Active COVID cases continue to slide

Door County saw another reduction in active COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. 


Eight positive tests were announced by the Door County Public Health, but that was also paired with another 12 recoveries. The number of active cases now stands at 233 in Door County. While Kewaunee County did not update its totals, Wisconsin reported another 1,328 positive COVID-19 tests on Wednesday along with 34 deaths and 93 hospitalizations.


Earlier this week, the state added teachers, child-care workers, and some public-facing essential workers like grocery store employees to its last phase of the 1B group currently being vaccinated. Those individuals will have to wait until at least March 1st however to receive their first dose.

Watershed group's efforts paying off

The adoption of new practices by members of Peninsula Pride Farms is having a positive impact on the land in Kewaunee and southern Door counties according to new data released Wednesday. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection used special nutrient management planning software to calculate the potential annual phosphorus loss and soil erosion on fields where cover crops and reduced tilling practices are being used. Depending on the type of operation, farms using these practices saw a phosphorus loss reduction of between 420 to 1,347 pounds and a soil erosion reduction of 326 and 958 tons. Reducing both could have a positive impact on the area’s soil health and water quality over time. Peninsula Pride Farms President Don Niles said they are ecstatic about the progress that has been made since the producer-led watershed group was formed five years ago. He also understands the importance of showing the community their report card of how their new practices are working.

The Nature Conservancy helped fund the efforts of Peninsula Pride Farms to recruit new members so more of the conservation practices can be implemented across the region with a $10,000 grant. It is part of their goal to reduce nutrient runoff from cropland into waterways by 20 percent over the next five years. Agricultural Strategies Director Steve Richter said the analysis shows the practices are working but more can still be done.

Much of the reductions in phosphorus loss and soil erosion can be attributed to an increase in conservation tillage practices and cover crops. Conservation Specialist Dana Christel says Peninsula Pride Farms members have more than doubled the acreage using cover crops and conservation tillage practices since the group formed in 2016.


DATCP Conservation Specialist Dana Christel explains the data

Explanation of analysis from Peninsula Pride Farms

The analysis was completed as part of a conservation benefits tracking project initiated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to evaluate impacts of the state’s Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants Program. The initiative was developed in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Soil Science and The Nature Conservancy. Wisconsin’s SnapPlus nutrient management planning software was used to calculate the potential annual phosphorus loss and soil erosion on fields when farms include practices such as cover crops and reduced tillage.


While not every conservation practice provided significant reductions for each scenario, below are examples of the amount of phosphorus loss and soil erosion that can be avoided with the adoption of practices on agricultural landscapes in southern Door and Kewaunee counties. Acreages of practices are based on the average number of acres implemented on PPF member farms in 2019.


It is important to note that the calculations below are based on comparisons of generalized systems, not actual farms, and do not take into account the other watershed variables that impact how sediment and phosphorus make their way into a stream or lake. 


For comparison, a mid-size dump truck can carry 10 tons of sediment, and 1 pound of phosphorus in a waterway has the potential to cause the growth of up to 500 pounds of algae.


Dairy farm with a corn silage and alfalfa rotation adopting 362 acres of small grain cover crops following corn silage

Phosphorus loss reduction: 420 pounds

Soil erosion reduction: 326 tons


Corn, soybean and winter wheat operation adopting 708 acres of strip-tillage

Phosphorus loss reduction: 1,083 pounds

Soil erosion reduction: 885 tons


Continuous corn operation adopting 327 acres of no-tillage

Phosphorus loss reduction: 1,347 pounds

Soil erosion reduction: 958 tons

Pellet stove starts small Sturgeon Bay Fire

A fitting attached to a pellet stove is to blame for an early Wednesday morning fire on Sturgeon Bay's East Side.


According to a report from Sturgeon Bay Fire Chief Tim Dietman, firefighters reported to the home on Alabama Street after 2 a.m. after the homeowner requested firefighters to check out her pellet stove. The homeowner had already put out the fire by the time crews arrived, but a hazy smoke still remained in the basement and on the first and second floors. Firefighters discovered a 90-degree fitting had failed and opened enough to transfer adequate heat to ignite the subflooring, burn through the joint cavity, and also start a small area of carpeting on fire. The homeowner told the crews she was able to put the fire out by pouring a bucket of water through the opening to extinguish the flames.


The scene was cleared just after 3 a.m.  


Kewaunee County Board to revisit jail project vote

Although a majority of the Kewaunee County Board Wednesday evening voted to approve Phase 3 of the new jail project, the action will not stand.  The supervisors approved the resolution by an 11-8 margin. Still, Board Chair Dan Olson says he was informed by Corporate Counsel Jeffrey Wisnicky Wednesday morning that a two-thirds vote was needed to pass the resolution since it would impact the current budget.



Olson says the matter will now have to be placed on the board's agenda for next month for another vote.  The resolution called for approval of contracting with Venture Architects to proceed on the next phase of the Public Safety Planning and Design project with estimated costs of $179,000, funded from the General Fund.  The entire project would be for a new jail, 9-1-1 center, and a shared lobby that is projected to cost $21 million after being scaled down. 


(photo of Kewaunee County Board meeting on Youtube video channel)

Kewaunee HS socially distancing in the Second Semester

Kewaunee High school Principal Michael Bennet is concerned about social distancing with the new schedule in effect. His concern stems from the fact that lunch is a time where many students will be gathered into one area. With about 125 students in each lunch period, Bennet has found a way to make sure that COID-19 guidelines are still being followed.



 This schedule was successfully tested the final week of the semester, and the social distancing guidelines followed. With this way of keeping students distanced, Bennet hopes to keep the high school students safe and in school.

Local Museum of Civilization exhibit opening Friday

The Miller Art Museum is opening a pop-up exhibit this weekend in conjunction with the Door County Library’s Big Read program. Local artists were invited to interpret the novel "Station 11" through visual arts. Miller Art Museum Curator Helen Del Guidice says that Emily St. John Mandel's utopian novel is a post-apocalyptic atmosphere where survivors created a museum of civilization with everyday objects. She says the five artworks on display are in the Gerhard Miller Room.



A virtual Museum of Civilization will be developed by the community in the next few weeks. The exhibit officially opens on Friday and will remain on display until February 15. The Miller Art Museum is located within the Sturgeon Bay Library on South Fourth Avenue. The museum is currently open to the public by appointment only Monday through Saturday. You can call to arrange your private viewing of the exhibits on display. 



Reported burglary in West Kewaunee Township

The Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department is looking for help on any information on a reported burglary in the West Kewaunee Township on Tuesday. The suspect entered an open garage and stole Milwaukee brand tools and some chainsaws. Sheriff Matt Joski requests that anyone with any information on suspicious activity, including unfamiliar vehicles or persons in the West Kewaunee area near Highway 29, contact the Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department. 

Door County coronavirus recoveries continue upswing

Door County continued an encouraging sign of more recoveries and a lower positivity rate for COVID-19 on Tuesday.  Only three new coronavirus cases were reported with 24 recoveries noted.  The number of active cases decreased by 20 to 236 and there were no new hospitalizations or deaths recorded.  The small sampling of 27 tests performed showed a positivity rate of just over 11 percent and one “probable” case.


Kewaunee County Public Health’s next COVID-19 update will be on Thursday as staff focuses on the rollout of vaccines being distributed this week.


The Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed 1,301 coronavirus cases on Tuesday.  Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the state went up by 135 and 54 deaths were reported.


Door County Coffee & Tea Company issues allergy alert recall

Two lots of French Vanilla Flavored Cappuccino Single Serve Cups distributed by Door County Coffee & Tea are being recalled by the Sturgeon Bay manufacturer. According to an FDA posting this last week, the company recalled the 5.1-ounce packages that may contain undeclared Milk and Soy. No illnesses have been reported to date of anyone who has consumed this product and may have risked suffering a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. The recalled French Vanilla Flavored Cappuccino Single Serve Cups were distributed in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, and Florida at retail outlets.  President of Door County Coffee Vicki Wilson says the recall was self-reported to the FDA after discovering that the product contained Milk and Soy without revealing the presence of the allergen on the packaging which was caused by a printing omission.



The company’s statement urges consumers to discard the product and contact Door Coffee & Tea Company for a refund or placement. You can find the lot codes and contact information below.






The product was sold starting on October 7 last year with lot code 1C092220-2 that expires 9/22/2022 and 1C120220-A  that expires 12/2/2022.



Vicki Wison's complete explanation of the recall is below.



Kewaunee Fire Chief Hlinak retiring after 44 years

The Kewaunee Fire Department looking to replace 77 years of experience and leadership in the coming months.  Fire Chief Greg Hlinak and Assistant Fire Chief Paul Nimmer will be retiring in the next two months.  After 44 years with the city, Hlinak will be retiring on April 1st, the anniversary date of his hiring by the Kewaunee Police Department.  He says it was a difficult decision, but one that he and Nimmer have been discussing for some time.



Nimmer served for 33 years and will be officially retiring next month.  Hlinak moved up the ranks in the department as a training officer and fire inspector before becoming fire chief.   He says he will miss many parts of the job, but not the technology.  Staying in Kewaunee after retirement, Hlinak shares his future plans.



Hlinak was honored as the state’s Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year in 2016, after being nominated by Nimmer.  Kewaunee City Council will now look to the Police and Fire Commission to appoint a new fire chief to start in April. 


(photo of Fire Chief Hlinak taken at 2016 event)

Rogue Theater to host virtual auditions

Sturgeon Bay’s Rogue Theater is adding a different twist to Zoom meetings on Saturday when it hosts its auditions for the upcoming season virtually. Right now the theater company is planning on doing at least one unique show a month for two-week runs. It is looking for men, women, and teenagers to fill the roles for those productions. Actors will get the scripts emailed to them ahead of time so they can prepare before going on the Zoom call to audition. Rogue Theater Managing Director Stuart Champeau says hosting the auditions virtually is allowing them to see performers they may never had a chance to audition otherwise.

You can contact Rogue Theater to set up your virtual audition. Rogue Theater recently announced it would be building its own venue in December for a hopeful opening in May.

Town chairperson hopes to return to in-person meetings

Liberty Grove Town Chairperson John Lowry hopes its board will be able to conduct its business in person as soon as it is safe. The town recently approved a resolution to extend its allowance of supervisors and committee members to appear via telephone or other electronic devices if they are not able to appear in person. In-person or not, the appearance does count towards the minimum quorum requirement. It has been especially important during the pandemic as most of the meetings have either had limited in-person attendance or 100 percent virtual. Lowry says it is not a perfect system, especially considering the Internet issues the area has and the impact it has on participation.

Depending on the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, Lowry hopes in-person meetings could return in the late summer to early fall.

Egg Harbor firefighters to reorganize

The Egg Harbor Fire Department will have to reorganize as a non-profit organization if it wants to continue fundraising to help pay for their operations.


Attorney Randy Nesbitt notified Egg Harbor Fire Chief Andy Staats on Monday that the Egg Harbor Firefighters, Inc. had its corporation administratively dissolved by the State of Wisconsin back on May 29th, 2017. Under state law and its by-laws, the Egg Harbor Firefighters, Inc. had to wind up its affairs and transfer its remaining funds to the Town of Egg Harbor. Those funds can still be used for fire department operations. That action took place on January 12th. In his letter to Staats, Nesbitt recommended the department establish a new non-stock, non-profit corporation so they could continue their fundraising efforts to help pay for their operations. Voting members would consist of only active firefighters and EMS personnel with the Egg Harbor Fire Department with the funds maintained by the Town of Egg Harbor. 


In a press release, Staats thanked everyone who has supported the department through the Egg Harbor Firefighter’s Association over the past years. He also said the officers of the fire department have agreed to pursue the necessary steps with the state to become a non-profit organization. You can read the letter from Nestbitt and Staats’ statement below.



Vacation home renters question "six-night stay minimum" ordinance

Some people who rent out homes for short-term stays in the Town of Sevastopol are concerned about a proposed ordinance heading to the Town Board next month.  The Sevastopol Plan Commission approved a draft of a Short-Term Rental of Residential Dwelling Ordinance last Thursday.  Matthew Horton of Sister Bay, who owns four vacation rentals in Baileys Harbor, questions why the ordinance would require rentals for six consecutive nights or more. He believes that would impact where many visitors would choose to vacation in the future.



Horton adds that the six-night minimum would kill many of the vacation rental industry in Door County that provides secondary income for many people and ultimately impact real estate values.




The current draft of the ordinance classifies "short-term rental" as any stay of fewer than 29 days.  Any property owner or resident agent who manages a Short-term Rental for more than ten nights each year would be required to be abiding by the ordinance.  The Town of Sevastopol will review the Short-Term Rental of Residential Dwelling Ordinance draft at its next meeting on February 15.   

Area recoveries up for COVID-19 cases

Door County saw recoveries outnumber positive cases of COVID-19 since Friday. On Monday, Door County Public Health reported 11 new coronavirus cases with 37 recoveries noted.  Active cases decreased by 21 to 259, which is the lowest in several weeks.  No additional hospitalizations or deaths were reported in Door County.


Kewaunee County Public Health disclosed 20 more COVID-19 cases on Monday with 24 new recoveries.  Exactly 2300 people reportedly have now recovered from coronavirus in Kewaunee County since the beginning of the pandemic.  The number of active cases in Kewaunee County went down by four to 86.   The hospitalizations in Kewaunee County decreased by two, with two people remaining hospitalized and no recent deaths reported.  Due to this week’s vaccine rollout, Kewaunee County Public Health’s next COVID-19 update will be this Thursday.  


Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed less than 1,000 coronavirus cases on Monday, reportedly the lowest daily count in over four months.   Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the state went up by 56, and eight deaths were recorded.



Door County receives about 30 percent of requested vaccine

The Door County Public Health Department received less than half of the COVID-19 vaccines than they had requested for this week.   Joe Krebsbach, Health and Human Services Director, says the county was disappointed to find out that they were getting only 120 of the 300 requested Pfizer vaccines. He shares the reason behind the shortfall in vaccines that will be delivered this week from the state’s greater rollout.



The vaccine drive-thru clinics are scheduled for this Thursday and Friday. Since Door County scheduled vaccinations this week based on the requested amount, individuals with scheduled appointments that need to be canceled will receive an e-mail and be placed on a waiting list. Monday was the first day that people 65 years of age and older were eligible in the state to receive the vaccine. You can read the complete news release here.

Door County Short Film Festival goes virtual

You’ll have the opportunity to watch more movies over a longer period of time during this year’s Door County Short Film Festival.


Like many other events, the Door County Short Film Festival has opted to go virtual with its offerings due to the pandemic. As a result, the 12th edition of the event will take place over the course of 10 days and offer access to four feature films created in the state, as well as 30 short films produced from around the world. While it certainly will not be the same experience, Louise Howson from the Sister Bay Advancement Association is excited about what the virtual option will allow film lovers to enjoy.

You can buy tickets online for the Door County Short Film Festival, which runs from February 12th-21st.


Picture courtesy of the Sister Bay Advancement Association of the 2021 Juried Golden Mug Award will be presented to the film that a four-person jury selects as the “best of the Fest,” while the 2021 People’s Choice Mug Award will be presented to the film that receives the most votes from attendees. 

Ephraim puts PRAT on April ballot

Ephraim residents will decide on April 6th if an additional 0.5 percent sales tax should be placed on tourism-related purchases within the village. The Village Board approved the decision to put the Premier Resort Area Tax on the ballot as a referendum question as a way to raise the necessary funding to address the community’s infrastructure needs. Administrator Brent Bristol said back in October that nailing down the details of the village’s ten-year plan sped up the conversations to potentially add the PRAT.



If approved by voters, Ephraim would become the second Door County community to enact the PRAT, following Sister Bay’s lead in 2018. The two communities got a special exemption from the state to allow the PRAT, which is typically reserved for communities like Wisconsin Dells and Rhinelander, where tourism-related businesses account for at least 40 percent of the equalized assessed property values.

Sturgeon Bay Historical Society Executive Director named

Beth Renstrom has been tapped as the person to lead the efforts to restore the Teweles and Brandeis grain elevator for future generations.


The Sturgeon Bay Historical Society announced the selection on Monday as it works with the city to develop the granary building into a three-season event space. Once completed, the 75-foot structure would help anchor the city’s west waterfront redevelopment while housing a catering kitchen, a public restroom, and interpretative displays. Renstrom is tasked with being the point person for the architectural and construction teams as well as telling the story of the granary.


She and her husband Jay moved to Sturgeon Bay to become full-time residents in 2016 after almost two decades working for the global software company Oracle. In the release, Renstrom stated she has been a supporter of the granary for a long time and appreciates the community’s value of history.


We will have more with Renstrom later this week.



The Sturgeon Bay Historical Society Foundation is pleased to announce that Beth Renstrom has been engaged as acting executive director in charge of the group’s efforts to convert the historic 1901 Teweles and Brandeis Granary to a three-season event space as part of the City of Sturgeon Bay’s west waterfront redevelopment plan.


The Historical Society Foundation is working to fulfill an agreement with the City of Sturgeon Bay to provide a gathering space for both private and public events – family reunions, art fairs, weddings, small business meetings, etc. – as part of a waterfront park. The finished structure will house a catering kitchen and a public restroom and include interpretive displays sharing the granary’s unique role in the settlement the City’s westside, once called Sawyer, and the greater Sturgeon Bay area.


Christie Weber, SBHSF president, says, “We are incredibly fortunate to have someone of Beth’s experience, passion and dedication. She will act as the point person for all aspects of the project, connecting our architectural team (LaDallman), the construction team (SMET) and the many volunteers who are engaged in the success of this effort. She will also help facilitate our fundraising efforts and communicate our progress and needs to the greater community. This is a huge and important project, and we have faith that Beth, with her professional experience, natural enthusiasm and love of history, is the right person to lead it.”


Renstrom worked for the global software company Oracle, Inc. for nearly two decades and retired as director and senior product manager. She was responsible for guiding major initiatives from concept to resolution and led teams in marketing strategy, sales and partner relationships. Her areas of expertise include communication, team building and problem solving.


Renstrom and her husband, Jay, have long ties to Door County and moved to Sturgeon Bay full-time in 2016. They are active in many community organizations.


“I’m thrilled and honored to accept this position,” said Renstrom. “I’ve been a supporter of the Teweles and Brandeis Granary for a long time and am proud to live in a community that values its history. More and more people are realizing the importance of saving the authentic structures that illuminate aspects of our past. Making the granary relevant for the present and sustainable into the future is a challenge I look forward to. We have a great, creative team working on this.”


The Teweles and Brandeis Granary is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is believed to be one of the last remaining grain elevators of its kind on the Great Lakes. The 75-foot tall structure (when restored) includes 19 wooden bins for grain storage on its second floor. The 20th bin space housed a manlift that allowed a worker to pull himself up to the headhouse to control a manually-rotated grain diverter. Farm families throughout the region brought harvested grain to the Teweles and Brandeis elevator where it could be stored until it was loaded onto a boat or railway car for shipment to the Milwaukee or Chicago markets.


One of Renstrom’s priorities will be communicating the granary’s story and restoration progress with the public and donors. “So much has been happening behind the scenes – design work, cost estimating, lease negotiations, etc. To the average person, it looks like nothing is happening. We’re excited to start sharing the project and engaging with the community more broadly.”

Packer fans share Lambeau experience

The season ended for the Green Bay Packers Sunday evening in bitter fashion, but loyal fans from Sturgeon Bay who attended the NFC Championship game say the memories will still be happy ones.  Brent Wiegand and Danielle Stahl were two of the 8,578 in attendance at Lambeau Field on Sunday.  With the capacity of the stadium able to hold over 80,000 people, Stahl, who is a season ticket holder, says the atmosphere was very different than the games she went to in the past.



Experiencing his first Packer game at Lambeau Field, Weigand says fans did their best to make as much noise as possible to distract Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.



Although the tickets for the NFC Championship game were over $200 apiece and the Packers lost 31-26, both Wiegand and Stahl agreed that just being able to attend a Packer game this season made it all worthwhile. 


(photo contributed)

School districts continue summer sports league founded during pandemic

The summer softball league founded by several local school districts during the COVID 19 pandemic will return for another season.  The Lakeshore Softball League fielded teams from Sevastopol, Algoma, Southern Door, and Kewaunee to give youths a summer sports outlet.  There have been discussions of possibly offering another sport this summer.  The league followed all public health advisors and recommendations.  Tom Ash, Board President of the Mighty Pioneers of Sevastopol, says that will continue this season.


The Lakeshore Softball League allows players of different age groups to take part. Ash also says there is hope that the league will expand.

Ash says there has been no discussion as to whether players will be required to be immunized before playing.


(photo courtesy of Mighty Pioneers Sports Club)

City clearing trees from Sunset Park

Sunset Park in Sturgeon Bay will have a more spacious look this spring due to the removal of diseased trees.  Sturgeon Bay Municipal Services Director Mike Barker says the mild winter has allowed city crews to work on clearing dead Ash trees from the park impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer.  He says several dozen trees have already been taken down.



Barker estimates that the Emerald Ash Borer wiped out 75 percent of Sunset Park trees.  High water levels within the park also contributed to killing several other species of trees near Little Lake in the past year.  Barker says plans are to plant several trees this spring and summer. 

Teachers, like students, adjusting to synchronous learning

As teachers and students continue to adapt to the challenges brought about by remote learning, many are adjusting to the hybrid of having students trying to learn in-person and virtually. 
Cliff Wind, a math teacher at Sturgeon Bay High School, says this has been the most challenging year in his career.  He says the students and staff are doing their best with all things considered.



Wind notes that the one problem with synchronous learning is that some attention is being taken away from children in the classroom. The disruption caused by quarantines and isolations periodically adds to the challenges of a consistent learning environment.  He hopes the school year can return to more traditional learning methods when the next school year comes in the fall.   

FYRE program brings light to teen dating violence

The youth advocate for Help of Door County's FYRE program, forging youth relationships and education, brings light to a problem that has alarming statistics concerning teenagers.  Karla Romero says that one in five teens experience dating violence while in a relationship.  Of those victims, only one in three will ever tell anyone, according to Romero.  She says parents need to know if their child is in an abusive relationship.



Romero notes that parents and friends should watch for signs that a teen may be facing a form of dating violence.  FYRE has weekly virtual meetings with the teen members running the group.  Romero says the interaction helps to empower them to use their voice.  Teens may not confide in their parents about dating violence, fearing that future dating won't be allowed.  You can listen to the entire conversation with Karla Romero on the podcast page

Families preparing to act on immigration reform efforts

Some Door County families are preparing to take action under President Joseph Biden's proposed U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.  The plan would help an estimated 11-million undocumented immigrants and family members through an eight-year pathway to U.S. Citizenship.  Imelda Delchambre, with the Hispanic Resource Center of Door and Kewaunee Counties, says such action will help reunite some local families whose parents are undocumented while their children were born in the U.S.

If enacted, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would also improve screening technologies used for border security and provide assistance to Central American nations to address the root causes of issues that contribute to migrations north.

Some Door County families are preparing to take action under President Joseph Biden's plan to help undocumented immigrants and family members obtain U.S. Citizenship.  Imelda Delchambre, with the Hispanic Resource Center of Door and Kewaunee Counties, says such action will help reunite some local families.

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