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Daily E-lert


Inattentive driving blamed for Sturgeon Bay crash

No one was hurt but an accident in Sturgeon Bay early Sunday afternoon gave you a lesson in the importance of keeping your eyes on the road. The Sturgeon Bay Police Department was called to State Highway 42/57 near Utah Street just after noon on Sunday after a two-vehicle crash led to both of them getting towed. According to the police report, Max Boursaw of Sturgeon Bay was driving behind Zhifeng Liu of Algoma when his eyes went off the road. When his pickup truck hit the rumble strips on the shoulder of the road, Boursaw overcorrected and tried swerving around Liu’s vehicle before striking it. His truck went off the roadway and both vehicles suffered significant front-end damage. The accident caused major back-ups on State Highway 42/57 as many people were traveling home after their weekend stays. The road was closed for about 25 minutes and the scene was cleared before 12:45 p.m. Boursaw was cited for inattentive driving and operating a vehicle without insurance. 

Algoma in search of new City Treasurer

The City of Algoma is looking to fill the treasurer position currently held by Amber Shallow, who will be leaving her post on October 13.  City Administrator Matt Murphy says Shallow did a great job over her ten years of working for the city, especially the application process for community development block grants earned by Algoma over the years.  Murphy describes the work Shallow performed over the years and expectations for the new treasurer.



Murphy adds that Shallow has agreed to help out after October 13th with onboarding the new person who is hired and working some evenings if needed.   

Kratom legalization explored by Assembly Republicans

Whether you eat, drink, or inhale it, kratom could be legalized if approved by state officials later this year.


Rep. John Macco of Ledgeview and four other legislators introduced the bill known as AB 393 last week calling for the legalization of the herbal supplement some use to self-treat conditions like pain, anxiety, and opioid use disorder. Under the bill, kratom would be regulated to help prevent other issues from occurring. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, kratom can produce opioid and stimulant-like effects depending on the dosage. Its usage has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for medical use. Rep. Macco told WBAY last week that it would be a “great alternative to add some of the drug problems we have.”


Door County Sheriff’s Department drug investigator Elizabeth Williams says they have not seen too many issues yet with kratom but knows that despite it being a misdemeanor to possess, people can order the supplement through the mail. She sees kratom as an accessory to other drug use, not necessarily a replacement.

Assembly Republicans introduced a bill legalizing kratom last year, but the effort was dropped due to criticism from law enforcement. Kratom is legal in over 40 states with some stipulations and approximately 1.7 million Americans 12 and older used the substance in 2021.

Corn maze puts state's history forward

You can get lost in a corn maze and in the state’s agricultural history thanks to a fall attraction in Forestville.


The 175th anniversary of Wisconsin inspired the Guilette family to design its Red Barn Corn Maze in the state of Wisconsin, adding other features of America’s Dairyland into the final product. Visitors can follow the outline of the state and other elements of the Wisconsin flag.



Jan Guilette designed the course on graph paper before they planted the corn and subsequently began carving the path with a lawnmower. With the entrance stationed just outside a tent featuring old farm equipment, Guilette hopes visitors learn and have fun at the same time.

For those wanting less history and more hysterics, the Red Barn Corn Maze will feature a haunted maze on Fridays in October. Guilette credits members of the former Southern Door Haunted Mansion for helping them outfit the maze and help continue a Southern Door-area Halloween tradition.



EV Charger Mini-Grant Program restarts next month

You will have another opportunity to get a little financial assistance installing a new EV charger with help from Destination Door County. The organization is opening its third round of mini-grants on Sunday at 8 a.m. for area businesses that want to install the electric vehicle infrastructure needed to charge cars when needed. The $ 1,000 grants are open to any Door County business, non-profit organization, or government entity wishing to upgrade their current equipment or to install new products. The grants have disappeared quickly in the past because of interest in the program, which is part of Destination Door County’s sustainability initiatives. You can find more information about the program by clicking this link. The mini-grants program for EV chargers is expected to expire at the end of the year, but there is a possibility that it will get extended. There is a network of over 50 charging stations in Door County, located primarily in Sturgeon Bay, Sister Bay, Fish Creek, Ephraim, Ellison Bay, Egg Harbor, and Baileys Harbor.


Community Choir of Door County starting up on Tuesday

You can bring your vocal talents and sing with the Community Choir of Door County for the fall season.  The Community Choir is for all ages and levels of talent and skills.  The group will meet on Tuesday, September 26, and rehearse from 5:30 until 7:00 p.m. weekly during the season at the Sturgeon Bay High School choir room.  The first planned performance will be for a Veteran’s Day performance, and they sing the Messiah during the holidays.  There are no auditions or mandatory attendance, and a $25 dues fee covers expenses.  The choir director is Avery Burns and Cheryl Pfister is the choir’s founder.  If you want more information on the Community Choir of Door County, contact them on their Facebook page.  

Accident snarls traffic near bridge

An accident near the Bayview Bridge may affect your commute through Sturgeon Bay on Sunday.

A multi-vehicle accident between the Bayview Bridge and Utah Street closed both lanes of traffic as emergency crews clear the scene.


Crews were still on the scene as of 12:20 p.m., forcing people to use Sturgeon Bay's downtown bridges to travel across town. 


We will have more details on this incident when they become available.

"Sinking of the Erie L. Hackley" commemorated 120 years later

You can find out the interesting facts behind what is considered the largest single sea disaster in the history of Green Bay waters and how the loss impacted Fish Creek.  The last Gibraltar Talks for the 2023 season next month will feature the “Sinking of the Erie L. Hackley”.  The presentation will tell the story and numerous accounts of the survivors and victims of the tragedy that occurred on October 3rd, 1903.   Eleven people perished with only eight survivors who clung to the wreckage.  Gibraltar Historical Association Director Laurie Buske says the evening will have a narrator who will tell the story with community members representing the characters who were involved in the disaster 120 years ago.



The steamship transported freight and passengers across Green Bay waters long before roads and highways were around and sank near Marinette in 110 feet of water. The “Sinking of the Erie L. Hackley, the Day Fish Creek Stood Still” presentation will be at 7 p.m. at Gibraltar’s Old Town in Fish Creek on Tuesday, October 3rd.  The program is free to the public and you are encouraged to bring any articles or stories related to the sinking of the steamboat that evening. 


(Photo contributed)

Luxemburg-Casco Middle School students ditch personal tech

What may not seem like a big deal to you is now the talk at Luxemburg-Casco Middle School when it comes to personal devices.


The school launched its “Away for the Day” initiative at the beginning of the school year, barring its students from accessing their smart devices during the school year. Middle School Principal Todd Chandler says they implemented the program because they wanted the attention of their students back in the classroom. “We believe – and research supports – that by eliminating personal smart devices, schools are seeing increases in academic performance, increases in face-to-face communication, a reduction in social issues, and decreases in unkind acts and bullying.”


The research does back up Chandler and his administration’s claims. When schools in England banned mobile phones, the test scores of 16-year-old students increased by 6.4%. Moreover, research has shown that students who are regularly interrupted by text messages average 10.6% lower test scores. Approximately 89 percent of Luxemburg-Casco’s middle school students carry a personal cell phone, but 78 percent of the students’ parents agreed that there should be limitations to how much and when those devices can be used. Chandler says the learning curve has been steeper for eighth graders who were able to have their personal devices at the same school last year.

Students get five strikes before the tougher decisions need to be made. Previous transgressions are usually greeted with the devices taken away and a mandatory check-in of the device when they come to school after the fourth offense. Students can still have their phones for use before and after school, but Chandler admits that it has declined significantly since the first week of school.  

Special electors meeting looks to get Nasewaupee wired

If you want to surf the web quicker when living or working in the Town of Nasewaupee, Monday’s vote could be a step in the right direction. The town will host a special meeting of the electors on Monday to approve $5,000,000 in borrowing to fund the build-out of town-wide fiber-optic infrastructure. Nasewaupee officials have been working on providing better internet for its customers for well over a year since its Fibernet/Broadband Committee started meeting in April 2022. Bertram Communications has partnered with the town to help get its fiber project off the ground. A Wisconsin Public Service Commission grant, which has helped jumpstart other communities like Baileys Harbor, Washington Island, and Jacksonport with their efforts to get fiber internet installed is available, but matching funds are usually required to obtain them. The special meeting of the electors will take place at the Naswaupee Town Hall at 7 p.m. 

Farmers, motorists work together in the name of safety

As hundreds of farmers in Door and Kewaunee counties hit their fields over the next several weeks, you are being encouraged to do what you can so everyone gets to go home to their families. The agricultural sector remains one of the most dangerous in the country according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with 573 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers. During the third week of September, federal, state, and local agencies compile resources for farmers and other stakeholders to recognize National Farm Safety and Health Week. Not only does the week focus on tractor and rural roadway safety, it also focuses on operating within confined spaces and mental health. Adam Barta from Rio Creek Feed Mill and Peninsula Pride Farms says there are lots of ways farmers and motorists can keep each other safe.

According to UW-Extension, there were found 41 agricultural deaths in 2017 and 34 in 2018.  Tractors were the source of the majority of non-highway fatalities, and machinery is often the agent involved in entanglement, amputation injury, crushing, and other forms of non-fatal injury.

Fall Archaeological Dig at the Crossroads Cove Estuary Preserve is underway

The Fall Archaeological Dig at the Crossroads Cove Estuary Preserve is underway, and the general public—adults, families, groups –are invited to observe, or even better, to participate in the Dig on weekdays from now until Thursday, October 5.

Anytime you see activity at The Cove Estuary Preserve, you are welcome to park at the lot at 817 S. 20th Place and join in the experience. If school groups are present, visitors are invited to watch, but need to understand that our team of professional archaeologists may be too involved in educational outreach to answer questions. At other times, though, they will be more than willing to discuss their work and help visitors understand that archaeology is far more than a treasure hunt.

The stereotype of archaeologists involved in exotic travel, adventure and the acquisition of fabulous treasures is now far from accurate. Archaeology also is no longer an adult hobby like, say, stamp collecting, in which many families had a cigar box full of arrowheads tucked away, or perhaps an array of artifacts displayed in a shadow box on the mantlepiece. 

Archaeologists of today care less about acquiring treasures and more about learning about the lives of people. At Crossroads this year, we are focused on “foodways” – the ways people gathered, stored, cooked and disposed of food on Crossroads’ property. That will provide a window on our cultural heritage spanning several thousand years. We are particularly interested in the challenging times when people learned to adapt to a changing climate or conditions which presumably also led to changes in their societies, diet, trade and even their spirituality.

So, how, you may ask, can small, chipped stones, pottery sherds and chunks of partially burned wood reveal the stories of past cultures. 

Well, once the artifacts have been underearth at our dig, our archaeology team cleans, sorts, and examines them under a powerful microscope. Selected specimens will be sent off to be analyzed using the following, specialized and high-tech scientific methods.

Appropriate to our foodways theme, our team includes a specialist in ethnobotany who studies the organic materials – seeds, nutshells, fish scales, corn cakes, bones, shells, teeth – to determine what made up the diet of people during any given time. 

Using an electron microscope, trained researchers can look at the edges of stone tools and hunting weapons to examine use-wear marks to determine how and on what materials the tools were used answering questions such as: Was it a scraper? Was it used to scrape fresh hides? Process meat? Make clothing?

Using technologies from medical science, archaeologists use blood protein analysis to determine, with precision to genus and sometimes even to species, the prey animals of various cultures.

Ceramic analysis will determine the source of clay (local or traded) and, because ceramics were not glazed, pots and storage vessels sometimes absorbed oils and liquids which also helps us learn even more about “foodways.”

Organic material samples can be used for carbon dating so we can determine when people lived beside the estuary.

As part of the Archaeological Experience, Crossroads will be offering interpretive tours of the Hans and Bertha Hanson Home. Tours are free and open to the public, though donations are welcome.

So why do we care about environmental history and archaeology? First, we acknowledge and honor all people who lived or worked on the land we now steward, and we endeavor to learn how humans have interacted with nature in both positive and detrimental ways through the centuries. With this knowledge, we can make informed decisions on how best to manage and restore the land for future generations.

And speaking of future generations, Crossroads Junior Nature Club, a six-session program for pre-school children, will begin meeting on October 27. For information and to register, please visit the Crossroads at Big Creek website.

Folks who want to help in our restoration efforts are encouraged to participate in our Pollinator Pals and Habitat Healers programs which will run through the end of October.

Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve is located at 2041 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay. Crossroads is a 501(c)3 organization committed to offering education, conducting research and land restoration, and providing outdoor experiences to inspire environmental stewardship in learners of all ages and from all backgrounds. We welcome your support. 

Thursday, September 28

8:30 a.m. Pollinator Pals

If you like to garden and are interested in giving our native pollinators a helping hand, Crossroads at Big Creek could use your help! Volunteers are “editing” unwanted plants which will be replaced by native species. We provide the equipment. Meet at the Collins Learning Center, 2041 Michigan St., Sturgeon Bay.

10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Archaeological Dig Public Outreach at The Cove Estuary

Learners of all ages are invited to observe or take part in our Fall Archaeological Dig. We provide gloves, instructions and supervision. Please park in the lot at 817 South 20th Place. Free and open to the public.  

Friday, September 30

10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Archaeological Dig Public Outreach at The Cove Estuary

Learners of all ages are invited to observe or take part in our Fall Archaeological Dig under the supervision of a team of professional archaeologists. Learn about the foodways of the Woodland Era people who are thought to have lived, at least seasonally, beside the estuary. We provide gloves, instructions and supervision. Please park in the lot at 817 South 20th Place. Free and open to the public.   

2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Tours of the Hanson House

Enjoy a free tour of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House to learn about life in the 1880s. No reservations needed. The Hanson House is located at 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay. Please park across Utah Street in The Cove Preserve parking area, 817 South 20th Place, so as not to detract from the historical character of the area. 

Saturday, September 30

9:00 a.m. Habitat Healers

Help heal the earth! Volunteers of all ages are invited to help with our land restoration efforts. Wear clothing and footgear that can get dirty and wet and bring a water bottle. Instruction, equipment, and gloves provided along with cookies and lemonade at the end. No need to register in advance and all ages are welcome. Meet at the Workshop at 2041 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay. 


Sunday, October 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. Tours of the Hanson House

Enjoy a free tour of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House to learn about life in the 1880s. Hands-on activities for kids. No reservations needed. The Hanson House is located at 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay. Please park across Utah Street in The Cove Preserve parking area so as not to damage construction materials, impede progress or detract from the historical character of the area.

Monday, October 2

10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Archaeological Dig Public Outreach at The Cove Estuary

Learners of all ages are invited to observe or take part in our Fall Archaeological Dig under the supervision of a team of professional archaeologists. Learn about the foodways of the Woodland Era people who, we believe, lived, at least seasonally, beside the estuary. We provide gloves, instructions and supervision. Please part in the lot at 817 South 20thPlace. Free and open to the public. 

Tuesday, October 3 

10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Archaeological Dig Public Outreach at The Cove Estuary

Learners of all ages are invited to observe or take part in our Fall Archaeological Dig under the supervision of a team of professional archaeologists. Learn about the foodways of the Woodland Era people who, we believe, lived, at least seasonally, beside the estuary. We provide gloves, instructions and supervision. Please part in the lot at 817 South 20thPlace. Free and open to the public. 

6:30 p.m. Crossroads Bird Club

Birders, novice to experienced, are invited to Bird Club the first Tuesday of each month. We meet at the Collins Learning Center, but if weather cooperates, bring your binoculars and come dressed for an outing. Free and open to the public. Meet at the Collins Learning Center, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon Bay.

Wednesday, October 4

10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Archaeological Dig Public Outreach at The Cove Estuary

Learners of all ages are invited to observe or take part in our Fall Archaeological Dig under the supervision of a team of professional archaeologists. Learn about the foodways of the Woodland Era people who, we believe, lived, at least seasonally, beside the estuary. We provide gloves, instructions and supervision. Please part in the lot at 817 South 20thPlace. Free and open to the public. 

Slow down for curds and kids

Trips to attend school or grab a bag of cheese curds could become safer in the future thanks to a new traffic pattern and a lower speed limit. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Door County Highway Department, and Renard’s Cheese have been working to make the intersection of Wisconsin 42/57 and Cloverleaf Road a safer one to navigate. The DOT will be changing the intersection to a right-in/right-out/left-in configuration, providing protected right-turn lanes onto Highway 42/57 and protected left-hand turn lanes on Cloverleaf Road. You will not be able to cross the intersection to turn left on Highway 42/57 under the configuration. One stop sign will be removed and two more will be added as a part of the project. Mark Kantola from the Wisconsin DOT says there have been a number of accidents at the intersection over the years and he is hopeful that the new pattern will help.

As a part of the change, Door County Highway Commissioner Thad Ash is looking to lower the speed limit on County DK, which runs alongside Highway 42/57 near Renards, to 45 miles per hour from Stone Road to Stevenson Pier Road. The Door County Board of Supervisors will vote to approve the change at its meeting on Tuesday.


Former Sturgeon Bay conservation warden honored by DNR

You may remember the 2022 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden from his time serving the Sturgeon Bay area. The DNR announced on Friday that it has recognized Lt. Bryan Lockman as its 2022 DNR Conservation Warden of the Year Award, also known as the Haskell Noyes Efficiency Award. It is the highest award that a conservation warden can receive in the state, recognizing their ability to balance enforcement, education, and community involvement. Lockman, who has served the DNR for the last 22 years, has served in Sturgeon Bay, New London, Wisconsin Rapids, and Stevens Point during his tenure. His current role involves him leading a group of wardens. Capt. Ben Treml and Lt. Warden Jon Scharbarth honored Lockman in the DNR’s announcement, which you can find below.



  • Capt. Ben Treml, Lockman’s supervisor, says community policing is Lockman’s foundation. “Bryan is thorough on investigations related to environmental complaints and violations, and his humble and caring demeanor helps him connect with hunters, anglers, trappers and landowners,” said Treml. “That combination allows him to enforce the law while building trust with the public.”
  • Lockman is also held in high regard by his colleagues. “Bryan’s integrity cannot be compromised. He is a genuine, great person who is not just an incredible teammate and work partner, but an amazing asset and resource,” said Lt. Warden Jon Scharbarth. “His empathetic communication style and commonsense approach puts people at ease. There is no one I would rather have by my side in a tough situation.”

Government resurrects free mail-order COVID test program

If you are worried about COVID wrecking your fall and winter plans, the federal government has restarted a program to give you peace of mind.


The Biden Administration announced Thursday that it was dedicating $600 million to get free COVID-19 tests into the hands of Americans. The government halted the free test program and insurance providers stopped covering the costs of over-the-counter tests when the federal emergency designation expired earlier this year. The announcement comes as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have started to slowly increase in recent weeks. According to National Public Radio, COVID-related hospitalizations have peaked in January each of the last three years after many holiday celebrations have concluded. Americans will be able to request up to four free COVID-19 rapid tests per household beginning on September 25th. 


The announcement is also on the heels of the announcement that an updated COVID-19 vaccine is available to those interested. While some people may be able to get it for free through Medicaid, Medicare, or their private insurance providers, others may have to pay. According to Door County Public Health, the newest formulation from Pfizer could cost you $120. According to Reuters, U.S. officials are encouraging everyone ages six months and up to get the newest vaccine, which contradicts the World Health Organization’s recommendation that only the elderly and certain at-risk groups need the booster if they have already received more than three doses.


Senator Jacque announces Senate Scholars applications

State Sen. André Jacque (R-De Pere) was proud to announce earlier this week that the Wisconsin State Senate will again offer the Senate Scholar Program next year, and urged 1st District students to apply by the November 17, 2023 deadline.


“The Senate Scholar Program is a leading initiative designed to challenge Wisconsin’s best students,” Sen. Jacque said.  “It is a truly unique, hands-on educational experience for high school juniors and seniors interested in the state legislative process.” 


The Senate Scholar Program consists of an advanced government curriculum that includes classroom instruction, roundtable discussion sections, and a lab component.  Experts teach Scholars about constituent relations, research and development of legislation, and bill drafting.  Scholars also engage in roundtable discussions with legislative support agency directors and staff, media, and lobbyists throughout the week, resulting in further insight into all facets of the legislative process. 


Sen. Jacque said the program culminates in a mock committee hearing that includes testimony from experts and members of the public. 


“Scholars have the opportunity to put all they have learned into action after staffing the Senate Floor during session and watching debate on legislation,” Sen Jacque said.  “Scholars draft their own bills and amendments, form their own committee, and elect committee leadership.”


Sen. Jacque said one student from each of the 33 Senate Districts may participate in the week-long program in Madison.


“Although the program is rigorous, fun evening activities are planned for participants,” Sen. Jacque said.  “Senate Scholars stay near the state Capitol at the Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison.”


Applications need to be received no later than November 17, 2023.  A digital copy of the application and more information can be found at: 


“Any interested students who have questions about the Senate Scholar program should feel free to contact my office,” Sen. Jacque said. 

Street crack sealing starts next week in Sturgeon Bay

You may want to be prepared to take a little more time to get around the streets of Sturgeon Bay starting next week. On Monday, an asphalt sealer contracted by the City of Sturgeon Bay will begin work on Project 2303 – Street Crack Sealing Program. City Engineer Chad Shefchik says this project involves crack sealing on most roadways and parking lots throughout the city. He expects that affected roadways will remain open to traffic while work is being done, but parking may be restricted as the contractor can complete the work.



Traffic may be down to one lane for a short period on the various streets as the roadways are being sealed. Shefchik asks that you try to avoid the roadway being impacted for the safety of the public and the installation crews. You can find the labeled maps that show the affected roadways and the approximate order in which they will be resealed here.

Door County ready to welcome football fans

Better late than never, but you should see some football fans squeezing in a side trip this weekend as the Green Bay Packers host their first home game of the season on Sunday. Destination Door County’s Jon Jarosh points to the uniqueness of this season’s schedule as to why the peninsula could see more people at typically untraditional times. It is only the eighth time in franchise history that the Packers have started a season in Green Bay in Week 3 or later according to the organization’s Dope Sheet, with the last occurrence coming in 2016. It was a year later that the Packers added more activities surrounding the game to help get people to the area earlier if they were coming in from out of town. Jarosh says the combination of the Packers’ Kickoff Weekend festivities and two games in a seven-day stretch could help people decide to extend their stays or find time to visit Door County.

After next Thursday’s game against the Detroit Lions, the Packers will not host another game until October 28th, catching the potential tail end of the leaves changing colors but missing Door County’s two busiest weekends of Egg Harbor Pumpkin Patch and Sister Bay Fall Fest. Jarosh says that could set the stage for a bigger shoulder season for Door County businesses with five home games occurring at Lambeau Field after November 1st.

Patience key with apple picking

While the sight of a tree full of apples might be tempting for you to pick, apple growers say even better tastes can come to those who wait depending on the variety. Orchards across Door and Kewaunee counties are open now with both apples that are pre-picked or still on the tree for you to pick yourself. Many trees are full of apples to the point that the fruit itself might be a little smaller than in other years because of the vast number of them hanging on the branches. Before you pick a whole bag full of apples, Hillside Apples owner Bill Roethle says to slow down and talk to the orchard owner for an idea of which ones of the dozens of different varieties are right for the picking when you visit.

While most apples are ready to be picked between mid-September to mid-October, the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association says there are some varieties like Granny Smith, Yellow Bellflower, and Winesap that are not typically ready until late October. Roethle says the later the apples are ready, the more likely it is that you will be able to store them.

Michigan Street Bridge to close for a week in October

You can start planning your commutes through Sturgeon Bay ahead of time after the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced that the city would be down a bridge to open the month of October.


Sturgeon Bay City Engineer Chad Shefchik shared the details on Thursday stating that the Michigan Street Bridge would be closed from October 2nd to October 5th to vehicles and pedestrians. Crews have to remove the concrete on both leaves of the bridge so repair work can be done on the structure’s overhead counterweight.


The Maple/Oregon Street Bridge and the Bayview Bridge are alternate routes across the water for people motoring around Sturgeon Bay ahead of Columbus Day weekend.

Staffing as big of a concern as building for potential Kewaunee County jail

While the Kewaunee County Board moves ahead with the planning for the potential Kewaunee County jail project, Sheriff Matt Joski is also worried about how they are going to staff it.


Law enforcement is a lot like other industries coming out of the pandemic when it comes to staffing. According to a Police Executive Research Forum survey, there has been a steady staffing decrease in recent years. Resignations and retirements have outpaced the number of officers and deputies being brought on board during a time when the number of qualified applicants is also down. It is not good timing for the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department, which has been able to nail down some efficiencies but will still have to hire some new people to staff the jail whenever it gets built. Joski says it is a challenge that everyone is facing, but one they will have to figure out.

Like other places of employment in the public and private sectors, Joski says the department is hiring so it can operate its current facilities in a safe manner. You can read more on this topic below.



It has been a few articles since I have provided an update on our jail project. Most are aware that in late July, the County Board was to vote on the acceptance of the plan as well as the financing for the project. While the acceptance of the plan was approved, the financing did not get approved as the bids for the project were substantially above what was estimated. So, what has transpired since that vote?


In early August, there was communication with a firm based in Iowa that had experience in building similar Jail facilities as what we are pursuing. In an effort to better understand this new approach, Myself along with members of my staff and members of the County Board did travel to a facility in Iowa to see for ourselves what opportunities this approach would provide.


While there were many differences to their communities as well as varying operational realities, there was great value in gaining a different perspective. At the recent Jail Study Committee meeting, there was consensus to move forward in a working relationship with this firm, which will now go to the full County Board for approval.


As the path related to the physical aspect of this project moves along, there is another piece which I have shared in past that requires some renewed attention. This piece is related to the operational realities. Over the past eight years of our planning, we have discussed our current staffing levels, as well as the unique aspect of utilizing our staff as Jailer/ Dispatchers. Although we would have liked to split these two very different and very demanding roles, as part of this project, it became evident very early on that we would still have some overlap so as to recognize cost savings in our new environment. Even with those overlaps, it was determined that we would need to add five new positions to our operations. This is where the concerns are starting to develop.


Nationally, we continue to see a decrease in the number of men and women who are pursuing careers in law enforcement. Here at the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department, we too struggle to recruit at the rate we have in the past. 30 plus applications have dwindled to 10. Testing of 15 have dwindled to 3, and interviews of 12 have dwindled to 1. Although we are fortunate to enjoy a very high retention rate, we face the same realities of resignations, and retirements that have been with us throughout history.


At our recent Public Safety Committee meeting as well as at the recent Jail Study Committee meeting, this reality was shared so as to provide an awareness to an important piece of this project. After much discussion, it was proposed that we continue to move forward cautiously, tracking our ability to sustain adequate staffing levels for this new facility. This is an important factor in moving forward as there is very little flexibility in staffing any proposed new facility.             


Although our existing facility has numerous deficiencies and limitations, the one redeeming characteristic is the minimal staffing we are able to function with. Again, this is information that needs to be considered, and we will continue to do our best to recruit and retain the highest quality staff that we can, regardless of which facility we are operating.



To that point, we have just posted an employment opportunity for the Jailer/Dispatcher position. If you or someone you know would like to embark upon and a rewarding career of public service, this may be the opportunity! Please go to where this posting is available.


While the building piece of this project has received the bulk of attention thus far, our ability to operate that facility in a safe manner, greatly overshadows all else. The biggest piece of those operations are the men and women who have devoted themselves to this unique aspect of law enforcement. We are grateful to those currently filling those roles, and excited to welcome those who will take on this rewarding challenge in the future!


Special session on childcare falls silent

A special session of the Wisconsin Legislature that was supposed to discuss the state’s childcare and worker shortage concerns was done within minutes on Wednesday, following the same fate as past special sessions called by Governor Tony Evers. The session was called by the Democratic governor to discuss a $1 billion proposal that would have kept the Child Care Counts program that has kept many facilities afloat since the pandemic permanent, created a paid family leave program, and put more towards the University of Wisconsin system programs. Evers called out Republicans for not filling out the nearly 30-question survey that he sent out last week, asking for all members of the Wisconsin Legislature to go on the record with their stance on the issues regarding workforce issues such as childcare and paid family leave. It was a likelihood predicted by Rep. Joel Kitchens shortly after the special session was announced, calling it a political stunt and adding he would rather have a conversation about it with the governor.


Wisconsin Republicans announced their plans to address child care in the state earlier this month, allowing parents to set up a pre-tax child care reimbursement account similar to ones currently used for health care, the creation of a loan fund for childcare facilities that wish to make upgrades, and loosen restrictions on adult staff-to-children ratios and the age of assistant child care providers from 17 to 16. Karen Corekin-DeLaMer from Northern Door Children’s Center in Sister Bay and United Way Childcare Coordinator Molly Gary both agreed that the childcare reimbursement account bill was a good idea if it was made available to all Wisconsin families. The other bills were met with less enthusiasm, especially when it came to increasing class sizes.

According to the Associated Press, Governor Evers called the Republican plans mostly ridiculous, but there might be some aspects he would approve. According to Forward Analytics, childcare costs average between 18 and 36 percent of a family’s income and the tuition for two kids at a childcare facility per year is more than what it is to send them to UW-Madison. The same study also showcased another area of concern: the number of childcare workers has declined 26 percent since 2010.

Baileys Harbor readies for Autumnfest Saturday

 Another Door County festival will kick off the fall season this Saturday with the annual Baileys Harbor Autumnfest. Baileys Harbor Community Association Director Cindy Krowas says the popular ”pinups and pistons” car show will be featured again, although there will be no pin-ups this year. The car show is planning on having about 100 entries again this year.  Krowas shares details on what people can look forward to at the festival. 


With Kendall Park temporarily closed, the festivities will be held at the town hall with live music featuring Ann Lynn Ferris and the Wheels from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m

Muse Sturgeon Bay breaks ground on music school/venue

Over 50 community members celebrated the groundbreaking of a new music school at the vacant lot by the corner of North Third Avenue and Jefferson Street on Wednesday morning.  Five speakers spoke about the Muse Sturgeon Bay development which will house lesson rooms and a performance center on the main floor, and host 11 studio apartments on the second floor.  The developer, Shirley Weese Young, has rehabbed several other downtown properties in the city over the past few years.  She shares the inspiration behind putting together this latest project.


The two-story brick building will also include two public restrooms accessible from the outside of the building.

The Muse Sturgeon Bay is a non-profit that entered into a development agreement with plans for completion by June 2024. 


(top photo:   Dave Utzinger, Artistic Director, Kaira Rouer, Executive Director,  Sturgeon Bay Mayor David Ward, Board President Gary Ciepluch, Craig Cornell, building contractor, Developer Shirley Weese Young)



(Muse rendering submitted)






Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding begins new vessel construction

You will see the construction of a new 288-foot vessel on the Sturgeon Bay waterfront being built over the next couple of years.  Dozens of community members and dignitaries were on hand Wednesday morning for the “First Cut” of steel of a new Service Operation Vessel (SOV) being built at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding (FBS). The HAV 832 SOV will be used to transport technicians to service the Dominion Energy wind farm off the coast of Virginia.  Vice President and General Manager Jan Allman says the wind farm industry is growing and the project will hopefully be the first of many projects of this type for Bay Ship.  




Fincantieri Marine Group contracted for the construction of the vessel with CREST Wind earlier this year as part of a joint venture with Crowley and ESVAGT.  Crowley is a U.S. maritime, energy, and logistics solution company that works on the offshore wind market, while ESVAGT is a Denmark-based leader of SOV service in Europe. The barge is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year with the barge sailing out in early 2025. 




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