News

Door County reports fifth COVID-19 death, Kewaunee has seventh

COVID-19 cases continued to surge in the area with both Door County and Kewaunee County reporting an additional death on Monday.    Positive tests in Door County went up 32 with no recoveries noted.  Active cases increase to 198 with one additional hospitalization.  Kewaunee County reported 45 more positive tests of the coronavirus on Monday while 36 recoveries brought the active cases up to 101.  The death toll now stands at five in Door County and seven in Kewaunee County.   The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported that the state had surpassed 200,000 confirmed positive tests of COVID-19 to date.  Hospitalizations increased 84 with ten additional deaths in Wisconsin on Monday.  

 

 

Overnight street parking ends on Saturday

Starting on Sunday municipalities in Door and Kewaunee counties will be enforcing the overnight parking ban of vehicles on the streets.  The ordinances are in place to give street departments the ability to clear snowfall off the roadways safely and quickly.  Algoma Public Works Director Matt Murphy says his crews can get the job done when everyone complies with the 2 am- 5 am no parking law.

 

 

The overnight parking ordinances are in effect through March 31.  Algoma Police Chief Randy Remiker says that for the first two weeks officers will leave notes on vehicles reminding residents of the need to keep their vehicles off the street overnight.  After that, citations and possible towing of the vehicle at the owner's expense may occur.  Remiker notes that parking citations are $25 and double to $50 if not paid within three days.

 

(picture of Public Works Director Matt Murphy courtesy of City of Algoma)    

Slezewski chosen for Good Citizen Award

Griffin Slezewski, a senior at Southern Door High School has been selected by classmates and teachers as this year’s recipient of the Good Citizen Award.  High School Principal Steve Bousley says Slezewski exemplifies the outstanding qualities of leadership, dependability, service, and patriotism that the award represents.

 

 

Slezewski says he was surprised and honored to receive the recognition.

 

 

The award is sponsored by the Jean Nicolet Chapter from the Daughters of the American Revolution.   Slezewski is the son of Kevin and Tracy Slezewski.  He plans to attend college next year pursuing a business degree and compete in wrestling.

 


Egg Harbor bestowed with Governor's Tourism Award

The Village of Egg Harbor received a Governor’s Tourism Award last week.  Nominated by Destination Door County, Egg Harbor took the initiative in 2017 to bring more sustainable practices by becoming a Green Tier Legacy community.  Village Administrator Ryan Heise shares some of the eco-friendly programs implemented.

 

 

Heise adds that the village is working on the removal of invasive species and installing solar energy at the Kress Pavilion.  The village also streamlined building and zoning codes to make it easier for residents to install solar energy.    Egg Harbor was chosen over six other communities that were nominated for the Stewardship Award.  You can listen to the entire interview with Ryan Heise on the Podcast Page at DoorCountyDailyNews.com.     

 

Toys for Tots undergoes changes

The generosity hopes to still be there, but Kewaunee County’s Toys for Tots will undergo other changes due to COVID-19 in 2020. For starters, registration will only be held over the phone from November 2nd to December 16th. The toy drop-off at 27 locations across Kewaunee County will look the same but pick-up for registered families will not. Families will instead a specific time come in and get a prepackaged bag of toys for their families at Kewaunee’s Holy Rosary Church rather than picking what they would like at an event held at Kewaunee School District. Toys for Tots organizer and Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says this year is especially important to give back.

We have more details on how you can register your family and donate to the cause posted with the links below.

 

 

Hunters getting outdoors

Hunters in Door and Kewaunee counties are finding no trouble social distancing while trying to get their elusive buck or doe. As of the Wisconsin DNR’s last update, hunters have harvested 580 deer in Door County and 471 in Kewaunee County. About a quarter of those in each county came during the youth deer gun hunt weekend, which took place on October 10th and 11th. The others have come during the current archery and crossbow periods. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden Chris Kratcha says the harvest has been normal so far, but he has noticed more hunters going out into the woods.

Archery and crossbow deer season goes until January 3rd while the gun hunt period is set for November 21st through the 30th. Hunters are hoping for a more successful year in the woods with hunters with the 2019 buck harvest the lowest it has been since 2011 in Door County and 2013 in Kewaunee County.


4-H drives up support for members, volunteers

The banquet hall was replaced with a view on the green at the Kewaunee County Fairgrounds in Luxemburg Saturday afternoon as the Kewaunee County 4-H hosted its annual awards banquet. Restrictions at the state 4-H level limited what Kewaunee County could do to honor its members and volunteers. Rather than doing in front of a computer or mailing out awards, the Kewaunee County 4-H offered a drive-in experience with the back of its exposition hall serving as the stage and 104.1 WRLU playing the ceremony on the radio. Kewaunee County 4-H Jill Jorgensen says it was important to her and the volunteers to honor those who make the organization stand out.

Close to 50 members and volunteers were honored during the Saturday award ceremony, including Key Award winners Daria Ahrens, Brooklen Cloutier, and Aliza Jacobs as well as Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame Laureates Joe and Linda Pribek. You can find the full listing of award winners by clicking this link.

 

You can listen to the full broadcast by visiting our podcasts page.

 

 

Nelson announces run for U.S. Senate

The 2020 election is over a week away, but one Democratic candidate is already thinking about 2022. Outagamie County Executive Thomas Nelson announced his run for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Senator Ron Johnson. In a video posted online on Monday, Nelson strongly criticized the Republican senator from Oshkosh for his approach to COVID-19 and the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court confirmation vote of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Voters in Door and Kewaunee counties have voted for Nelson in the past, first as lieutenant governor in 2010 and as U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s Eighth District in 2016. Nelson lost both of those races. Senator Johnson said in 2016 he would not run for a third term after defeating Russ Feingold in 2016, but reopened the door to the possibility in 2019 according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Plan Commission weighs two potential developments

The Sunset School redevelopment project was discussed at Wednesday's City Plan Commission meeting. The Sturgeon Bay School District owns the property, and so the final say on any course of action resides with it. The city serves in an advisory role. It considered three proposals, opting to recommend a 23-unit townhome concept. 
S. C. Swiderski (SCS) of Mosinee submitted the plan, which does not include affordable housing. Expectations are for the development to be valued between three and three-and-a-half million dollars. SCS is asking to be gifted the land and have the district pay for demolition of the existing structure. A recent estimate suggests the cost to be $189,000 when factoring in the removal of debris. Administrator Josh VanLieshout says the district had been cautioned by city officials ahead of time that they may not receive any windfall from the property's sale.

 


The commission also looked at the three proposals for a parcel of land on Maple Street. It rejected an affordable housing proposal titled the Village at West Waterfront. The submission relied on Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority funds, which would not be allocated until springtime. Construction wouldn't start until January 2022. The estimated value came in at $1.67 million. All members thought that the location required something more upscale than what was offered.


The second submission seeks to use $1.4 million in community development grants and $740,000 in additional assistance. In total, the building would have 40 units, 21 of those affordable housing. Construction could be concluded as early as June of 2022. Commission members unanimously rejected the building's preliminary design, asking Northpointe Development to look at several modifications.


The third proposal was a grander project, 78 units with no affordable housing. It asked for $2.5 million in financial assistance and included an opt-out clause lasting up to 18 months. That was too long for Mayor David Ward. He said it was conceivable that construction may drag into 2024 given that timeline, and the rest of the commission agreed with his assessment. The panel will deliberate on Northpointe's resubmission at a future meeting.

 

*Photo shows exterior design for townhomes at the West Side School site on Eighth Avenue. The City Plan Commission will be recommending the S.C. Swiderski development to Sturgeon Bay School District who owns the property.

 


COVID-19 takes toll on those suffering from memory loss

Calls have poured in this year to the Memory Clinic at the Door County Medical Center over concerns related to an elderly family member and forgetfulness. Geriatric Outreach Specialist Cristy Wisniewski says it is important to consider the effects of stress on the brain. Thankfully, after a thorough examination, most referrals have checked out just fine. Wisniewski will be presenting on the impact of isolation and changes in routine Wednesday during the Door County YMCA's Virtual Community Healthy Living Fair. 


Wisniewski says stimulation is vitally important for those suffering from memory loss. Before COVID-19, the recommendation was to ramp up exposure for those with early-onset symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's. Virtual options can replace social interaction for some, but not all.

 


Wisniewski hopes to restart memory cafes in the coming months in an online setting.

 

*Photo of Memory Clinic staff courtesy of the Door County Medical Center Facebook page.

 

FEMA funds aid area unemployed

Residents in Door and Kewaunee counties who were unemployed or underemployed over the summer may qualify for additional assistance.  The Lost Wages Assistance program benefits those who were jobless or worked part-time due to the pandemic.  The additional benefits issued through the Federal Emergency Management Agency would cover the period from August 1st through September 5th.  Jim Golembeski, the Executive Director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, says those funds will help offset part of other federal aid that ended in July.

 

 

 

For more information on the Lost Wages Assistance program log on to https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/lwa/.

Snowplows to be outfitted in early November

County highway and municipal public works departments have not yet started on outfitting their winter plowing equipment. Most are putting the finishing touches on various construction or maintenance projects. In Algoma, work is wrapping up on the retention ponds near the Youth Center. However, another stormwater job still has to be completed on Sixth Street, says Public Works Director Matt Murphy.

 


Murphy doesn't expect any complications with the work. Once that is done, he says the trucks will be harnessed in the first or second week of November. Jon Kolodziej gave a similar timetable for winter outfitting at last week's Door County Airport and Highway Committee. Central and Western Wisconsin have already been hit with significant snowfall, but outside of some flakes scheduled for Sunday, Door and Kewaunee Counties have remained powder free. Mother Nature has the ultimate say in when departments shift their focus.

 


Board of Supervisors to debate Potawatomi Tower resolution

Two items on the agenda for Tuesday's Door County Board of Supervisors meeting come from the Legislative Committee. Chair Bob Bultman says he is particularly passionate about the first topic. The resolution expresses support for the repair proposal put forth by the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society for the Potawatomi Tower. Bultman says it mirrors actions taken by the Town of Nasewaupee and the City of Sturgeon Bay. Representative Joel Kitchens has also endorsed the project in the State Assembly. Bultman says that when you compare the tower restoration to alternatives that have been used at other area landmarks, support is justified.

 


The Board of Supervisors will also be looking at a resolution to condemn systemic racism. Bultman says that topic has been a prominent discussion point in the Legislative Committee for months. The goal is to have something that matters, and adoption could result in administrative changes at the county level. The resolution stops short of calling for a new committee dedicated to the issue.

 

Check smoke detectors as we fall back

The time change takes place early on Sunday, November 1st, this year. The switch from Daylight Savings Time to Central Standard Time leads to an extra hour of sleep and an early sunset. It is also traditionally the weekend to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are functioning correctly. Fire Chief Justin MacDonald says the Ephraim Department suggests residents do it more frequently than that.

 


He says monthly inspections can be difficult for those with mobility issues, but that should not be a deterrent. Ephraim Fire and other Door County departments are happy to provide the service for those who can't do it themselves.

 

Door County Catholic landmark gets recognition

The Wisconsin Historical Society will be installing a historical marker dedicated to the Brussels Cemetery grotto. Father Edward Looney credits Patrick O'Hern, a member of the St. Francis and St. Mary's congregation, with being the point man for the recognition campaign. He was able to showcase several improvements made to the site, including installing a level walking path topped with brick pavers to help make the grotto more accessible to visitors. 


The cave looks similar to its original form, except for one modification. The crucifix was removed two years ago. Looney says the church hired an outside contractor to create a mold to replace the concrete statue, but it failed. The new cross is made from ironwood trees. Looney says other grottos in the state have gotten historical markers, and it is only appropriate for the Brussels one to be held in the same esteem.


The grotto commemorates the apparition of Mary at Lourdes, France. Looney says he has made the pilgrimage to that site and is bringing one of its powerful traditions to Door County.

 


The ceremony will be on October 29th, the 85th anniversary of the grotto's initial dedication.

 

LGBTQ community hopes for growing acceptance in Door County

Members of Door County's LGBTQ community are seeing more acceptance among people and businesses.  They'd like to build on that success. October is LGBTQ+ history month. Open Door Pride Fest has become an annual summer event in Sturgeon Bay for all people.  Organizer Cathy Grier says the festival is among the efforts to help the community overall and friends and family, in particular, better understand LGBTQ issues.

 

 

 

Wisconsin has been a pioneer in equal rights protection laws.  That's inspired other states to enact similar legislation.  Sandy Brown of PFLAG Door County, however, says the Badger State still has a ways to go.

 

 

 

Among the efforts to make Door County more welcoming to visitors with alternative lifestyles and ethnicities is the “We Welcome All” campaign adopted by some local businesses.

WHEDA pilot program details still sketchy

Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) announced that Door County could participate in a pilot program that would speed up development for affordable housing in the area. Being able to apply more quickly is not the same thing as having guaranteed funding. Sturgeon Bay Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak discussed the issues that still need to be resolved at Wednesday's City Plan Commission meeting.

 


Sturgeon Bay knows first-hand the effects of a WHEDA rejection. Staff had to table development at the Westside School after affordable housing funding was denied for the project. Sister Bay is submitting a project to WHEDA for this year. Municipalities sign off on potential development in the fall with a decision made by the agency in April.

 

Lights of Christmas inspires community

It was the kindness, not the frozen custard that was the sweetest treat served during Wednesday’s Lights of Christmas Program at Culver’s in Sturgeon Bay. This year, the community Culver’s, and Door Stop Amoco donated $3,623.29 to the cause that buys gift cards and other items for community members in need.  Personnel from the Door County Sheriff’s Department, Sturgeon Bay Police Department, Door County Emergency Services, and Sturgeon Bay Fire Department all took part in the event greeting people as they picked up their food at the drive-thru window. It was the first time Sturgeon Bay Police Officer Eric Jose was able to help out during the event, but he has seen the impact the donations have had during his years on the force.

 

 

 

Fellow Police Officer Brandon Shew reflected on a past experience when one boy saw him using the money to buy Christmas presents for a single mother and her child and the generosity that ensued.

 

 

 

Over the last three years, the Lights of Christmas Program event in Sturgeon Bay has raised approximately $10,000. Shew says people who missed out on stopping by can still donate at the Sturgeon Bay Police Department.

After school program goes virtual

Environmental Interpreter Anna Foster says the county’s spike in COVID-19 activity has changed how The Ridges is conducting its after school programming.

 


She says that the lessons remain popular, and there are plenty of outdoor activities at the sanctuary that can help replace the hands-on learning experience. The organization has recently added a new trail at the Logan Creek Preserve. The half-mile path breaks off from the Lake Trail Loop to follow the creek north. A Facebook post from The Ridges touts it as challenging.


The night hikes are also enjoying popularity. Foster says the groups have already developed a close relationship with some of the sanctuary’s nocturnal creatures. She has had a flying squirrel land on her twice. The Ridges is planning a special holiday edition on Halloween proper and is working on doing holiday hikes as well.

 

State waste study has local benefits

Door County has shipped garbage elsewhere since closing its landfill over a decade ago. The county could, however, indirectly benefit from the Department of Natural Resources studies of the types of garbage being brought into 12 state landfills. County Administrator Ken Pabich says the studies' data can help the county better formulate solid waste disposal and recycling policies.

 

 

 

DNR Solid Waste Coordinator Casey Lemensky says the waste characterization studies can also help communities divert items that can be easily reused or that pose a danger out of engineered landfills.

 

 

 

Among those landfills selected for study is one located in Manitowoc County.

Door County Fire Chiefs have limited election role

Compared to its efforts in the spring election, the Door County Fire Chiefs Association's volunteering role will be more limited in nature for the general. Chris Hecht from the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Department says that he has offered volunteers the opportunity to help out but is not actively tracking what is being done. Earlier this year, the association helped drive people to the polls. More importantly, Hecht says they were instrumental in registering residents with poor internet or limited technological savvy for absentee voting.

 


The organization is devoting most of its effort to food distributions. The events occur in Sister Bay and Sturgeon Bay at various locations.

 

Kids already embracing the Halloween spirit

Destination Sturgeon Bay is already receiving completed entries with over a week to go before scavenger hunt maps are due back. Kids can print a Spooktacular Sturgeon Bay map from home or pick one up at the organization's Third Avenue office. A fully-stocked stand of maps and brochures is in the foyer for those visiting after-hours. Over 40 businesses are participating, divided into three regions. Complete one of the three zones in its entirety for a prize and to be eligible for the raffle happening November 2nd. Marketing and Events Director Carly Sarkis says they're easy to turn in.

 


The DoorCountyDailyNews.com office is one of the locations in the "Outskirts" region. That area has the most returns so far. 


The Door County Historical Society is planning its first-ever Halloween event at Heritage Village from 3:00-7:00 PM on Saturday, October 31st. Executive Director Bailey Koepsel says that in-person events are crucial to the organization's mission. Missing out on Root Beer Fest and others weakens the Historical Society's ties to the community. She says that even small things like the distribution of pre-packaged treat bags go a long way toward rebuilding that bond. Heritage Halloween is billed as a scare-free event suitable for young kids and families. The village buildings will be decorated, with volunteers greeting kids on the porches with captivating ghost stories and other holiday tales.

 

YMCA Virtual Community Healthy Living Fair begins Monday

The Door County YMCA's Community Healthy Living Fair is online only but, in some ways, more accessible than ever. Senior Program Director Mary Claire McHugh says the virtual edition runs five days, starting on Monday, October 26th. The number of vendors involved is down slightly this year, around 20 instead of 30 to 35, but they include some of the area's largest organizations. McHugh says the event will utilize Facebook Live in conjunction with the Door County Medical Center.

 


Christy Wisniewski of the Door County Memory Clinic specializes in dementia and Alzheimer's disease care. She hosts memory cafes for those suffering from mild to moderate memory loss.

 

*Photo from last year's Community Healthy Living Fair, courtesy of Door County Y Facebook page.

 

DOT funds Walk, Bike & Eggsplore project

The planned Highway 42 project in the Village of Egg Harbor in 2023 will also make it easier for people to walk and bike around the area.  The village's Walk, Bike and Eggsplore project is getting $1.38-million through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Transit Alternatives Program.  During the Highway 42 project Egg Harbor will extend sidewalks and add bike lanes from downtown to South Trail Road and from County Highway E north to Church Street.  Village Administrator Ryan Hiese says the improvements will benefit residents and visitors.

 

 

 

Work on the sidewalk and bike lane expansions, and new street lights will be done at the same time as the Highway 42 project.  

"Sandwich Generation" faces double stressors

Middle-age adults that are caring for their aging parents as well as their children, face daily pressures that can be intense, says Sturgeon Bay Psychologist Dr. Dennis White.  They are known as the Sandwich Generation and are from 35 to 54 years of age.  Dr. White notes they are caught between two responsibilities while trying to maintain careers, healthy marriages, further their education, and pursue other interests.  The emotional impact can be intense, besides dealing with medical, legal, and financial issues. 

 

 

Dr. White adds that although many caregivers caught in the middle can find it very rewarding, many feel pressured beyond the ability to cope.  You can listen to Dr. White’s entire Mental Health Minute below. 

 

 

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