News Archives for 2020-08

Door County Archives plans proceed slowly

The proposed site for the new Door County Archives building is undergoing cost and use studies.  The county purchased the former Younker's Furniture store building on Fourth Avenue in Sturgeon Bay last year.  Several design options have been considered. County Administrator Ken Pabich says input is now being sought from the Door Public Library and the Miller Art Museum.  He also says some records and artifacts have been moved to other county-owned locations to aid preservation efforts.




A former home on Michigan Street had served as the Door County Archives.  That building has since been demolished and the site is expected to be used as a parking area for the new archives facility.

Choir cancels fall season and winter concert

The Peninsula Singers will stay silent for the rest of 2020. They announced this week the cancellation of their fall season and winter concert. The group has a rich history, stretching back nearly 50 years. Members come from across Door and Kewaunee Counties, consisting of young and old. Board President Jeanne Barnard says that, unfortunately, singing indoors remains a high-risk activity for COVID-19 transmission. She is hopeful that an online performance can be possible by year’s end.


The group has two primary concerts per year, with one of those happening at the Sturgeon Bay United Methodist Church. The other floats between locations. Barnard says the Peninsula Singers perform a variety of genres and are gladly taking donations to help during the pandemic. In the spring, the Singers had already committed to a director’s salary and purchased songbooks and rights for music before they were forced to wait out the pandemic.


Parks and Facilities Committee tours southern Door County

New supervisors on the county’s Parks and Facilities Committee got to go on a field trip Thursday. Director Wayne Spritka and Chair Dan Austad led the group on a tour beginning at LaSalle County Park and winding across southern Door, including the hotly debated Forestville Millpond. Members of the Friends of the Forestville Dam, who oppose the county’s drawdown plan, were also there to help rescue a deer trapped to its shoulders in mud. Member Christine Reid says that even after a hot and dry July, there was still plenty of moisture in the flowage. It takes only a little rain for great sums of water to funnel towards the flowage from the surrounding areas and the Ahnapee Watershed.


Reid says that the county’s plan requires the flowage to dry out completely, and nine months after its start, that is a long way from happening. Additionally, when the dam valve is finally closed, and the flowage returns, the Friends group predicts it could be another five years before the area’s ecosystem gets back to normal.


Forestville flowage on Thursday, August 6th.



NFL Draft and other Lambeau events a boost for Door County

The possibility of Lambeau Field hosting the 2024 NFL Draft and other national events excites Door County tourism officials.  Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy recently announced at the virtual shareholders meeting that the team is one of three finalists for the 2024 draft sessions. Murphy also says Lambeau Field is applying to host the Big Ten Championship game between 2023 and 2030.  Jon Jarosh with Destination Door County says it's not known exactly what the economic impact would be from such events.  Although, he says past experience shows visitors will be looking beyond Green Bay for places to see.




Door County and Green Bay hoped to pick up additional tourism business when U-W Madison and Notre Dame played at Lambeau Field this fall.  That game has been tentatively rescheduled for 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Underground cable project begins Monday

American Transmission Company is starting a project Monday to lay a new submarine electrical line in Sturgeon Bay. Work will cause closures to several downtown locations sporadically between now and May of next year. 


• Second Avenue between Nebraska and Oregon Streets (northeast of Graham park) will be closed beginning the week of Aug. 10, 2020, through mid-December 2020.

• The City of Sturgeon Bay parking lot on Nebraska Street, between First and Second Avenues, will be closed Aug. 10, 2020, through May 2021.

• One lane on Neenah Avenue near Sawyer Park will be closed for up to four weeks in December 2020 and January 2021. Driveways and access points on Neenah Avenue are scheduled to remain open.

• First Avenue between Nebraska and Oregon Streets will be closed for construction for approximately two weeks in January 2021.


The transmission line consists of four cables that have a total capacity of 69,000 volts. It replaces a conduit laid in the early 1980s. The project is estimated to have a cost of over $12 million.



Picture of American Transmission President and CEO, Mike Rowe, courtesy of the company's website.

Ephraim moving forward post-Streetscape

Two years and $4.85 million later, Ephraim’s streetscape ad hoc committee has completed their duties.  The infrastructure project included 2500 lineal feet of roadway construction in Ephraim along with lighting and sidewalks.  Ephraim Administrator Brent Bristol says the ad hoc committee recently discussed their future.



Bristol notes that the ad hoc committee will probably not continue to meet, but remain intact in order to receive regular updates through the village board.  On Tuesday, the village board will be considering the request by the facilities committee to replace the three main Ephraim signs on the highway which compliments the new streetscape.   

Elder abuse program being implemented

A federal pilot program addressing elder abuse has been implemented to address the issue in Door County.  The State of Wisconsin Justice Department applied for a grant with the federal government to offer one of five pilot programs that are an offshoot of the Door County Coordinated Community Response.  Anni Lampert, Help of Door County advocate, had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to learn how to train law enforcement professionals and other service providers to identify signs of elderly abuse.



Lampert notes that elder abuse caused by controlling behavior can mirror those impacting other people.  Neglect is one of the bigger issues facing the elderly besides the reported physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or psychological abuse.

Protecting yourself from swimmer's itch

As the area beaches become even more of an attraction in August, public health officials are reminding people to take added precautions to remain healthy after swimming in lakes and other bodies of water.  Besides following the guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control regarding the current health crisis, beach-goers should be aware of allergic reactions that can happen after swimmers leave the water.  Door County Sanitarian and Health Educator Chelsea Smies notes that swimmers itch is a common condition this time of year.  She shares how you can better protect yourself from the skin rash.



Swimmers itch is also known as cercarial dermatitis and is most common in freshwater lakes and ponds.  Smies notes that the condition may be uncomfortable, but usually clears up in a few days. You can find more information on tips to prevent swimmer’s itch below.




COVID-19 Update:  Kewaunee County adds two more cases; Door County stays at 102

The number of positive COVID-19 cases ticked upward in the area again on Friday as the State of Wisconsin reported 12 more deaths and a slight increase in the percentage of new positive cases at seven percent.  Door County Public Health reported no new COVID-19 cases on Friday while noting one additional recovery.  The active cases went down to 18.  Kewaunee County reported two more positive tests bringing their total to 128.  That reflects an increase of 20 new positive tests since Monday.   The active cases remained at 23 with two new recoveries.   You can find the updated COVID-19 report from Door and Kewaunee Counties below.  




BBQ champion calls Sturgeon Bay home

Sturgeon Bay’s Tom MacIntosh proves you do not need to go to Kansas City or Memphis for really good barbeque.  T-Mac Smokin BBQ was born when he took over the food operations at his church’s picnic in Appleton. As the legend grew, he started to enter barbeque competitions across the country which have garnered him grand champion status at the Death’s Door BBQ competition and a fourth-place finish against the best of the best in Lynchburg, Tennessee. The secret to his success he says is loving what he does.

With many competitions canceled this year, T-Mac Smokin BBQ has been popping up at local businesses across the county this summer, including Johnny G’s Fishing Hole on Saturday.


Photo submitted by Tom MacIntosh from "The Jack" , 2019 Jack Daniels World Championship BBQ Competition. His team finished 4th out of 97 teams from all over the world.

Planting into green yielding good results

Members of Peninsula Pride Farms are trying a newer technique this year to help prevent soil erosion. Approximately half of the member farms are “planting into green” this season, which has operators seeding cover crops in between rows of other growing plants. For Brey Cycle Farm in Sturgeon Bay, that means wading through a mixture of radish, clover, ryegrass and sunflowers in between rows of corn. With rain events becoming more extreme when they happen, Tony Brey says having all those plants is helping keep the water where it needs to be.

While it could be harvested for different purposes, much of the cover crops planted  stay in the field to help build organic matter and hold the soil in place. Brey Cycle Farm will host a Peninsula Pride Farms Field Day on September 1st  from 6 to 7 p.m. to go more in depth with the “planting into green” technique.

Positive test dry docks tour company

Vessels at Door County Kayak Tours will remain on dry land for the time being due to a positive COVID-19 test on its staff. The Jacksonport-based business made the announcement on Facebook Thursday, letting customers know they would be canceling booked tours and not taking reservations for the next few days while the rest of their team gets tested. According to their website, Door County Kayak Tours introduced a number of additional safety measures as a part of keeping their guests and employees safe during the pandemic. Some of those extra practices include increased cleaning protocols, encouraging social distancing and masking, and limiting the number of guests in their shop and tours. Since May, close to 10 different businesses in Sister Bay, Ellison Bay, Baileys Harbor, Luxemburg, and Sturgeon Bay have closed their doors temporarily due to positive COVID-19 tests on their staff.

Door County census response lagging

Door County could be costing itself thousands of dollars in funding thanks to a lower than average response to the U.S. Census. Just over 46 percent of Door County households have completed the U.S. Census, compared to just under 70 percent statewide and approximately 75 percent in Kewaunee County. Dan Powers sat on the county’s complete count committee this winter and says one reason why the response rate could be so low is due to confusion with the area’s seasonal residents.

Although the finish line for this year’s census count has been a moving target in recent weeks due to the pandemic, there is still time for people to respond online, by phone, or by mail.


picture courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau

Coping with the prolonged pandemic -- Mental Health Minute series

Dealing with COVID-19 fatigue and the new normal can bring about stressful times.  Sturgeon Bay Psychologist Dr. Dennis White compares managing stress with a tea kettle simmering on a hot stove.  Lowering the heat and using safety valves are valuable techniques in coping with the stress.  Dr. White shares two stress-releasers that are still available.


Dr. White says there is no way to eliminate stress during this pandemic, but there are ways to manage it better.  You can listen to the entire Mental Health Minute on coping with stress by Dr. White below.






Banquet facilities slowly scheduling events

Area dining halls and banquet rooms are adjusting to capacity limits and the new protocols associated with hosting smaller events and family gatherings.  Kelly Froelich of the Rendezvous of Luxemburg says his upstairs banquet hall is spacious enough to socially-distance tables and stools.  He notes that the spacing allows guests to feel more comfortable while still enjoying celebrations and rescheduled events.



Froelich notes that social-distancing at Rendezvous includes the bowling alley downstairs.  He has been preparing for the upcoming bowling season as well.  Bowlers will use every other lane with different teams using different alleys.    


COVID-19 Update: Door County adds one case, Kewaunee County goes up six

The area appears to be following the state's trend of an elevated rate of COVID-19 positive tests.  The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 839 more cases with a 4.7 percent positive testing on Thursday with eight more COVID-19 related deaths.  Door County reported one new positive case for a total of 102 with 19 active cases.  Kewaunee County added six more cases to show 126 total with 23 remaining actives.  Both Door and Kewaunee counties are currently classified as moderately high on the state's COVID-19 activity level.   You can find the updated COVID-19 report from Door and Kewaunee counties online below.




Mud-trapped deer rescued in Forestville

A two-hour collective community effort helped to rescue a deer stuck in the Forestville Mill Pond on Thursday morning.  A full-grown doe was trapped in a quagmire of mud until about 10:45 AM.  Six concerned residents, three Southern Door Fire Department personnel, and a DNR official all worked together to pull the deer to safety.  Southern Door Fire Captain Rich Olson describes how the doe was rescued.



Olson says the rescue crew brought the deer back to dry land to wash off her mud-covered fur.  After a little thrashing, the deer headed back into the woods appearing very healthy.  


(Photo and video courtesy of Robert Sijgers)





The below video of the release of the deer is courtesy of Friends of the Forestville Dam





Second-hand stores keeping people safe

People took the extra time inside to clean out their homes and local second-hand stores are making sure the donations and their volunteers remain safe. Back in June, Door County Habitat for Humanity limited donations to just Tuesdays and Thursdays to allow volunteers enough time to properly clean and sanitize the items. At the recently reopened Algoma Book Corner, the Friends of the Algoma Public Library accept their donations only when they are open on Saturdays. After they are donated, the books are quarantined for three days until they can safely be handled by volunteers. Sue Hass from the Algoma Book Corner says it is all about keeping people safe.

After their first Saturday open last week, Hass was thankful for their customers and their understanding of some of the extra precautions put in place such as customer limits and extra cleaning.


Picture courtesy of the Algoma Book Corner Facebook Page

Finding routine in abnormal school year

The daily routine of their children may be one of the few aspects parents can control ahead of the upcoming school year in Door and Kewaunee Counties. Each school district has developed plans to help parents understand where and when students will be able to report for in-person classes based on certain health metrics. When students are allowed back for in-person instruction, all eight school districts in the two counties will require at least some kind of masking. Karen Corekin-DeLaMer from Sister Bay’s Northern Door Children’s Center says parents should start working with their kids now to prepare for this unique school year.

School is back in session as soon as August 24th for Sevastopol students and September 1st for most everyone else. Corekin-Delamer says Northern Door Children’s Center is currently operating at 50 percent capacity with all staff and students above the age of five masking up.



Rollover accident in Egg Harbor Wednesday

Serious injuries were sustained in a one-car rollover accident near Zion Lutheran Church in Egg Harbor on Wednesday. Chief Deputy Pat McCarty says the incident, which happened on County Road V, is still under investigation and no cause has been determined. A helicopter was needed to transport the victims.


McCarty is currently conducting checks on the health of the driver, and more information is expected to be released soon.


Fairs could get assistance in aid package

Organizers of the Door and Kewaunee County Fairs could get some assistance from the upcoming coronavirus aid package being circulated in the halls of the United States Capitol.  Proposed by  Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California and Rep. Billy Long of Missouri last week, the bipartisan Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act would provide $500 million in grant funding for organizations trying to make up for the money lost because of event cancelations or cutbacks. Door County Fair President Tom Ash says they are not hurting as bad as other fair organizations are across the country, but the grants could offset some of their costs like insurance premiums and down payments for specific acts.

According to the Wisconsin Association of Fairs, 53 of the 75 events including the Door and Kewaunee County Fairs and the Wisconsin State Fair, were canceled due   to concerns surrounding COVID-19. Only 13 of them including the Brown County Fair later this month are open to the public.

Conservation fund bill signed into law

A federal program that has had a huge impact in Door and Kewaunee Counties will be fully funded for the first time since 1965 after being signed into law earlier this week. The Great American Outdoors Act will give full funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund to address a number of projects at national parks and public lands. Since the fund was established, it has supported 48 projects in Door County to the tune of almost $4 million and 11 projects in Kewaunee County at about $280,000. Rep. Mike Gallagher, who co-sponsored the bill, says its passage is good news for the entire state.

According to Investigate West, some of the projects supported by the Land and Water Conservation Fund include improvements at all five Door County-based state parks and the acquisitions of the Little Scarboro Wildlife Area and a village park in Luxemburg.


Official Congressional Photo

Business closes after staff member infected by COVID-19

An area restaurant announced Wednesday that it was shutting down temporarily due to an employee contracting COVID-19. Joe Rouer’s Bar of Luxemburg is expected to be closed until mid-August. It was initially suspected the worker was merely exposed to the virus. On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the staffer is positive for the disease. They are urging patrons who dined there on July 30th or 31st to get tested due to exposure. HIPAA laws prevent more information from being released. reached out for further comment. Joe Rouer’s Bar has put out information online. 


Chinese seed mystery thought to be a business hoax

Mysterious seed packets have made their way to residents of all 50 states, including in Door and Kewaunee Counties. Penne Wilson, from the Door County Seed Library, says the explanation may prove to be a simple scam. She believes that Chinese businesses are engaged in a practice known as brushing. A seller places a fake order for a high-value item such as jewelry or furniture and ships out nothing, or at most something far less significant, like seeds, which they register as a sale. If it goes unnoticed, the seller has padded their total, and they will appear higher up in subsequent searches on e-commerce sites such as Amazon. Wilson says to be careful when trying to dispose of the unwanted seeds.


There have been no reports of health risks or hazards to humans from the packets.


Kewaunee County looking for polling staff

Area municipalities are generally set in regards to poll workers for next week’s primary election. COVID-19 has increased responsibilities for voting locations, though. Namely, more cleaning is necessary, and that takes additional staff for support roles, says Kewaunee County Clerk Jamie Annoye.


The extra hiring means polling sites are prepared in case an unexpected illness or absence crops up Tuesday. Annoye says county and municipal offices have been able to keep up with the flow of mail-in ballot applications. 


Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin County Clerks Association


Door County breaks 100 COVID-19 cases

Wednesday afternoon, Door County reported 101 total COVID-19 cases, an increase of three from the day prior. In Kewaunee County, the jump was more substantial. Seven new infections bring the sum to 120. Active cases for both counties are at 18. Governor Tony Evers instituted a mandatory masking order this past Saturday for all residents who are in public, indoor spaces, and unable to socially distance. It is too early to tell if that will be effective in stemming cases.







Kewaunee County


Historical Society pushing for fall repairs at Potawatomi

If the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society has their way, repairs could be completed on the observation tower at Potawatomi State Park as early as next month. The group says they have a commitment from a contractor to finish the work in ten days for as little as $250,000. That is contingent on the acceptance of the plan by the Department of Natural Resources, which is still recommending a complete tear down similar to the work down at Peninsula State Park’s Eagle Tower. President Christie MacDonald says the area already has an abundance of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant structures.


Two state legislators have signed onto the plan to designate Potawatomi Tower a historical site. MacDonald has tried to reach out to Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole and has also petitioned Governor Tony Evers without response.


Ephraim Fire's phone lines are red hot

The month of July was a hectic one for the Ephraim Fire Department. Chief Justin MacDonald presented the numbers to the village’s Community Protection Committee on Tuesday morning.


Roughly half of those calls pertained to blazes within the village limits, with the rest concerning assistance for other area communities. Higher than average volume continues past Labor Day. MacDonald reports that EMS calls are not seeing the same trend, remaining in line with their long-term average.


Come to Door County and Leave No Trace Behind

Destination Door County says visitors are welcome to enjoy the area's natural beauty.  Just leave nothing behind except footprints.  The organization is teaming up with the Center for Outdoor Ethics “Leave No Trace” behind campaign.  The goal is to sustain healthy natural lands and forests.  Community Advocacy Manager Cambria Mueller says that starts with raising awareness of steps to take for the safety of visitors as well as preserve Door County's natural attractions.




Mueller says Door County's “Leave No Trace” effort also recommends watching for severe weather before venturing out and exercising bonfire safety.

Sturgeon Bay alley off limits

The alley behind the former Younkers location on Third Avenue is off-limits in the near term. A construction project prepping the site for its new tenant has an overhead walkway being torn down. Additionally, an abandoned tunnel that runs underneath the alley is being filled. The work will mean more than a pedestrian and traffic detour, says City Engineer Chad Shefchik.


On Fourth Avenue, where the drop boxes are now located, there is new signage marking the parking spaces immediately surrounding them as five-minute parking. Those slots are designated solely for drop-offs until the depositories can be moved back to their original location.


Boys & Girls Club's Anderson ready to lead

The new interim director of the Boys & Girls Club of Door County is bringing decades of experience to an organization facing new challenges. Eric Anderson took on the CEO-responsibilities for the Boys & Girls Club shortly before the reopening of their building operations on July 2. Anderson says the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted non-profits' way of fundraising the most.



The Boys & Girls Club recently canceled their biggest fundraiser of the year, the 11th Annual Celebrity Golf Outing, which was scheduled next week.  Anderson worked for the Boys & Girls Club in Champaign and was the CEO in Elgin, Illinois for many years going back to the mid-1990s and early 2000s. He also worked in the National Boys & Girls Club Office before starting a consulting business that works with other clubs around the country.


Sturgeon Bay seeks grant for west waterfont

The City of Sturgeon Bay could save over a quarter million dollars on projects associated with the west side waterfront development down the road.  The Sturgeon Bay Common Council approved a resolution Tuesday night to support the application of a Wisconsin Harbor Assistance Program grant.  Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak informed the council that if the grant is approved by the state, the $280,000 would free up money for other potential projects.  The municipal dock improvements in Sturgeon Bay would be consistent with the City's comprehensive plan which is in the process of being finalized.  In other business, the common council approved the increase of pay for election workers for the next two elections.  The pay was increased from $9 an hour to $15 an hour prior to the spring election because of risks associated with COVID-19.  A service agreement with the Town of Sevastopol for fire protection was also approved unanimously for another three years. 


Malzahn remembered for his dedication to Door County

Former Door County Board Chair Harvey Malzahn is being remembered for his many years of serving his community and constituents.  Malzahn passed away last Thursday at his home in Fish Creek at the age of 86.  Door County Supervisor Dan Austad, who served as vice-chair when Malzahn was board chair, says he was a good friend and a man who was always dedicated to his work.



Malzahn had served as the Town of Gibraltar chair and was on the Door County Board of Supervisors from 1972 to 1988.  According to his obituary, he also was the Door County Highway Commissioner for ten years and operated a family painting and decorating business. 


Read Harvey Malzahn's obituary  here

COVID-19 Update:  Door and Kewaunee counties see 12 new cases combined

Door and Kewaunee counties saw a significant increase in positive cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.  Door County Public Health disclosed seven additional positive tests to bring the total to 98 with six more recoveries and 16 active cases.  Kewaunee County reported five more positive tests to show 113 total cases.  They also noted 12 active cases with three new recoveries.  You can find the updated COVID-19 report from Door and Kewaunee Counties online with this story.  The State of Wisconsin reported an increase of 728 new coronavirus cases and 12 new deaths on Tuesday.






New defense work for Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding will benefit from a $759-million contract for a U.S. Navy in-class frigate.  That project was awarded to Fincantieri Marinette Marine in April.  The Sturgeon Bay shipyard will build parts of the frigate hull and transport them to Marinette, similar to current work on the Littoral Combat Ship project.  That could be just the beginning of a long-term project. The Navy has an option for nine additional ships at a total cost of $5.5 billion.  Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding Vice President and General Manager Todd Thayse says that will mean improvements to the Sturgeon Bay yard and additional employment opportunities for those in the skilled trades.


Work on the first U.S. Navy in-class frigates is expected to start in 2021.  Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding plans to file permit requests for the shipyard modifications with the City of Sturgeon Bay this week.  Thayse says those requests are expected to go before the Sturgeon Bay City Council later this month.

Futurity keeps it in the present

It was not a Saturday night at the Kewaunee County Fair, but dozens still got to dress up to take their dairy cows for a stroll around the show ring Saturday afternoon at the fairgrounds in Luxemburg. Kewaunee County Futurity held its 13th annual show as youth and adults exhibited the dairy cows they felt showed promise years ago while donning formal wear. Futurity organizer Charlotte Handschke says even though the event had a slightly different feel to it this year, she was happy about the commitment shown by exhibitors to keep working with their animals during uncertain times.

Jauquet Holsteins took the top spot in the three-year-old and the four-plus-year-old division while Brey Cycle Farm won for best-dressed farm. 


Pictures by Aerica Bjurstrom



New command a homecoming for Quigley

The parents of Lt. Commander Eric Quigley did not have to travel far to see their son take over his first command. The Green Bay native formally took over command of the Cutter Mobile Bay during a virtual ceremony last month after transferring from the branch’s headquarters in Washington D.C.  He put his name in to serve on six other ships across the country, but Quigley is happy for the opportunity to come home.

Quigley looks forward to working with his crew and interacting with the community in the future as he celebrates his first United States Coast Guard Day in Sturgeon Bay.

Broadband proposal moves forward

A plan to expand broadband access throughout Kewaunee County took another step forward on Monday. The Kewaunee County Executive Committee unanimously approved the recommendation to approve the contract between the county and Bug Tussel Wireless. The $2.52 million project is being funded by a matching grant Kewaunee County earned from the Public Service Commission and Bug Tussel Wireless of Green Bay. The project scope includes seven towers to be built throughout the county, but it could change with amendments. Bug Tussel Wireless Chief Operating Officer Jason Wied told the committee it might make sense to build six towers and lease space for their equipment on four to five other towers.

Kewaunee County Corporation Counsel Jeff Wisnicky told that Bug Tussel is contacting property owners to purchase the land needed to build the towers. The recommendation will now go to the Kewaunee County Board for their approval on August 18th.


Picture from original plans for locating broadband towers from the Kewaunee County Executive Commitee Agenda packet



Door County boat ramps get repaired

The Door County Facilities & Parks Department has been dealing with the high water levels this summer at area boat ramps.  Director Wayne Spritka says the biggest problems have been with maintenance projects at some of the popular launching sites in the county.  He shares the recent work that has been done by the county at Murphy Park near Egg Harbor, Lily Bay Park east of Sturgeon Bay, and Sugar Creek Park near Brussels.



Door County Facilities & Parks Department maintains a total of seven boat launches.  Residents can pay a $40.00 annual fee to launch their watercraft or a daily fee of $7.00. 


(photo submitted)  


Northern Sky Theater transitions with new leadership

With a recent changing of the guard, the Northern Sky Theater in Fish Creek has been able to pivot and keep connected with their audience and volunteer base.  The professional theater organization has a new board chair, as Cyndy Stiehl steps into the leadership role succeeding Mary Seeberg.  Artistic Director Jeff Herbst says Stiehl's 23 years of experience as the vice-chair and her passion for the arts make for a seamless transition.



Herbst notes that Northern Sky Theater has been providing original content of virtual shows online which will include the premiering of  "Trunk Songs", a collection of previously unused musical material.  Northern Sky, like other Door County performing arts venues, canceled their summer and upcoming fall schedule due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.




COVID-19 Update:  Door County up six cases, Kewaunee County adds one 

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in  Door and Kewaunee counties increased over the weekend as the State of Wisconsin reported more than a 50 percent drop in new coronavirus cases from Sunday.  Door County Public Health disclosed six additional positive tests to bring the total to 91 with six more recoveries and nine active cases.  Kewaunee County reported one more positive test over the weekend but had two false positives from last Friday's report bringing the total back to 108, according to Public Health Director Cindy Kinnard.   A false positive is determined by two tests requested immediately after the initial positive that show both as negative.  The active cases were down four to ten with three more recoveries noted. The state reported 404 new cases on Monday, down from the 992 positive tests on Sunday.





Sevastopol committee in learning mode on broadband expansion

The future of expanded broadband internet is becoming a frequent topic of discussion with the Town of Sevastopol board members.  The community currently gets limited internet service via the cable TV provider.  Recently, the full town board got an assessment from Hilbert Communications on what's needed in the community to allow broadband internet access to all residents.  That topic will be on the agenda of the Tuesday, August 4th meeting of the Sevastopol Communications and Technology Committee.  Chair Jeanne Vogel says the town will be going through quite a learning experience while planning broadband expansion.



The Sevastopol Communications and Technology Committee meeting is scheduled for 2:15 PM Tuesday at the town hall on Highway 57 in Sevastopol.  Attendees will be required to wear face masks during the meeting.

Hang-ups number 1 emergency call

Often when dispatch operators in Door and Kewaunee Counties pick up the phone, there is no one there to greet them.  911 hang-ups and follow-ups  is the number one call both counties have experienced over the first half of the year. Kewaunee County is on pace to receive 1,300 such calls in 2020. Door County has experienced over 950 hang-ups so far this year, which accounts for approximately 14 percent of their call volume. Many times dialing 911 is an accident, but Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says people need to know that those types of accidents still cause departments time and money.

Door County Emergency Management and Communications Director Daniel Kane recommends people stay on the line to explain what happened so follow-up efforts are not needed. 



One the most valuable resources we are able to provide to our communities, is the 911 Emergency phone system. It is hard to remember what it was like prior to the introduction of this dedicated line. In 2019 the Kewaunee County Dispatch Center received 2,735 calls for service through our 911 system. These calls included requests for response in matters such as rescue calls, suspicious activity, domestic altercations, fires and motor vehicle accidents. Looking at this list of incident descriptions, it is easy to see the diversity of resources which are then dispatched so as to respond effectively to each unique emergency.


Although I could spend a great deal of time and space writing about the positive outcomes and the men and women who make it all possible, I want to spend some time on a related nature of calls that we must respond to which also take up a great deal of our resources.


Since the advent of the original 911 systems decades ago, there have been calls which have come across those lines which were either accidental, where the caller realized their mistake and hung up or more concerning, calls which came in where the caller hung up because they were under threat and could not stay on the line. Both of these scenarios result in a category we call “911 hang-ups”.


As you can imagine, in either of these cases, we must ascertain the dynamics behind that hung up call as we cannot run the risk of assuming all hang ups were innocent in nature. While many were in fact a result of operator error, there have been those calls where only after following up d we determined that an assault, domestic or other violent situation was occurring.


Regardless of the dynamics behind the hang up, the process for follow up is time consuming and results in sending Officers to the given location. In the early years, this was not a big issue as these types of calls were very infrequent. In 2007 we responded to and handled 181 such calls. However in 2019 these calls totaled 906, and so far in 2020 we are at 684 which would result in a total number of 911 hang ups to reach over 1,300.


Many of these calls are avoidable by each of us being more attentive to our personal electronic devices, where a majority of these calls are originating from. Due to the sensitivity of touch screen technology along with the many technology applications which have become so popular with these devices, these false calls have become a concern.


The good news is that with a little attentiveness to your device and some helpful hints if you do in fact find yourself on the line with a Dispatcher asking “What is your emergency?” we can help reduce both the calls as well as the time associated with separating emergency calls from accidental calls.


In regards to your device, please make sure that before you slip it in your pocket or back in its case, you close out your screens and verify that none of your apps are operating in the background. If possible, store your device in a case versus your pocket as it will be better protected from misdials. Do not program 911 into your device as speed dials are a major source of 911 Hang ups. If you have recently dialed 911, please delete it from your recent call list. Please do not “Test” the 911 feature on your cell phone.


If you do find yourself on the line with one of our dispatchers due to an accidental dial, please stay on the line and provide the proper information to our Dispatcher so that we can close out the call and prevent the need to send officers to your location. If you have already hung up realizing your error, please answer when the Dispatcher calls you back. If you’re wondering how you will know it is Dispatch calling you back, the caller will show “388-4410”


We appreciate everyone’s attentiveness to this issue and I have no doubt we can decrease the number of these calls thus reducing the time and costs associated with them. Take Care & Stay Safe!


Liberty Grove looks at shoreline protection

Liberty Grove Town Chairperson John Lowry says approximately $40,000 will be needed to address a number of high water area concerns. The town board approved action to address shoreline protection for Mariners Park in Gills Rock and Wills Park in Ellison Bay, which is experiencing water-related damage similar to what has been found in other coastal communities in Door County. North Bay Road has also been flooded several times this year, and Lowry says something needs to be done to protect access to the residents’ homes.

Lowry says town administrator Bud Kalms is already looking at pricing for the rock needed for the shoreline protection efforts while the finance committee looks for ways to afford it as it expects a sharp drop in revenue this year due to the pandemic.

Planning for Kewaunee's future

Kewaunee Mayor Jason Jelinek hopes after years of waiting, the community can move forward on a number of different projects that have been in the works. The first-term mayor gave updates to the city’s community center and economic development opportunities during its most recent Committee of the Whole meeting. The community center is looking for a new location after it was determined keeping it in its current place above the Kewaunee Fire Station would be cost-prohibitive. Jelinek says people interested in building a new community center have targeted an area near Stump Pond as an option, but some other factors need to be considered including the site’s infrastructure.

He adds the city has gone out of its way to make sure developers know they are serious about redevelopment, especially when it comes to its revamped harbor and the site of the former Marquette school.


Photo courtesy of the city of Kewaunee

Election workers keep raise

Poll workers in the city of Sturgeon Bay could make more money for at least two additional elections. On the agenda for Tuesday’s Sturgeon Bay Common Council meeting is to keep paying election day workers $15.00 an hour, up from the $9.00 an hour that was previously paid. The raise was instituted prior to this spring’s election because of risks associated with COVID-19. If approved, poll workers could keep the new wage for the August 11th partisan primary and the November 3rd general election. The additional costs will be covered by federal CARES Act funding and future budgets. The Sturgeon Bay Common Council will also discuss the sale of approximately $4.37 million in general obligation promissory notes and share their thoughts on the masking ordinance when they meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m.


Photo from April 2020 Election

United Way endowments available to non-profit groups

Door County non-profit groups with innovative ideas to help meet community needs can find help through the United Way of Door County.  The organization is once again accepting applications for its $4800 endowment grant program.  Those funds can go to help groups meet basic needs such as child care, food and transportation, health care, or drug and alcohol abuse prevention. Executive Director Amy Kohnle says the funds are earmarked for new efforts that non-profits can use to aid Door County communities.




Applications for the United Way of Door County Endowment Grant program are available online here.

Groundwater study could surprise

The groundwater quality study being conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh across Door County could reveal significant changes from past evaluations. Professor Greg Kleinheinz says that the karst topography leads to shifting conditions on its own. Still, high water levels add more uncertainty to the mix, especially for wells near the shoreline.


The UW-Oshkosh study solicited participation from homeowners across the county last year, including sites from a broad geographic mix that includes northern Door County, which is most likely to be affected by the issues Kleinheinz raises.


Picture courtesy of UW Oshkosh.


Lions Club suggestions for a successful drive-thru Kermiss

This year's Kermiss at the Belgian Heritage Center in Brussels will be a drive-thru affair due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Brussels Lions Club says it can be as successful as an in-person event.  The Lions Club held the annual Belgian Days Celebration and sold food to people who placed their orders and picked them up without leaving their vehicles.  Jim Noll, the Lions Club treasurer, says this year's fundraiser was still well attended.  Although, he recommends other groups make sure they don't underestimate attendance when preparing food.



The Belgian Heritage Center Kermiss Drive-Thru is scheduled for August 16th starting from 11:30 AM until 2:00 PM.  Information on how to pre-pay for food orders can be found by logging on to the center's website.

Fewer flights mean less accurate forecasts

Planes flying into Cherryland Airport could soon provide more than just transportation. That’s already the case for commercial air travel. Meteorologist Richard Mamrosh with the National Weather Service in Green Bay, says they’re a treasure trove of information with nearly real-time data that can be plugged directly into forecast models.


The information is received by NWS within 15 minutes from when it is first measured. United Parcel Service was the first company to include data recorders on its flights to help make sure packages weren’t slowed in winter ice storms. Soon after, Federal Express added its own system and commercial carriers like United, Delta, and others followed suit. 


Wisconsin Farm Support Program offers new round of funding

Farmers in Door and Kewaunee counties hampered by losses due to COVID-19 can get more funding through a state program.  The Wisconsin Farm Support Program is offering a second round of aid through the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Department of Revenue.  The aid effort initially offered $50-million.  That provided 12,000 farmers with $3500 each.  There was still nearly $8.5-million remaining, which prompted round two.  Rich Olson, of Olson Family Farms near Sturgeon Bay, says such funding is welcome, though it can only go so far for some farmers.




Applications for Round Two of the Wisconsin Farm Support Program will be accepted from August 10-24 online here.

Mask order limits gym activities

Gyms and fitness centers stand to be impacted the most from Governor Evers’ order requiring masks to be worn indoors at public facilities. For the Door County YMCA, it means that many of the plans to return to a full slate of classes will have to be pushed back from September 1st to later in the year in favor of outdoor instruction instead. Executive Director Tom Beerntsen says strenuous cardio exercise also becomes impossible.


Beerntsen says locker rooms and the pool are still accessible, so there will be more functionality than when the Y first reopened in June. He urges members and the community to take advantage of Peterson Park.


Digital library set for an upgrade

Infosoup, a digital library serving branches in Door and Kewaunee Counties, will be getting an update for the first time in five years. The upgrade will take a couple of days to complete with the libraries expected to open up again on Monday, August 17th, after being unavailable that weekend. Door County Librarian Rebecca Buchmann says that reading lists and other account settings will not survive the transfer.


Buchmann says you should expect a more user-friendly interface that will conveniently resemble Google’s homepage, something that is familiar to most people. A link to a FAQ on the new catalog is available here.


Safe drinking water options a popular priority in Door County homes

The interest in enhancing drinking water safety remains strong in Door County homes.  That's reflected in the demand for the options to ensure drinking water is free from natural and man-made contaminants.  Nathan Haslam, Operations Manager for Culligan of Sturgeon Bay, says home-delivered water, without a contract, and proven filtration systems continue to see strong demand.


Haslam points out that drinking water concerns in Door County have long been raised because of shallow topsoil depths.  That can make well systems susceptible to groundwater contaminants.

Peninsula Preschool delays start of academic year

Friday afternoon, the Peninsula Preschool posted on Facebook that there would be a delay to the school year. A new start date has not been set, although Director Jill Harkaway hopes it comes soon. She says that parents aren’t comfortable with sending children to school yet.


The class size was already small, at just 18 students, which Harkaway suspects is related to the current health crisis. She says the primary fear is that a child picks up the disease at school and brings it home to elderly relatives such as grandparents. Harkaway expressed that school will most likely be off until Door County’s COVID activity is classified as low.


Photo courtesy of Peninsula Preschool website.


Rain best predictor of beach closures

Beach closures have been rare in 2020, but certain conditions make it more likely than others. Since Door County embraced beach monitoring with the help of a team of students from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, it has been learned that e.coli pollution comes from local sources. Egg Harbor and Ellison Bay have added natural cover to keep birds away as the bacteria is found in their droppings. Stormwater drains have had treatment facilities added to help purify their runoff, or their location shifted, so they discharge away from where recreation happens. Water Resources Management Special Advisor Madeline Magee says those efforts mean most closures only last 24 hours.


Magee says it is important to remember that swimming in natural bodies of water like Lake Michigan should be followed by a shower before beachgoers go about the rest of their day or have lunch. If you can’t shower, bring hand sanitizer with you.


Door County Public Health expanding contact tracing

With cases doubling over the past month, Public Health Director Sue Powers says Door County needs more manpower to conduct contact tracing and other efforts to keep COVID-19 contained. Powers is looking for a nurse who can empathize with those dealing with a potentially scary situation and stay on top of changing medical guidance. Powers says her current staff is working seven days a week, becoming overextended. Luckily, Door County is keeping up on reporting compared to elsewhere in the state.


The job posting can be found on the county's hiring page




Concert in the park series ends season early

The Village of Ephraim was one of the few communities in Door County to host concerts this summer, happening each Monday evening in the pavilion of Harborside Park. An already shortened season has been canceled, now scheduled to return in June of 2021. The subject was up for debate at the last Board of Trustees meeting, but it was private sponsors that called the rest of this year’s shows off, according to Administrator Brent Bristol.


If you are searching for entertainment, Sturgeon Bay has live music during its Under the Stars Night Market event each Saturday. The Village of Luxemburg and the City of Kewaunee also have weekly performances.


In-person services at NWTC available August 3rd

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College campuses including Sturgeon Bay will be open to in-person Student Services starting August 3rd.  That will include admissions staff, financial aid and academic advisors.  Those services will also be offered virtually.  Dr. Aliesha Crowe, Vice President of College Advancement, says this step is intended to help those students who are more comfortable working with staff face-to-face while also addressing public health concerns.




In-person Student Services at NWTC's Sturgeon Bay campus on 14th Avenue will be conducted at the main reception desk.  Those protocols will remain in place when classes resume August 15th.


(Northeast Wisconsin Technical College photographs)

Launching Your Kayak in Door County

With over 300 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of places to launch your kayak in Door County whether chasing smallmouth bass or just out for a fun time paddling on our beautiful Green Bay or Lake Michigan.  

I won’t have space to list all the launches, but this should get you started.  I suggest you do some exploring and take advantage of Google Maps.   One of the best and there are dozens of these up and down the peninsula, are roads that dead-end at the water.  The key to any of these launch points is making sure your vehicle is off the road when you park.  

Throughout the county, there are many public and private boat launches that if you are using a kayak trailer you can launch by just paying the fee.   I’ve used the launches in Ellison Bay and on both North Bay and Moonlight Bay.  For Sturgeon Bay, I’ve used the launch at Sunset Park, and on a couple of occasions with the kayak on my vehicle, I’ve launched off the beach.   Launching at beaches is a great place, but usually, best on weekdays or before the crowds show up on weekends.  Other good beaches to launch are Otumba Park, Murphy Park, and public beaches in most communities.  For the more secluded Rowleys Bay and Mink River, there’s a nice kayak launch next to the fishing pier.  And, as you’d expect both Potawatomi and Peninsula State Parks have kayak specific launches and plenty of parking.  

There are beautiful scenery and plenty of water birds to view when paddling from virtually any launch point in Door County.  You might even get lucky and spot an eagle soaring over the water or above the trees.   Three weeks ago, Becky and I had the thrill of hearing the haunting call and then seeing a pair of Loons on Lake Michigan just east of Sturgeon Bay.  For you smallmouth bass anglers, many of the launches I mentioned, and you will discover can put you onto some very good spots to catch and ideally release those smallies.  As you all know I love chasing smallies and the excitement level ratchets up when in your kayak.

It’s the perfect time of the year to get out in your kayak and enjoy Door County!  As always, if you have any kayak or kayak fishing questions email me at




Showcase of Homes goes virtual for 2020

The Door County Home Builders Association announced this week that the canceled in-person Showcase of Homes is going virtual.  The online video will allow participants to explore four featured Door County properties.  Executive officer Robyn Harper says the virtual tour will offer the next best thing to the in-person event and participants can even use VR goggles to enhance the experience.



The in-person 16th annual Showcase of Homes was originally scheduled for two weekends in May before being canceled due to COVID-19.  You can view the first-ever virtual Showcase of Homes with the link below.   


(photo courtesy of DCHBA)


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