, Wis., Trent Thiel of Wrightstown, Wis., Nathan Coulthurst of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Mitchell Glodowski of Stevens Point, Wis., Zach Servais of Stoddard, Wis., Braden Bohman of Marshfield, Wis., and Evan Robran of East Troy, Wis.
Many generous sponsors provided funds to support these additional scholarships given on behalf of the AGR Educational Foundation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Each spring, the AGR Educational Foundation at UW-Madison hosts its spring scholarship banquet to recognize both recipients and sponsors. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scholarship banquet has been postponed.
About Alpha Gamma Rho at UW-Madison
Established at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1916, Alpha Gamma Rho is the fraternity sharing a common bond within a dynamic, global agriculture committed to fostering the highest values and providing each and every brother with superior lifelong personal development and professional success. Alpha Gamma Rho is committed to “Making Better Men.” For more information, visit
About The Educational Foundation of Alpha Gamma Rho at UW-Madison
The Educational Foundation of Alpha Gamma Rho at UW-Madison was established in 1968. Guided by the principle of giving, the Foundation provides scholarship and financial support to the collegiate membership of AGR at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Annually, the Foundation coordinates more than $40,000 in academic scholarships and leadership development training and opportunities. The Foundation is directed by nine alumni who strive to make college more affordable.

Algoma bridge reopens

The final touch-ups around the Algoma Second Street Bridge are now completed, and traffic will be opened up again on Friday.  The construction work started on April 27th and finished up earlier than expected.  City of Algoma Public Works Director Matt Murphy confirmed to that the bridge was opening on Friday.  Kewaunee County Highway Commissioner Todd Every shares the work that was completed in less than two weeks.



The initial project that constructed the span over the Ahnapee River started in July of 2019 and took five months to complete.    

Kewaunee County up to 26 COVID-19 cases

Kewaunee County Public Health announced Thursday afternoon that another person tested positive for the coronavirus making the total 26.  As of 2 pm Thursday, 366 people have been tested in Kewaunee County with 274 negative, which is12 more than Wednesday’s number.  Pending cases are at 65.  Kewaunee County has one COVID-19-related death.  Door County still reports 18 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon. Public health officials are asking people to follow the Safer at Home Order and practice social distancing.  No names or other information can be given due to privacy laws. 




   Wisconsin Department of Health Services statistics:



Health officials advise businesses on reopening

Wednesday afternoon, prominent Door County health officials, including Dr. Jim Heise, Brian Stephens, and Sue Powers, held a Zoom meeting for local businesses to ask questions regarding the eventual reopening of the area’s economy. Many queries were industry-specific, but some themes were evident. Stephens and Heise said that hand washing is more effective at mitigating disease spread than gloves outside of a narrow range of occupations. Masks are recommended for workers and customers, but officials fell short of suggesting that businesses mandate masks before accepting patrons. Another theme was encouraging companies to innovate to ensure the best possible result.


Utilizing sidewalks and parking lots can apply to retail in addition to restaurants like the example above.


Brey Family beefs up its operation

The first steaks being offered by Brey Family Beef in Sturgeon Bay this weekend were three years in the making. That is when the owners of Brey Cycle Farm, a century-plus old dairy operation began cross-breeding its lower-producing Holstein cows with Angus beef cattle. The trend has picked up in the dairy community as a way to make up for some of the difference in commodity pricing for its milk. Tony Brey, who owns the operation with his brother Jacob and their wives Moriah and Lauren, says they have been happy with the results so far.

Brey says the response has been equally great for their product, which will be available on Fridays and Saturdays at their over 600 animal operation.  


Picture courtesy of Brey Family Beef

Nordin to run again for District Attorney

Helping grow its treatment court and diversion programs is part of the reason why Door County District Attorney Colleen Nordin is running again for a second term. Nordin was the managing partner of M.C. Law Group before winning the Republican primary and general election in 2016. She credits being able to collaborate with local partners like the Door County Sheriff’s Department and social service agencies for being able to be successful in her job. Nordin hopes to roll out the treatment court this summer and establish a diversion program for juveniles.

She is also happy for the success her department has had prosecuting some of the more sensitive cases and getting justice for the victims. Potential candidates have until June 1st to file their nomination papers ahead of the partisan primary on August 11th and the general election on November 3rd.


Picture courtesy of Colleen Nordin

Early childhood teachers adjust to remote learning

Like all teachers, early childhood educators like those at Northern Door Children’s Center in Sister Bay are finding ways to connect with their students. The 2019 Report on Child Care in State Economics from the Committee for Economic Development shows over 58 percent of the nation’s children under the age of five go to childcare with non-parental providers. The teachers at Northern Door Children’s Center must have or are working towards a four-year degree in early childhood education. Northern Door Children’s Center’s Karen Corekin-DeLaMer says this has been especially important as their 3K and 4K teachers have been away from their kids during the Safer at Home Order.

Northern Door Children’s Center has remained open during the order to provide services for essential workers and their younger kids. Early childhood teachers across the country are being honored on Friday for its annual celebration of Childcare Providers Appreciation Day.

Do it yourself or let somebody else?

Hardware store businesses have been able to keep busy across the country, but a Green Bay-area home improvement company says some jobs are better left to the professionals. Stores selling some of those home improvement essentials have been able to stay open during Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home Order. As a result, building material and gardening dealers saw their sales increase just over one percent nationally during the month of March while retail overall dropped almost nine percent. While it may be on the honey-do list, Bella Friday from Tundraland Home Improvement says there are some projects that may be too hard to tackle.

Friday recommends to first do tasks that are easier to accomplish and something you love to do. Safety, time commitment, future plans, and costs are all things to consider before tackling a home improvement project.

Blood drive hosted by Algoma Youth Club

The Algoma Youth Club is helping with the critical need for blood donations during the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the public's involvement in the past two months.  The American Red Cross will be in Algoma next Wednesday from 1:15 until 6 pm as the Youth Club will host the event.  Youth Club and Parks Director Sara Robertson says the Red Cross is putting special procedures in place to ensure the safety of donors, volunteers, and staff.



Robertson notes that appointments are preferred and can be done so online at and searching for the blood drive by zip code.  All blood types are critically needed at this time.  

Pantries facing restrictions find supply alternatives

The COVID19 pandemic is reducing some food donations to pantries in Kewaunee and Door counties, though they are finding no shortage of alternative sources and community support.  The Kewaunee County Food Pantry in Algoma has long bought food items at reduced costs through some suppliers.  Pantry President Ken Marquardt says they're now being limited on how much can be purchased at one time because of increased demand.  He says, however, they've been able to keep up with local demand with help from government programs.




Feed and Clothe My People of Door County in Sturgeon Bay is also keeping up with demand.   Director of Operations Estella Huff says that's due to great community support.



Feed and Clothe My People of Door County and the Kewaunee County Food Pantry say despite the pantry buildings being closed due to the pandemic, they're continuing to provide food to those in need. The hours of operation and other information are available with this story on our web page.


Feed and Clothe My People of Door County is located on 14th Avenue in Sturgeon Bay.
It's open 12:00 PM-4:00 PM Monday & Thursday
10:00 AM-2:00 PM Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday.
Those in need of food are advised to call the shelter ahead of time.

Kewaunee County Food Pantry on Sunset Avenue in Algoma is open for pick-up Monday and Wednesday 11:00 AM-1:00 PM.

COVID-19 Update:  Door and Kewaunee Counties positive case numbers unchanged

Testing increased in the area, but public health officials reported no new cases of COVID-19 in Door and Kewaunee Counties on Wednesday.  According to a Door County Public Health Department news release, Door County is still at 18 confirmed positive cases.  Kewaunee County's website states that they remain at 25 cases.  Door County has had three coronavirus-related deaths, while Kewaunee County has reported one.  You can find the complete testing and pending case numbers of COVID-19 from the Door and Kewaunee County Public Health Departments with this story online.  Wisconsin broke the single-day record of coronavirus tests with reportedly over 4,000 tests performed between Tuesday and Wednesday.  The percentage of positive tests fell for the third consecutive day. A 14-day downward trend in the percentage of positive tests is required before Phase 1 of the Governor's "Badger Bounce Back" plan can be implemented.  


















Lienau reflects on COVID-19 experience

While hosting municipal meetings and doing media interviews urging non-residents to stay at home, Sister Bay Village President and Door County Board Chairperson Dave Lienau was the self-described “walking billboard” for social distancing. Lienau says it is likely he contracted COVID-19 while returning from his skiing vacation in Aspen, which was a hot spot for the virus in Colorado. He had what felt like an odd cold, displaying multiple symptoms of COVID-19 over the course of his sickness but never all at once. Recovering from the illness, he was able to finally confirm his suspicions when he eventually got a positive antibody test after the first meeting with his Veterans Affairs doctor. Looking back, Lienau was happy the village and the county took social distancing and other preventative measures seriously.


Lienau is happy no one got sick during the time meetings were still being held in person. Both the village and the county have allowed for video conferencing for meetings in the weeks since.

Prodell steers towards her work as Hereford queen

Even though much of her life has gone virtual in recent weeks, it is anything but for Marie Prodell and her Herefords.  A senior at Algoma High School, Prodell is the 2020 Wisconsin Hereford Association Queen and serves as the secretary on the organization’s junior board. Her roles have her traveling around the state and across the country exhibiting her own Hereford cattle as well as promoting the breed at fairs and shows. Prodell says Herefords are unlike any other breed of cattle she has shown over the years.

A future UW-River Falls student, Prodell hopes other shows like the one she has helped plan with the Wisconsin Hereford Association in June do not get canceled. While she waits, Prodell has been able to participate in some virtual events. She will travel to Kansas City this October to compete for the title of National Hereford Queen.


Picture courtesy of Wisconsin Hereford Association Royalty Facebook page



Video from last year's Wisconsin State Fair



Southern Door surprises seniors

Under other circumstances, members of the senior class at Southern Door High School may have been weirded out by having their principal on their front yard. Wednesday was not one of those days. Members of the Southern Door High School faculty surprised its senior students with a bag of graduation goodies including their diploma cover, a front-yard sign, and their cap and gown. Principal Steve Bousley says it was good to see their students in person and make them feel special since their last year at Southern Door has been anything but usual.

Bousley says he is looking forward to celebrating the class of 2020 all month long even if it is from a distance. The high school is planning on doing their awards celebration and graduation virtually on May 20th and 24th respectively before hopefully hosting an in-person commencement on July 1st.  


Picture courtesy of Steve Bousley

Finding the funny

Even in quarantine Rogue Theater is finding a way to make light of the situation. The Sturgeon Bay performing arts group just kicked off their second funny video contest this month after crowning Hope Copiskey its winner in April. Rogue Theater Managing Director Stuart Champeau was not sure what kind of response they would get, but he has been impressed with the creativity shown in the community.

Champeau says the contest has allowed them to be introduced to people that could perform with Rogue Theater once live performances are able to take place. 



No need for mass COVID19 testing in Door County

Door County has no plans for the massive COVID19 testing now available in Brown County.  A drive up testing site was set up at the Resch Center this week and will continue through May 16th.  Door County Administrator Ken Pabich says the number of cases in our area doesn't yet require massive testing.  He says existing testing protocols are working and available to people in need.



While Door County has a lower population, Pabich also believes social distancing has helped keep the numbers of COVID19 cases low.

New "Giving Tuesday" reiterates importance of charitable organizations

As a way to help out non-profit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, yesterday was designated as Giving Tuesday.  It was the second such date in the last six months promoting charitable contributions.  Typically reserved for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year, the new global day of giving was designed to help non-profits that have been hit hard by the health crisis fallout.  Door County Community Foundation President & CEO Bret Bicoy says non-profits are essential to Door County’s quality of life.



Giving Tuesday in 2019 reportedly totaled a record high of $511 million with online charitable donations.  The Door County Community Foundation provides grants and scholarships in the community and has worked with many of the 350 non-profit groups located in Door County.    


City of Sturgeon Bay in "good shape" financially

Despite seeing a potential shortfall of revenue totaling $96,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Sturgeon Bay is sitting in a relatively good financial position to handle the impact right now. Tuesday's Sturgeon Bay Common Council meeting gave city councilmembers a chance to hear from Brian Anderson from WIPLI's CPAs and Consultants of Madison.  Anderson shared a snapshot of an audit of the city's financial statements from 2019.  The opinion was that Sturgeon Bay’s finances look to be in relatively good health.



The City Council also considered the Financial Management Plan that showed the potential lost revenue from room taxes and user fees this year along with additional costs incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic, including $22,000 in precautions taken during this past April's election.  The city could practically balance the shortfall by delaying the hiring of two positions, including an assistant administrator.  Other action taken Tuesday evening included ratification of resolutions that waived sidewalk cafe permit fees this year and delaying payments for Class B Beer and Liquor licenses for 2020-2021.

Leadership changes at Boys & Girls Club of Door County

The Boys & Girls Club of Door County announced Monday that CEO Brian Stezenski-Williams had left the organization to return to his home in Wausau.  Stezenski-Williams was named the interim CEO for the Boys & Girls Club one year ago before taking the position permanently this past November.  Boys & Girls Club of Door County Board President Fran Shefchik says during these times of uncertainty, the organization will continue to provide meaningful programming for its members with the current leadership staff in place.


Stezenski-Williams came to Door County with over 20 years of experience with the Wausau Boys & Girls Club.  The Boys & Girls Club of Door County currently has over 200 members.


Kewaunee County up to 25 cases of COVID-19;  Door County remains at 18

The Kewaunee County Public Health Department updated the number of positive cases to 25 for the county on Tuesday afternoon.  That is an increase of three cases in one day with 15 cases remaining active and nine cases that have been cleared, according to the Kewaunee County website.  The one COVID-19-related death in Kewaunee County was on April 13.   Public Health officials are advising people to follow the guidelines set forward by the “Safer at Home Order” and to follow the recommendations from the CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  Door County remains at 18 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon.  No specific information or names can be released due to privacy laws.  


Memorial Day Ceremonies canceled in Kewaunee County

Due to concerns over COVID-19, Kewaunee County has canceled this year’s services surrounding the Memorial Day ceremony.  The ceremony and wreath-laying are always held at the Kewaunee County Courthouse by the War Memorial stone monument.  Robert Stearns, Kewaunee County Veterans Service Officer, says that although the annual event will not happen this year, people should take time on Memorial Day at home to honor those who have paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedoms.



Local veteran organizations are still planning on placing flags on the graves of soldiers in honor of their service to our country.  Stearns adds that the Kewaunee County Veterans Service staff will make sure that the names of all veterans lost this year are added to the 2021 Memorial Day ceremony.  Gravesite ceremonies with 21-gun salutes are still being planned at area cemeteries this year.   




Getting back to work after exposure

As businesses start to slowly open up across the state, Door County health officials are asking employees to be safe when deciding when to go back after being exposed to COVID-19. Proper protocol varies from business to business, but the Centers for Disease Control recommends people stay in quarantine for at least 14 days as a precaution. Door County Public Health Manager Sue Powers says their team wants to keep track of your symptoms during that time period since it can take a couple of days for them to show up. As for going back to work after being infected with COVID-19 or a similar virus, Powers recommended during Monday’s joint Facebook Live session with Door County Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Heise that their symptoms should improve for at least three days straight before leaving isolation.

The list of COVID-19 symptoms has grown over the course of the pandemic to include fever, coughing, loss of taste, and body aches. Dr. Heise added that not everyone has all of those symptoms because everybody’s body fights the virus differently. 





Fairs prepare for influx of entries

The late dates of fairs like those in Door and Brown Counties could be a saving grace for kids this summer. Last week, the Kewaunee County Fair canceled its 2020 event due to concerns about COVID-19. Held three weeks later, the Door County Fair could be an option for those kids after opening their event to Kewaunee County last year. Fair Board President Tom Ash hopes kids like his have the opportunity to show their projects this year as his committee puts the hard work in to make sure they are able to put on a safe event July 29th through August 2nd.

Brown County Fair President Steve Corrigan knows this could be a busy year for his event if other counties follow Kewaunee’s lead due to their late August date. The Brown County Fair also allows surrounding counties to participate and he says they are working hard so they are prepared for their event August 19th through August 23rd.

Oneida and Kewaunee Counties are the only fairs to be canceled so far for 2020, but other announcements could be on the way as other related events begin in June.

Michigan Street Bridge to close this week

Motorists traveling through downtown Sturgeon Bay on Thursday will have to adjust their travel plans. The Michigan Street Bridge is scheduled to be closed to motorists and pedestrians in order to do its annual spring maintenance, which includes cleaning the machinery spaces, grates, and deck while also doing an inspection. Mark Kantola from the Wisconsin DOT says the inspection for a bridge like Michigan Street’s is very thorough.

The Michigan Street Bridge will be closed from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge will remain open for crosstown traffic after having its work delayed at least one week due to cold temperatures.

Kitchens to run for fourth term

State Representative Joel Kitchens announced Tuesday his intentions to run for a fourth term representing the first district in the Wisconsin Assembly. During his current term, the Sturgeon Bay Republican has helped lead efforts in education and the environment as members of the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality and the Blue Ribbon Committee on School Funding. He says getting the state back to where it was before the COVID-19 pandemic will be a priority.

Rep. Kitchens is the first Republican and the second candidate to announce their intentions to run this fall for the First Assembly District. Kim Delorit Jensen announced her candidacy as a potential Democratic challenger on Monday.

Kewaunee man dies in accident

A 46-year-old Kewaunee man died Monday morning while working on a piece of industrial equipment.


According to a release from the Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Matt Joski, Justin D. Kuehl was working on a skid steer at his home when he got trapped underneath the machine. Deputies responded to the scene after 8:15 a.m. after receiving a 911 call. Deputies were able to free Kuehl, but not before he passed away.


The incident remains under investigation.

Overcoming the feeling of isolation – Mental Health Minute "Self-Help" Part II 

Sturgeon Bay Psychologist Dr. Dennis White believes that “self-care” is an essential first step in managing one’s fears and stresses. As people work through the challenges of isolation and staying at home brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. White says engaging in physical fitness as well as keeping your mind active are simple ways that can help. He suggests interactions with others and expressing shared experiences as two ways to remain hopeful.



You can listen to Dr. White’s entire Mental Health Minute on self-care with the audio link below.




Deaths in Kewaunee County apparent murder-suicide

A couple's death on Washington Road in the Township of Ahnapee north of Algoma has been initially considered a murder-suicide by the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department.  According to the news release on Monday evening, 71-year-old Dennis A. McMillan apparently shot Laura McMillan, 56, multiple times at their home before turning the gun on himself.  The Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department was called to the residence for a welfare check last Friday.  Upon arriving at the home, sheriff deputies observed two bodies on the floor through a window after no one came to the door.  The incident remains under investigation with the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation assisting the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department.  No other details are available at this time.   


18 positive cases confirmed in Door County of COVID-19

Three additional cases of COVID-19 were announced by Door County Public Health officials on Monday afternoon.  That brings the total to 18 total cases with seven recoveries and three deaths. There have been 435 tests performed with a total of 382 negative results and 35 tests pending.  Public Health determined last Friday that community spread of COVID-19 is now present in Door County.  The first reported death in Door County was a man in his 70’s three weeks ago.  No other details will be disclosed due to privacy laws.







Kewaunee County reports two more positive cases of COVID-19 on Monday

The Kewaunee County Public Health Department announced two more confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday.  That brings the total of positive coronavirus cases in Kewaunee County to 22.  According to the Kewaunee County website, 12 cases remain active while nine cases have been cleared.  The only COVID-related death was reported on April 13.  The first positive case of the novel coronavirus in Kewaunee County was on April 5th.  The Kewaunee County Public Health Department is working to identify and contact others who may have been in close contact with the people diagnosed with COVID-19.  No other information is being reported at this time.  Names cannot be released due to HIPAA laws. 



Kewaunee County website




Audit to show COVID-19 impact on city

Tuesday’s Sturgeon Bay Common Council meeting will help paint a picture for the entire county in terms of the impact of COVID-19.  Room taxes and user fees are expected to be down this year due to the health crisis, while the personal protective equipment for its public safety members and poll workers added to the city’s expenditures. City administrator Josh VanLieshout says it is good the city looks at these numbers now rather than later.

The Sturgeon Bay Common Council will also consider waiving sidewalk café permit fees and a delay in payment for Combination Class B Beer and Liquor license fees when it meets on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Hospitals to offer elective surgeries again

Hospitals across the country including Door County Medical Center will begin doing elective surgeries for patients beginning this week. Florida, Minnesota, and North Carolina are three other states allowing the procedures to be done again after suspending them for a few weeks out of concern for COVID-19. Door County Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Heise says they will start with the procedures that should not be waiting any longer while taking extra precautions.

Heise says some people are eager to get things taken care of but adds others are still opting to wait things out a little longer if it is not urgent. He credits precautions like universal masking and washing hands with helping keep people healthier during the pandemic.

Tourism grows again in Door, Kewaunee Counties

More tourists spent more money in Door and Kewaunee Counties during their visits in 2019. Data release from the state on Monday showed direct visitor spending increased by more than four percent in Kewaunee County and greater than two percent in Door County. Only six counties saw more direct visitor spending than Door County and just seven counties saw a bigger percentage jump from 2018 than Kewaunee County. Tourism coordinator Jennifer Gonzalez credits its outdoor recreation activities like charter fishing for Kewaunee County’s growth.

Gonzalez says the county with help from its three chambers also focused more on an effort to become a second choice for people visiting the area for Packers games. Both Kewaunee and Door Counties also saw growth in total business sales, employment, and total labor income.


Total Tourism Impacts





Jensen prepares for Assembly seat run

Restaurant owner Kim Delorit Jensen will try her hand at politics after announcing her intentions Monday to run for the First Assembly District seat as a Democrat. The owner of four different businesses in Egg Harbor and Fish Creek, Jensen feels more needs to be done to help protect the environment, keep workers off of state and federal benefits, and have everyone pay their fair share for improvements. She points to her experience as a small business owner as to how she can help implement change in the First District.

Jensen is in the process of getting the necessary signatures for her nomination papers in order to get on the partisan primary ballot on August 11th. If she were to advance to the general election, Jensen would likely face Republican incumbent Rep. Joel Kitchens, who has also started the process to run for his third term in the First Assembly District.

Sturgeon Bay School District, Coalition step up for Gibraltar

Students in the Gibraltar Area School District will not miss a day of lunch thanks to the Sturgeon Bay School District and the Door County Emergency Support Coalition. Gibraltar Area School District Superintendent Tina Van Meer announced Sunday night that the two groups will coordinate with each other to make sure meals get to four Northern Door sites three days a week. The lunches will be assembled at the Sturgeon Bay School District before being picked up and distributed by coalition volunteers at the Gibraltar Fire Station, the Egg Harbor Fire Station, Sister Bay Fire Station, and Baileys Harbor Town Hall. This week the lunches will be distributed on Tuesday in addition to its usual Monday/ Wednesday/Friday schedule. Gibraltar Area School District was forced to discontinue its meal delivery service after a staff member working in the building was exposed to COVID-19 outside of the school building.



More COVID-19 cases confirmed in Door and Kewaunee Counties

The Kewaunee County Public Health Department announced two more confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.  That brings the total in Kewaunee County to 20.   According to the Health Department's website, 10 cases remain active while nine cases are listed as recovered. The sole COVID-related death was reported on April 13th.  The Kewaunee County Public Health Department is working to identify and contact others who may have had prolonged exposure to the people diagnosed with COVID-19.  Names cannot be released due to HIPAA laws. 


The Wisconsin Department of Health Services lists the total number of COVID-19 cases in Door County at 15. has not received confirmation of the change from the public health department yet. The county provides updates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon.

Dorr Hotel construction proceeding

Construction work on the Dorr Hotel continues despite the COVID19 pandemic.  Groundbreaking for the 47-unit hotel took place in December and work crews have been busy since then.  Construction is considered to be an essential business under the “Safer at Home” regulations.  Sister Bay Village Administrator Beau Bernhoft says those project phases now underway at the Dorr Hotel site allow for safe distancing for craft workers and are keeping the project on schedule.




The Dorr Hotel is located at the corner of Bay Shore Drive and Mill Road and is currently scheduled to open in early 2021.

Coronavirus adding to workload of Veteran Services Office

Kewaunee County Veteran Services Officer Robert Stearns says he has been doing a lot of learning the past six weeks, much of it outside the traditional scope of his job. Stearns says that older veterans have often used him for help in a digital world. That includes anything from pension benefits related to the careers they had after they served to VA programs and now telehealth options. Stearns says he is happy to assist in any way he can, but it is much easier to do in person, an option that is unavailable for several more weeks.


Stearns gives the VA high marks in how it has handled the coronavirus pandemic.


Sturgeon Bay Library restarts pickup service

The Sturgeon Bay branch of the Door County Library is lending again. Late fees are still waived for all outstanding materials, including books, until June 1st, but returns are being accepted and recirculated among the community. Assistant Librarian Morgan Mann explains the quarantine process for books.


Pickup service runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Tuesday and noon to 6:00 PM on Thursday. It is happening at the Sturgeon Bay location and involves only books that are at the branch. Interlibrary lending will return when the “Safer at Home” order is lifted. Those interested in borrowing a book must call.


Ask restaurants how you can help support them

Kristine Hillmer, President of the Wisconsin Restaurants Association, says that when it comes to supporting restaurants, it’s best to cut out the middle man. Hillmer suggests that patrons who wish to help during the coronavirus pandemic should purchase from the business directly, including gift cards. Hillmer also reminds consumers to ask if the restaurant provides delivery before turning to apps like DoorDash.


With dining rooms closed, most restaurants have seen a steep loss of revenue for the past two months. Hillmer says it is imperative that they get 100 percent of the support you are trying to provide.


YMCA part of National Day of Giving

The Door County YMCA is chalking up a big win, literally. The National Day of Giving is planned for Tuesday to help nonprofits who are seeing donations slide as demand for their services increases. To tie into that event, the Y wants members and others in the community to create a masterpiece on their driveway. Annual Giving Director Alyssa Dantoin says your chalk art is sure to be enjoyed by those taking advantage of the warm weekend weather.


Chalk art has a strong tradition in Sturgeon Bay, given the annual fall festival. The Door County Y has been busy during the shutdown providing meals for the community and hosting several blood drives. Those activities can continue only with participation and support from area residents.


Sturgeon Bay accepting construction bids

Firms wishing to bid on a contract for crack sealing work in the City of Sturgeon Bay need to have paperwork filed by May 11th. Applications are submitted to the City Clerk. In addition to making sure i’s are dotted, and t’s are crossed, the city requires a five percent bid bond. City Engineer Chad Shefchik explains the need for that protection.


The company which wins the contract must finish all work by October 9th. Crack sealing can be completed within hours and is generally a minor nuisance to traffic.


Crescent Beach improvement efforts underway

The City of Algoma is making sure Crescent Beach is in good shape for visitors, especially as the weather turns milder and more people get outside looking for a break from COVID19 “Safer at Home” restrictions.  High water levels on Lake Michigan, however, have made that challenging.  Mayor Wayne Schmidt says over the winter the higher lake levels left much debris to be removed from Crescent Beach before resurfacing could begin.




Mayor Schmidt says the city also hopes to begin a long-planned effort to reduce beach erosion caused by stormwater runoff from nearby Highway 42.




The Crescent Beach Stormwater Improvement Project is estimated to cost between $400,000 and $500,000.  Bids for that project are being accepted up until 2:00 PM, May 8th.  That's when the bids will be opened and a recommendation for a winning bid could be made to the full city council.

Art crawl finds new medium

The eight entities that make up the Ellison Bay Arts are taking to Facebook to continue their spring tradition. There are two art crawls each year, both popular, according to Diane McNeil, who manages the group’s social media presence and is co-owner of Ellison Bay Pottery. The spring version typically happens over two days on the third weekend of May. This year, it will be done through Facebook with 15-minute segments appearing throughout the day on the 16th.


McNeil says seven of the Ellison Bay Arts businesses will be participating with one sitting the Facebook edition out. McNeil hopes for the area to be operating as usual by July, as that is when profits are typically at their peak.


People flock to Crossroads for trails, birdwatching

Director Coggin Heeringa says that people are gaining an appreciation for the entire Crossroads experience over the past six weeks. Visitors who only took advantage of the historic village and educational programs are discovering the trails for the first time. Heeringa says bird watching is a popular activity right now. Depending on where you hike on the grounds, you can see a wide variety of species.


Warblers will become more and more prevalent until peak near the middle of the month. Crossroads is a stopover point for migratory birds and can substitute for other Door County events like Bird Fest on Washington Island, which has been canceled this year.


*Sandhill crane pictured above


Kewaunee County reports three additional COVID-19 cases Saturday

The Kewaunee County Public Health Department announced three more confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.  That brings the total in Kewaunee County to 18.   According to the Health Department's website, eight cases remain active while nine cases are listed as recovered.  With two additional recoveries, the number of active cases increased by only one. The sole COVID-related death was reported on April 13th.  The Kewaunee County Public Health Department is working to identify and contact others who may have had prolonged exposure to the people diagnosed with COVID-19.  Names cannot be released due to HIPAA laws. 

Two found dead in Ahnapee Township

Two people were found dead by the Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department on Friday night at a residence in the town of Ahnapee. Deputies conducted a welfare check, knocking on the door of the residence with no response from inside. Looking through a window, they were able to determine that two individuals were dead inside the home. Sheriff Joski says that further details about what happened to the two, a 71-year-old man and a 56-year-old woman, will be provided at a later date. You can read the press release in its entirety below. 




Incident # 20-02742 #1
(Algoma, WI) On May1, 2020 at approximately 7:43 p.m. the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department received a request to conduct a welfare check at a residence in the Township of Ahnapee. Caller stated that they had not heard from an acquaintance who lives at the residence for a few days and is concerned. Upon arrival, Deputies attempted contact, with no response. Deputies did then look through a window of the residence and observed the bodies of two individuals located on the floor. 

Upon making entrance to the home, it was determined that the two individuals, who resided at that residence, were in fact deceased. The deceased were a 71 year old male subject, along with a 56 year old female subject. There were no other persons in the residence at the time. This incident does not pose a safety threat to the community.
This incident remains under investigation with the assistance of the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation.

International musicians playing piece from local composer

Wisconsin native Jacob Beranek will only be a senior in college come fall, but his contributions to the musical world are already getting noticed around the globe. Beranek’s family has a summer home in Egg Harbor, and that helped introduce him to Midsummer’s Music, where Beranek is now a composer in residence. Executive Director Allyson Fleck says the organization debuted a Beranek piece last summer that has made it to Korea.


Beranek is attending Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. He has also spent time honing his craft in Prague in the Czech Republic.


*Photo courtesy of Midsummer's Music website

Door County adds to coronavirus task force

The Door County Emergency Management office is beefing up its coronavirus task force, adding representatives of the business community to the group as the focus shifts slowly towards the implementation of the Badger Bounce Back program. Director Dan Kane lists the different stakeholders.


Kane says the task force has an important job because there is only one chance to get this right. It is a difficult job, he says, because the virus will dictate what the group can accomplish to a large extent. The disease cannot be the only factor, though. Kane says everyone realizes it is a balancing act between public health and economic concerns.


Gibraltar school building closed due to coronavirus exposure

An essential employee who has been working at the Gibraltar school building in compliance with the “Safer at Home” regulations has been exposed to an individual who tested positive for the coronavirus. It happened outside of the school building, but the district is taking precautions and closing down the campus to clean the facilities thoroughly. Teachers and other essential employees are not allowed to access the building until it has been sanitized. Additionally, food preparation will be halted as well as food deliveries to students. The district says it is trying to find alternative options to keep the meal program going until the building is cleared for personnel again.



Fertilizing a key factor for healthy plants

Outdoor plants and flowers are starting to bloom in May, and local experts are recommending a consistent weekly fertilizing to keep them healthy.  Newly planted shrubs and vegetation require even more attention early on.  Phil Faustini from Follet’s Watch Us Grow in Door County, explains the importance of fertilizing plants right now.



Faustini says even if your trees or shrubs look a little rough, they can bounce back quickly.



Faustini says you can back off on fertilizing certain vegetables at mid-season but flowers can be fed consistently throughout the spring and summer.  With Watch Us Grow fertilizer, in most cases, one ounce of concentrate liquid per gallon of water is a sufficient mixture to obtained desired results, according to Faustini.


Sturgeon Bay math teacher e-learning with students

A local high school math teacher is learning right along with his students as e-learning continues through the end of the semester.  Cliff Wind, a math teacher from Sturgeon Bay High School, has been working with students for over 25 years and says he feels like a first-year instructor now as he embraces the new cyber-learning format. Wind has been utilizing teleconferencing to interact with students virtually and has set up mini-lectures that he records and sends to the kids. He adds that online learning tools are available as well to help students.



Students and teachers are making the best with e-learning, according to Wind, but it’s not the way education was meant to be taught. He notes that 75 percent of education is through social interaction, and the lack of true closure for the school year is disappointing.    


Door County reports third death from COVID-19; two additional cases as community spread found

UPDATE - As of Sunday night, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services lists the total number of COVID-19 cases in Door County at 15. has not received confirmation of the change from the public health department yet. The county provides updates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon.


The third death related to COVID-19 was announced by Door County Public Health officials on Friday afternoon as community spread is now present.  Two additional positive cases also were announced bringing the total to 14 in Door County with seven recoveries. There have been 399 tests performed with a total of 327 negative results and 58 tests pending.  Public Health now says that it has been determined that there is community spread of the illness and that the source of the infection is unknown.  The first reported death in Door County was a man in his 70’s two weeks ago.  No other details will be disclosed due to privacy laws.




Kewaunee County COVID-19 cases up to 15

The Kewaunee County Public Health Department announced two more confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday.  That brings the total of positive coronavirus cases in Kewaunee County to 15.   According to the Kewaunee County website, seven cases remain active while seven cases have been cleared.  The only COVID-related death was reported on April 13.  The first positive case of the novel coronavirus in Kewaunee County was on April 5th.  The Kewaunee County Public Health Department is working to identify and contact others who may have been in close contact with the people diagnosed with COVID-19.  No other information is being reported at this time.  Names cannot be released due to HIPAA laws.  



Kewaunee County website

Bridge work postponed again in Sturgeon Bay

Maintenance work on the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge in Sturgeon Bay has been delayed again.  Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced another delay due to colder temperatures forecasted for next week.  The low temperatures would inhibit the ability to apply a polymer overlay to the bridge surface.   The future work on the bridge will include concrete deck repairs, laying a polymer overlay to protect their work, marking the pavement, and rebalancing the lift spans during the month-plus long project.  Repairs on the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge, which was to begin Monday and continue through May 15, will now be rescheduled for a later date.  The full project was originally expected to be finished by June 19.


County holding their own tracking cases

Keeping tabs of potential COVID-19 cases in Door and Kewaunee Counties involves a lot of steps for a long period of time. Kewaunee County Public Health Director Cindy Kinnard explained the process earlier this week during the Kewaunee County Board meeting. After people are tested, public health department officials ask them a host of questions like who they live with, who have they seen, and where they have been before explaining how to self-quarantine. They follow up with the people tested whether the results come back negative or positive until the symptoms are gone for at least three days. At six to nine hours of work per person per case, Kinnard says that is part of the reason why contact tracing can be chaotic at times for a team she says is holding its own.

Kinnard told the board she wishes the county had more personal protective equipment at their disposal as the state slowly opens up. She was encouraged that the weekly number of cases has remained flat and hospitals have been able to keep up.


Watch the full COVID-19 Update below


Non-profits work through pandemic

Door County non-profit organizations are holding their own as the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic closes in on two months. Used to being able to break ground by now, Door County Habitat for Humanity is cautiously optimistic about beginning its 43rd home build soon. The Safer at Home order has delayed the start of the project slated for northern Door County in the summer as well as the organization’s other repair projects. Megan Dietz from Door County Habitat for Humanity says the pandemic is having its effect not just on the projects they can do but the money they can raise.

Some Door County non-profits have been able to survive during this time thanks to the efforts of the Door County Emergency Response Fund. The joint effort between the United Way of Door County and the Door County Community Foundation has raised over $415,000 since it was reactivated this spring.

Senator hopes businesses approach PPP wisely

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson wants to make sure small businesses in Wisconsin that are truly in need can take advantage of Payroll Protection Program. Over $600 billion has been committed to the PPP, with over nine percent of the state’s small businesses receiving funds according to Senator Johnson is concerned that without the proper safeguards in place, the small businesses that need help the most are not getting it.

After requesting higher qualifying standards before the most recent stimulus bill was passed, Senator Johnson suggests companies receiving PPP funds not have their loans completely forgiven if they make more money in 2020 than they did in 2019.

May Crowning different for Champion Shrine

What is usually one of the biggest weekends of the year for the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion will have a different feel this year. Catholics around the world celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary during the month of May with a number of different rites and prayers. As the country’s only officially recognized Marian apparition site, the Shrine has in the past celebrated with a 21-mile pilgrimage from St. Norbert College to its chapel, crowning its Mary statue, and hosting special masses. Worries about the COVID-19 pandemic have made many of those events virtual. Father John Broussard, the Shrine’s rector, says even though pilgrims may not be able to celebrate together on its grounds, he hopes they keep the meaning of the weekend in their hearts.

After renewing the consecration of the United States to the Blessed Virgin Mary on Friday afternoon, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help will continue to stream its daily masses at 8:30 a.m.

Help of Door County services still available

A local organization is reaching out to the community even more as an increase of domestic violence cases has been reported nationally during the shelter at home imposed during the COVID-19 crisis.  Help of Door County is still operating with full services for clients that need assistance.  Even before the pandemic, research showed that one in four adult women in the U.S. and one in seven men had experienced abuse from a partner.  Milly Gonzales, executive director at Help of Door County, says although the office is closed to the public, volunteers are on call.



Gonzales adds that there are vulnerable people in the community, and if you hear or see arguments next door or suspect child abuse, report it to the local authorities.  


Special giveaway for pet owners in Sturgeon Bay Saturday

Two Sturgeon Bay couples are coming together to help those who are financially hurting at this time by giving away free pet supplies. George and Sue Neuman, along with Bill and Carol Babb are donating their time and money this Saturday for three hours to make a difference in the community.  A table stand in front of Alley Katz Boutique on Madison Avenue Saturday will offer free cat and dog supplies to anyone that may need some help right now.  George Neuman says they all love animals, and the idea is to support the community as much as possible.



The free pickup will be held from 9 am until noon on Saturday.  Curbside service will include dog food and treats, as well as cat food and kitty litter.


Fishing season opens on Saturday

As anglers head out on the water this weekend for the official opening weekend of inland fishing statewide, Door County’s smallmouth bass season started early on April 1 with catch-and-release which was new this year.  Charter Captain Jimmy Doerring in Sturgeon Bay shares another rule change this year designed to protect smallmouth bass in Rowley’s Bay.



Doerring estimates that the water temperatures range from 42 to 45 degrees in the Green Bay right now.  He adds that warmer temperatures should help increase the bass activity when it rises above 55 degrees and the fish start spawning in mid-May. 



(photo courtesy of Cast N Catch Charters) 


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