News

One death; hospitalizations up in Kewaunee County report

It was a tough week in the fight against COVID-19 in Kewaunee County. There was one death and four hospitalizations in the weekly report that came from the county on Friday. The death total from COVID-19 in Kewaunee County since the start of the pandemic is now 38. Of the 226 tests administered to Kewaunee County residents, 76 were positive and 150 were negative. The active case total increased by 37 cases and is now at 105. In Kewaunee County, 46.6% of residents have at least one vaccine dose and 44.5% of residents are fully vaccinated. 

 

In Wisconsin’s COVID-19 report from Friday, the seven-day average of new confirmed cases is at 2746 and the seven-day average for confirmed deaths is 12. In Wisconsin, 56.5% of residents have at least one vaccine dose and 53.3% of residents have completed the series.

Fall colors driving traffic

Your fall travel plans in Door County depend a lot on the colors of the leaves. While not on par with the summer months of July and August, October is one of the top room-tax revenue-producing months according to the Door County Tourism Zone. Over $659,000 in room taxes were collected in 2019, making it the fifth-highest total for the whole year. Destination Door County Interim CEO Jon Jarosh says they have already received several calls on when they expect the peak fall color season to be this year. He tells them that it depends on where you go on the peninsula.

In anticipation for the fall, Jarosh says finding a room on the weekends could be tricky and weekdays are becoming more popular than ever. According to the Travel Wisconsin Fall Color Report, Door and Kewaunee counties are expected to be at their peak the second weekend of October. Some spots in northern Wisconsin are already at 30 to 60 percent peak fall colors.

Petito case puts new attention on missing person cases

Narrowing the focus is key to helping find your loved ones if they happen to go missing. National media have turned the spotlight on missing person reports in the wake of the Gabby Petito case developing in Wyoming. Petito’s body was found in Teton National Forest earlier this week and now a manhunt is on for her fiancé who is alleged to have murdered her. The NamUs.gov Missing Persons database has 181 people where their last known location was in Wisconsin. Door and Kewaunee counties each have one entry listed, but Carol Jean Pierce of Sturgeon Bay is at the center of a cold case murder trial set to begin next year while William John King was presumed to have drowned during a fishing accident in Algoma. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says how important it is to establish the details that could help find their whereabouts.

He reminds people to tell people where they are going and who they will be with just in case something bad arises. The FBI reports that over 540,000 people went missing in 2020, including approximately 340,000 kids.


Beardsley fills vacant supervisor seat

After almost three months of waiting, Door County’s Ninth District has its supervisor. The Door County Board approved Rodney Beardsley to fill the role after being nominated by Chairperson Dave Lienau. He is a newcomer to public service after moving from Colorado six years ago for a role at Hatco as its product reliability manager.  In addition to his role on the county board representing portions of the City of Sturgeon Bay, Beardsley has been appointed to five different committees.  He replaces Laura Vlies Wotachek after she resigned from the role in June.

Sturgeon Bay prepping for budget discussions; welcoming input

When dealing with an eight-figure budget, the city of Sturgeon Bay Mayor David Ward encourages you to give your thoughts. As the city is getting ready to discuss and adopt a 2022 budget, Mayor Ward points out that it’s typically a $15-17 million dollar budget and the public has chances to say their piece on it. 

 

 

City Administrator Josh VanLieshout noted that the process of crafting the 2022 budget is in full swing but still a work in progress. He added that it will remain a work in progress until the final budget is adopted. On Monday, September 27th, the council will have its first discussion on the 2022 budget to talk over budget principles and what’s in it, before discussing it further at future council meetings.

Thinking of local wildlife when you shine your light

You may not think much of leaving a light or two on around your property at night, but with bird migration in full swing on the peninsula, it may be time to switch up some habits. This time of year, you’re advised to turn off non-essential lights around you by 11:00 PM, according to birdcast.info. Lights often attract and disorient, confuse, or exhaust birds, leading them vulnerable to collisions with buildings or other harmful threats that may exist in towns like cats. 

 

Door County and Kewaunee County are expected to see high-intensity bird migration over the weekend and are in a high lights out alert as a result. Program Director at Crossroads of Big Creek Coggin Heeringa says one way to reduce harm to birds and other species is pointing your artificial lights downward. 

 

 

Heeringa notes that while people may want lights outside their house for protection, a light with less environmental impact but equal effectiveness is a motion sensor light. She also explains how artificial light can be harmful to pollinators and insects. 

 

 

If you do need to use artificial light, it’s suggested that you use a yellow LED light. You can view the bird migration and lights out alert forecasts here.


Underly calls for support and protection in schools

Wisconsin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly says it’s time for us to come together and not be divided in order to keep our schools open. Underly offered the 2021 State of Education Address on Thursday, and said that strong schools are essential to a strong society. Underly touched on contentious issues that have garnered varied reactions in Door County, particularly masks. In an August 26th poll on DoorCountyDailyNews.com, 336 voters said they believe students should wear masks in school until the spread of the Delta variant is slowed down. 159 voters said students should not be required to mask up. Underly advocated for mask use, for the time being, saying that in her and Governor Tony Evers elementary school visits in the state, students seemed unbothered by them. She added that adults need to follow the lead of students, who’ve focused on their shared desire to be with their friends, learn, and protect each other. 

 

Before outlining her and Governor Evers’s aspirations for Wisconsin education, she made a call for people across the state and political spectrum to stop abuse directed at educators. She noted that it is the students who suffer the most from it. Underly shared the goal of having Wisconsin reach education funding levels that they had over a decade ago before the Great Recession. 

 

 

Underly made a call to address what she sees as education needs like increased funding in special education, fully funded preschool for four-year-old children, access to mental health support, robust nursing, and a stronger civics curriculum.  

Cases come down; Public Health makes important distinction

In Thursday’s COVID-19 report from the Wisconsin Department of Public Health, cases were slightly down while deaths went up by one. The 7-day average for new confirmed cases is 2807, which is a 50-case decrease from Wednesday and new reported deaths are at 13, which is an increase of one. Door County and Kewaunee County are two of the 62 counties in the state that are at the very high disease activity level. Eight counties, including nearby Oconto County, are at the critically high level.

 

Wisconsin’s vaccine numbers continue to inch upward, as 56.4% of residents have at least one dose and 53.2% are fully vaccinated. Door County Public Health issued clarification between the difference between an additional vaccine dose and a booster vaccine dose. An additional dose is for those who may have not received adequate protection from their initial vaccine series, which is mainly those with a weakened immune system. A booster dose is a supplemental vaccine dose given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have decreased over time. The full explanation from Public Health can be found below. 

 

Apple issues stump orchard owners

Your guess is as good as the orchard owners themselves when it comes to some issues seen with this year’s apple crop. Wood Orchard owner Steve Wood has been trying to figure out why some of his honey crisp trees have had good years while others hardly produced any fruit this season. The cortlands and macintosh apples in his fields he believes are smaller than in years’ past. Wood has been producing apples long enough to know that other orchard owners in the state are seeing similar things and that every year is different. He thinks some of the early season weather may be the reason why the apple crop is good but not as great as it could be.

The dry months of May and June may have also contributed to some of the apples not reaching their full potential. Wood believes that no matter what kind of apple you are looking for that you will not have to try too hard to find it.


Sturgeon Bay Police warn of bank scam

A scammer may be trying to get into your bank account and the Sturgeon Bay Police Department is making sure you see the red flags. The department has received two separate reports of fraud involving a person posing as an employee trying to switch banking information. Through email, the scammer is trying to move a payroll direct deposit to a different account that belongs to a fake employee. The Sturgeon Bay Police Department says the recent cases involve Green Dot Bank, which is an online bank with no physical locations. The incidents serve as an important reminder to never provide banking information or personal information over the phone or email of someone you do not know.  Making sure the institution is on the FCA Register of regulated companies is also a good sign of whether the company is legitimate or not. Like other cases of fraud, you should also report the attempt to local law enforcement so it can be investigated.  

 

Photo courtesy of Sturgeon Bay Police Department

Habitat, housing partnership names first partner family

Your curiosity on who the county’s newest partner family is was finally answered Thursday morning in Sturgeon Bay. Door County Habitat for Humanity and the Door County Housing Partnership Trust announced Melissa Krueger and her children will be the owner of one of the two homes being built by the organizations. It is the first time Door County Habitat for Humanity and the Door County Housing Partnership Trust have collaborated on an affordable home for a local resident. It was a long wait for Megan Dietz and Lori Allen of Door County Habitat for Humanity, who usually have the partner family announced before the foundation is often poured. Allen says it has been worth the wait.

Jim Honig from the Door County Housing Partnership says the home will be able to remain affordable for homeowners for years to come.

Both Door County Habitat for Humanity and the Door County Housing Partnership Trust is donor-supported, but you can also help out with the home build at the site on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

 

 

Extinguisher saves Gibraltar hotel room

A fire inside a vacant hotel room in the Town of Gibraltar earlier this week is giving you more of a reason to keep an extinguisher nearby in your home or business.

 

Gibraltar Fire and Rescue shared the details of a Tuesday evening fire on Wednesday after having to cut their monthly Mid-Door training session short. An employee at the Cedar Court Inn discovered the fire in the single, unoccupied room and began using an extinguisher to battle the flames until firefighters could arrive at the scene before 6:30 p.m.  Thanks to the hotel employee’s efforts, an additional fire extinguisher and a little bit of water were all that was needed to finish the job.

 

Gibraltar Fire Chief Andy Bertges credits the quick action of the employee for helping save the structure. He added it was the second time this month where an extinguisher was used to suppress a fire until crews could arrive.

 

The Baileys Harbor, Ephraim, and Egg Harbor Fire Departments along with the Door County Emergency Services, Door County Sheriff’s Department, and Wisconsin Public Service also responded to the call.

 

Photo courtesy of Gibraltar Fire and Rescue

 

 


Critical Race Theory a non-issue for local schools

You will not find much discussion about critical race theory at local school districts even as Assembly Republicans took aim at the topic on Wednesday. An Assembly Republican-led committee passed a bill along party linesprohibiting public schools from teaching students and training employees topics considered to be anti-racism and anti-sexism. Critical Race Theory was argued at school board meetings across the state ahead of the new academic year with parents demanding access to teaching materials.  Opponents to the measure say it takes the decision-making away from local school districts and oversimplifies the topic. NAACP Dane County Branch President Greg Jones thinks Critical Race Theory should not be taught in K-12 classrooms but he told DoorCountyDailyNews.com in August that Black history could be taught better. Southern Door, Sevastopol, Kewaunee, and Luxemburg-Casco School Districts have received inquiries on whether they were teaching it to their students. Southern Door School District Superintendent Chris Peterson says it is not being taught and it is not in their plans either.

Luxemburg-Casco and Sevastopol echoed those sentiments, saying the board has no interest in entertaining its introduction into the classroom. Kewaunee Principal Mike Bennett says the topic has not been brought up at a school board meeting, but he says he has had discussions with people about it, but that is as far as it went.

Feldt gives sneak peek at county budget

You could potentially find something that has not been seen in the Kewaunee County budget in the last 10 years when it is formally discussed next month. Kewaunee County Administrator Scott Feldt distributed the proposed 2022 budget to board members during Tuesday’s meeting. The tax levy currently sits at $12.8 million while the total expenditures stand at $24.8 million. Taxpayers will see a rate of 6.88 percent, which is the first time it has been below seven percent in a decade and a decrease of 6.9 percent. More details will be discussed at upcoming committee meetings and the budget hearing on October 19th, but Feldt touted other highlights during his administrator’s report.

In other Kewaunee County Board business, members will have to be present in order to vote on agenda items. The board may discuss at a future time an alternative plan for unforeseen circumstances like another pandemic where they would have to conduct the county’s business but are not allowed to meet in person. The board also recognized Chuck Wagner and his 22 years of service as a district supervisor.

 

 

Door County sees 50-plus new tests in two days

Door County’s COVID-19 Situation Report put a damper on otherwise positive news from Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Out of 138 tests performed since Monday, 52 came back positive. The county also reported five new hospitalizations. In the state, the number of positive COVID-19  tests dropped to 2,857, a drop of over 100 from the day before. The average number of deaths stayed steady at 12. Door County’s vaccination rate still hovers above 70 percent with the public health department offering vaccine clinics on September 23rd in Sister Bay and every Wednesday at its offices in Sturgeon Bay.

DCEDC holds 32nd luncheon; local businesses win awards

Representatives from Door County businesses you’ve come to love made their way to the 32nd Door County Economic Development Corporation Investor’s Meeting Luncheon. After not having the luncheon in 2020 due to the pandemic, the DCEDC and their Board of Directors welcomed back guests to celebrate Door County’s business developments and perseverance. DCEDC’s executive director, Steve Jenkins, discussed their accomplishments and the help they could give Door County businesses since March of 2020.  

 

 

Jenkins also showed pride in the DCEDC’s special revolving loan fund worth over $500,000 to provide businesses low-interest loans. To date, $290,250 has been awarded to businesses from the fund. The event’s keynote speaker was Director of Corporate Communications, Leadership Development, and Training for Kwik Trip, Jon McHugh. He presented on the need for purpose and compassion in the workplace and with customers. Though he was unable to offer any official updates on the speculation of two Kwik Trips coming to Sturgeon Bay, he did tease the thought, ending his message by saying, “see you in 2022.”
 

Three businesses and their administrators were awarded at the luncheon. The Lighthouse Award, which goes to the established business of the year went to the Washington Island Ferry Line and was accepted by Hoyt Purinton. The Range Lights Award was given to Door Community Child Development Center and accepted by Alexis Fuller. The Lightkeeper Award, which is given to the Women and Minority-Owned Business of the Year, was won by Spot and Space and accepted by Jennie Bexell. 

Scholarships make way for more YMCA members

The YMCA is pushing their membership renewal to all members, especially if you receive a scholarship to financially assist you or your family’s membership. If you are a recipient, you’re urged to reapply by the end of September. This is so the Door County YMCA can assess any occupational and income changes and then offer you a new rate. The scholarships are awarded to those successfully enrolled in the YMCA’s Membership For All program, which is a sliding scale fee to help families regardless of income. Because of the program, Director of Financial Development, Membership, and Marketing Tonya Felhofer says you shouldn’t let the YMCA price tag you’ll see on their pamphlets scare you away. 

 

 

The YMCA’s annual campaign fund, which typically raises over $500,000, is a big help to membership assistance. Felhofer says the YMCA is also encouraging you to renew your membership by the end of the month if you use the Northern Door facility in Fish Creek. 

Is labor shortage a fair term?

The labor shortage being experienced in communities such as Door County this summer may not be as simple as you think. According to the latest Department of Workforce Development’s jobs report, which doesn’t adjust for seasonal employment, Door County had a 4.4% unemployment rate and Kewaunee County’s was 3%. Opportunity Wisconsin’s program director, Meghan Roh says she doesn’t think the term “labor shortage” covers the nuance of the situation. Roh also disputes the thoughts that enhanced unemployment benefits were the driver in some employees not returning to work and that ending them doesn’t guarantee a surge in employment. Roh adds there are systemic reasons you may have to choose between the workforce and staying at home that we have the opportunity to address. 

 

 

Roh also notes that having to make the decision between affordable and unaffordable health insurance can also be a workforce deterrent, which she hopes is addressed in Congress. Door County’s unemployment rate was at its 2021 peak in February, when it was at 7.5%. Roh says that in recent data they are seeing disputes that ending unemployment benefits helped states that did it months ago. She looks forward to seeing the long-term data now that the benefits have ended nationally. 

Sturgeon Bay bumps up snow removal, lawn mowing fees

You may want to think twice the next time you call for the city of Sturgeon Bay to remove snow or mow your lawn. In the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, a resolution was passed increasing the fees by $15. City Administrator Josh VanLieshout said each year they try to revisit the fees for city services to make sure they are covering the actual cost of providing the services. VanLieshout added that the city is trying to get out of snow removal and lawn mowing for private owners, as those can detract from other necessary services. 

 

 

He said he finds it reasonable to increase those rates by $15 across the board. The new price for snow removal will be $125 plus tax initially and then raised by $25 with each subsequent occurrence. The lawn mowing fee will be $250 plus tax initially before the price goes up to $25 with each additional occurrence. The park shelter rental price also increased for residents and non-residents, and that price varies based on the size of each crowd. 

 

Public Works Director Mike Barker explains that the lawn mowing presents more issues than the snow removal, and the subsequent $25 fee isn’t because the city is trying to make a profit. 

 

 

Alderperson Spencer Gustafson shared concern for some residents who may have limitations in their ability to mow or remove snow and also paying for the services. Mayor David Ward says they’ve often been observant of hardship cases and that’s something they’ll try to continue doing.

Several second readings approved at Common Council meeting

You’ll start seeing words put into action by the city of Sturgeon Bay in the near future. At the Sturgeon Bay Common Council meeting on Tuesday, finishing touches were put on a few different projects or code changes that had been in the works for several weeks or months. The city put discussions on the 53-unit Breakwater Residences to bed for the time being, as the Planned Unit Development was approved, giving an official go ahead to the housing project. Common council also approved an amendment to the provisions for their room tax ordinance, increasing the tax from 5.5 percent to 8 percent. 

 

The council also approved the second reading of an ordinance that will allow lawful property owners or occupants to prohibit use of bicycles, play vehicles, and in-line skates on their property. Ackerman Street will also be vacated after the council approved the resolution to discontinue it. A public hearing on Ackerman Street was offered but there were no speakers. The city will also charge more for lawn mowing and snow removal, as the council adopted a resolution to increase the fees for the city to do those tasks on your property. 

Can Door County childcare options build back better?

You may soon see help on the way for Door County families in search of child care. The absence of affordable childcare options has been well documented in Door County and Family Friendly Wisconsin State Director Brita Olsen says the concerns are echoed across the state. Olsen believes there’s hope to ease the local childcare shortage through proposals in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. 

 

 

The scarce child care scene in the area was noted as a catalyst in the local unemployment rate to DoorCountyDailyNews.com last month by Lakeshore Cap’s Colleen Homb. Olsen compliments the agenda on being designed to help working families. Proposals surrounding childcare in President Biden’s agenda include publicly supported universal preschool for three and four-year-olds, ensuring that no middle class family pays more than seven percent of their income in child care, and an extension of the monthly child tax credit. According to whitehouse.gov, 56 percent of children under the age of six do not have good childcare options and that through the agenda middle-class families would save an average of $14,800 per year.

COVID-19 cases jump up from Monday

In Wisconsin’s COVID-19 report on Tuesday, the seven-day average for cases and deaths made an increase from Monday. The seven-day average for cases on Tuesday was 2967 and for deaths, it was 12, which is one more than Monday. In Wisconsin, 56.3% of residents have at least one vaccine dose and 53% are fully vaccinated. 

 

Both Door County and Kewaunee County’s public health departments are making sure to let you know about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and urging you to get yours. Kewaunee County Public Health held a vaccine clinic on Tuesday but also encourages you to give their office a call to schedule an appointment if you haven’t got yours yet. 

 

Door County Public Health recently shared statistics about the vaccine’s ability to fight the predominant Delta variant. One point said that the age-adjusted rate of COVID-19 hospitalization among not fully vaccinated people is nine times higher than the rate among fully vaccinated people. Another point said that the vaccines are still highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death from the Delta variant.

Kewaunee County well prepared for nuclear plant emergency

In the event of an emergency at the Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Two Rivers, you can be assured that Kewaunee County Emergency Management is as prepared as you can be. Kewaunee County passed its portion of a biennial Plume Pathway Emergency Response Excercise, which was evaluated by FEMA, and focused on the ability to protect the health and safety of the public potentially in danger in the plant’s 10-mile radius. Kewaunee County Emergency Management Director Tracy Nollenberg explains that you don’t need to reside in a ten-mile radius to be affected by an emergency at the plant, and their preparedness is a benefit to all in Kewaunee County. 

 

 

FEMA’s preliminary results showed that Kewaunee County had no planning issues detected. The exercise also tested the county’s internal and external communications, evacuation protocols and routes and traffic impediments that could impact evacuation. In an emergency evacuation, the Kewaunee County reception center is the Luxemburg-Casco Intermediate School, in which evacuees would get monitored for radiological contamination and to gain further assistance. The final FEMA report is expected to be available within ninety days. 

 

(Photo from nexteraenergyresources.com)

Senator Jacque discharged from hospital; still in recovery

After a stay in a local hospital due to COVID-19 that lasted over a month, State Senator Andre Jacque has been released. In mid-August, Jacque was placed on a ventilator and according to a statement from Jacque’s office, he has a ways to go as he continues respiratory and occupational therapy but is breathing well and making substantial progress toward regaining his health. 

 

Jacque has not confirmed whether or not he had been vaccinated for COVID-19, but after his hospitalization, his wife Renee made a plea encouraging others to get vaccinated. Jacque’s illness was part of a family outbreak, in which five of their eight family members tested positive for the virus. 

Playwright offers hope through grief

Rogue Theater’s production of “The Loss World Monologues” may be a source of light during a period of grief. Playwright Mary London Szpara wrote the book “The Loss World” after her husband Michael died in 2004 after a long battle with hepatitis C and its side effects. Years later, she adapted the book into a play showcasing a diverse group of women on their own journey of emotional healing. Szpara says it was important for her to capture her thoughts while grieving.

Szpara grew up in Kewaunee County and made Door County a vacation destination her entire life. Door County was one of the last places she and her husband visited before his passing. Szpara says having her play performed in Door County is almost like her story coming full circle.

The show runs from September 24th through September 26th in the upstairs room at Door County Fire Company in Sturgeon Bay with a portion of the proceeds benefiting HELP of Door County.

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