Gibraltar High School construction on schedule

Gibraltar High School construction remains on schedule and is expected to be wrapped up by the end of December. District Superintendent Tina Van Meer says the late 2019 end date was always the intention and there is a specific reason for it.


Van Meer says the students have managed a sneak peek or two, supervised of course, at what the new facilities will look like. Anticipation and excitement are building for the grand tour when the holiday break comes to a close in January.


Local fishing tournament gets new organizers

Next year will see new management for the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament. The all-volunteer committee that has run it since the beginning has handed over responsibility of the tournament to Federation Angler. The professional organization operates six different circuits with events across the United States and Canada. President Robert Cartlidge says Federated knows the area well and Sturgeon Bay is a perfect fit for the North American Bass Challenge.


The Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament will be the first event on the 2020 calendar for the NABC, taking place in May. Registration will begin in January and the field is capped at 200 boats.


No area Christmas light contest this year

The Great Kewaunee County Holiday Light Contest will not be returning this year due to turnover at the Algoma Chamber of Commerce. That organization has been instrumental in running the competition in the past. No other municipalities are able to fill the void, by design, according to Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center Promotions Director Carly Sarkis.


Sarkis says that if Kewaunee County is unable to bring back the Christmas light contest in the future, Door County and Sturgeon Bay may think about adding something similar to their calendars. Currently, Sturgeon Bay kicks off holiday celebrations in the area with Christmas by the Bay just before Thanksgiving.


Midsummer's Music helps fill educational void

The Griffon String Quartet from Midsummer's Music is addressing a need for classical instruction for Door County youth. The program does private lessons and provides training as part of a partnership with the Northern Door County YMCA in Fish Creek. The group also puts on concerts throughout the school year reaching kids in all grades K through 12. Executive Director Allyson Fleck says most schools in the area have cut strings from their music programs.


String instruments consist of the violin, viola, cello, and bass. The latter is not part of the quartet's ensemble. 


Harbor Holiday lights up Baileys Harbor

Baileys Harbor held its annual Harbor Holiday event on Saturday with local businesses running activities including cookie decorating and wreath making. Several trees along Highway 57 were adorned with lights for the occurrence. The parade started at 5 PM, at night for the second straight year. It stepped off near the post office and ran on the highway north to the Town Hall. Harbor Community Association Coordinator Brynn Swanson says that the change in parade route helped to increase the event’s economic impact for Baileys Harbor.


After the parade wrapped up there was a lighting ceremony of the town Christmas tree. Video of the parade can be seen along with the written story at Door County Daily News dot com.




Lake Superior helping prolong high water levels

The Army Corps of Engineers says water levels will most likely remain high throughout 2020 for a host of factors. Some are easily identified like forecasts for a wetter than average winter but others are less evident. Lakes Huron and Michigan are the only Great Lakes to avoid making a record high this year. Lake Superior did and that has a trickle-down effect elsewhere according to Chief of Watershed Hydrology Keith Kompoltowicz.


The Farmer's Almanac has predicted a very cold winter for the Upper Midwest. If the Great Lakes freeze over like last year that would contribute to lake levels as well.


Birch Creek Music expands community presence

The Birch Music Performance Center has a concert hall on its campus in Egg Harbor but Door County residents are just as likely to run into performances at their favorite restaurant as they are in a more formal setting. Executive Director Mona Christensen says the Ambassador Program extends the center's reach by three-fold.


Students in the Ambassador Program do their performances for just two weeks. They prepare their musical sets on Sunday and by Wednesday they have started their shows, 16 in all during that stretch. Christensen says the program is a major draw to entice returning students. The ambassadors are the cream of the crop, helping Birch Creek put its best foot forward for the community. 


Wisconsin hunting participation holding up well

While the participation rate for hunting in Wisconsin is declining, the drop is gradual compared to surrounding states. License sales for 2019 were consistent with that of the year before. DNR Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller says Wisconsin's hunting scene has held up well because it is a homecoming of sorts.


Holding on to the hunting tradition has tangible, economic benefits in addition to the cultural impact of passing down a legacy to the next generation. 


Census still hiring for 2020

On Tuesday, there is a hiring event for the US Census. Most of next year's count will be done online, but for hard-to-reach families canvassing is still necessary. Recruiting Assistant Elaine Brigman will be on hand to help people apply. Library Director Tina Kakuske says that Door County Libraries' involvement goes beyond assisting in hiring. It is an active participant in the county's Complete Count Committee.


Another hiring event occurs on Tuesday, December 17th at the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove branch from 1-4:30 PM. 


Local businesses retain Christmas shoppers

Small businesses find their efforts to attract holiday shoppers pay off in bringing back first-time customers throughout the year.  The so-called destination shops develop a loyal clientele who stop in as new customers and gradual make it a point just to stop in and visit.  Liz Welter, co-owner of Novel Bay Booksellers, says her shop has become a place for the community to gather.


Welter says such meet-ups provided valuable feedback that helps Novel Bay adjust its inventory to fit customer demand.

Door County farmers encourage trade deal

Door County farmers are eagerly anticipating word on the phase one trade deal with China that would reopen the country to American agricultural exports. All farmers have been hit by the trade war between the two countries, from soybeans to dairy. Some have been affected more than others, though, according to Door County Farm Bureau President Daniel Vandertie.


A Chinese trade deal has been said to be imminent for over a month now, but negotiations continue to drag on. Some rumors are that the deal has been pushed back until after the middle of December. Others speculate that a deal may never happen. 


WEDC grant opens China to local products

State aid will help Door County businesses trade with the county's Sister City of Jingdezhen, China.  The county received a $97,000 Collaborative Market Access Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.  County Supervisor Laura Vlies-Wotachek, who also serves on the Sister City Committee, says that money will go toward setting up a program to enable trade for local companies interested in reaching new markets.


Trade between Door County and Jingdezhen will be on the Sister City Committee agenda when it meets Monday,  December 9th at the Door County Government Center on Nebraska Street at 9:00 AM. 

Pantry not finding enough veggies for holidays

The Kewaunee County Food Pantry is getting plenty of donations for holiday meals except when it comes to certain vegetables.  Produce has been in shorter supply this season because of reduced harvest brought on by poor summer growing conditions.  Ken Marquardt, the pantry president, says even pantry suppliers face challenges in finding select vegetables.




Marquardt says you can help by picking up an extra can of peas or carrots when shopping and dropping them off at the pantry on Sunset Avenue in Algoma.

Pedestrian struck by vehicle in Sevastopol

A 64-year-old man from Sturgeon Bay was killed after being struck by a vehicle Friday night in Sevastopol. The accident occurred on Highway 57, near County Road P, just after 7 PM. Inside the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe was a man and woman, both from Sturgeon Bay, who were not injured. The man who was hit was taken to Door County Medical Center in Sturgeon Bay where he was pronounced dead from his injuries.

An investigation continues. According to Lieutenant Robert Lauder, Door County Sheriffs were assisted at the scene by the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department, Sevastopol First Responders, and Door County Emergency Services. The Wisconsin State Patrol Reconstruction Unit was also on the scene causing 57 to be closed for over six-and-a-half hours.




Every day is a small business day

The Door County Economic Development Corporation works to make every day a small business day.  That's made possible through a number of different programs tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs at all levels.  DCEDC offers its eight-week Entrepreneur Training Program in the first quarter of each year.  DCEDC Executive Director Jim Schuessler says the program helps those with just an idea for a new business and those looking to take their enterprises a step further.




In addition, DCEDC offers First Steps, an online class to help aspiring business owners check their business readiness and a counselor through the Small Business Development Center in Green Bay.

Lawmaker and economist differ on critical study of Foxconn

A university study of the Foxconn project concluded that the tax breaks and other incentives could be costly in the long-run to counties statewide, including Door and Kewaunee.  The George Mason University survey says the $3.6-billion in incentives could depress economic activity in the state by tens of billions of dollars over the next 15-years.  The study concludes the incentives would be made up for through higher taxes for other companies and individuals and reduce investment in public services. State Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay believes that type of investment would have been better spent helping Wisconsin counties.




A UW-Madison economics professor, however, believes the George Mason University study did not consider other factors.  Noah Williams says similar tax incentives have been used on other projects and are not uncommon in neighboring states.




State tax incentives for Foxconn were also contingent on the creation of 13,000 jobs over 15 years in addition to the construction of a manufacturing center in Racine County and regional technology centers in communities around the state including Green Bay.

Trying to prevent copycat shootings

With two school violence incidents this week in Waukesha and Oshkosh, plus a school threat made against Sturgeon Bay High School, Door County School Resource Officers are trying to prevent another copycat attack. Lieutenant Bob Lauder says the danger for schools goes up after any incident nationwide. He stresses that it can also be a wake-up call. 


Lauder says it is the job of School Resource Officers to do constant threat assessments. When the possibility of violence ticks up, a SRO can lean on the ties they have built within the school, or district, that they serve. 


Lawmaker seeks answers to tourism council leadership challenges

The election of a new chair for the body that aids tourism in Door County and statewide is raising concerns and questions.  This weeks' selection of Joe Klimczak to head the Wisconsin Tourism Council comes after an earlier election was tabled because a quorum was not present at that meeting.  That's also raised concerns that Klimczak's tenure may be short because of the uncertainty of his reappointment to the council next year.  Many people within the state's tourism industry want answers, including council member and State Senator Andre Jacque of De Pere.



Klimczak was the only person nominated for the chair when the tourism council met this week.  He and council member Kathy Kopp ran for council chair in October, however that vote was canceled because there were fewer than the eleven members needed for any business to be transacted legally. 

Bitter cold dangerous to petsĀ 

With the first arctic cold blast of the season predicted to hit the area early next week, pet owners are being reminded to shield their dogs from the bitter temperatures outside.  Dr. Jordan Kobilca of the Luxemburg Pet Clinic and Door County Veterinary Hospital says dogs should only be let outside for a brief time when temperatures fall below freezing.



 Dr. Jordan also suggests checking your pet’s paws and stomach area to remove any ice, salt, and chemicals.  You can find winter safety tips for your pets below from





Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice from our experts:

  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
  • Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.





Dollar General to resubmit proposal in January

After Sister Bay rejected an initial proposal last week by Dollar General, the discount chain will re-present at the next village plan commission meeting in January.  According to Village Administrator Beau Bernhoft, all of the zoning code requirements were not met by Dollar General.



Point of Beginning submitted plans on Dollar General’s behalf and will now have to adjust the necessary changes to gain approval by the plan commission.  The initial plans called for construction to begin next spring for a 7,500-square-foot building with 41 parking spaces located at the corner of Highway 42 and Fieldcrest Road.   


Bay Title moving to old Mandarin Gardens' location

Construction crews began tearing down the old Mandarin Gardens restaurant this week in Sturgeon Bay.  The property was purchased by Jack May of Bay Title and Abstract and Peninsula Title.  He explains the reasoning behind the move from his current business location on Highway 42/57 to the future location next to Marchant Foods on Green Bay Road.



May says the demolition and removal of the old restaurant should be completed by the end of the week and construction of the new building to begin next spring.   


Windows 7 deadline looming

Quantum PC in Sturgeon Bay has been busy making sure people running Windows on their computers are ready for 2020. On January 14th, Microsoft will pull its support for devices running Windows 7. While the equipment will still run, it will be more susceptible to security risks and viruses. Erin Helgeson from Quantum PC says the deadline has kept them busy.

Quantum PC and other computer repair businesses likely will not run out of work soon as estimates more than a quarter of PCs worldwide will still be running Windows 7 two weeks after Microsoft ends its support of the product.

Charitable giving struggling

Donors gave to charities in record numbers during this year’s Giving Tuesday, but local organizations like the Door County Community Foundation are still struggling to get donations. According to a Fox Business report, Giving Tuesday generated nearly $2 billion in donations worldwide, with $511 million raised online. It comes after GivingUSA reported 2018 was a down year for charitable donations, pointing to changes in the tax law and fourth-quarter declines in the stock market as possible causes. Door County Community Foundation President and CEO Bret Bicoy says the economy is strong right now and says setting up a donor-advised fund could offer people extra incentive to give more this year.

Bicoy says even though Door County has not been immune to the drop in charitable giving, he says area donors have still been generous and it is up to the charities to make the case to why they deserve the funding.

DNR to increase fish stocking

Lakeshore businesses in Door and Kewaunee Counties are praising a plan to increase the number of fish the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources places in Lake Michigan. For the next three years, the DNR will stock the lake with 1.2 million fish annually, with most of that coming from coho (500,000) and steelhead (460,000) salmon species. Wisconsin Lakeshore Business Association President and Accurate Marine owner Tom Kleiman praises the short-term and long-term vision of the plan by the DNR.

Kleiman says the introduction of brook trout and habitat preservation projects will only help the fishing industry thrive for years to come. Wisconsin DNR Fisheries Management Deputy Director Todd Kalish will speak on the full stocking plan at the WLBA’s fundraising event on Saturday at Classix in Kewaunee.


Photo submitted from Kewaunee/Door Salmon Tournament

E-learning battles snow days

Area school districts in Door and Kewaunee Counties hope to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature this winter to keep their academic calendars on schedule. Last year, snow and extreme cold claimed well over a week of class time, including a four-day stretch in late January. To limit the amount of instruction time that needs to be made up as a result, school districts are experimenting with different e-learning options. Gibraltar Area Schools recently tested out its e-learning platform with its students in November ahead of an in-home practice run this month. Kewaunee Principal Michael Bennett says its district has the ability to send assignments out to its students if they know school may be canceled for a certain amount of days.

Bennett says students having their own devices to complete the work make the concept of e-learning days easier handle, but acknowledges Internet connections may still be an issue.

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