Northern Sky Theater cancels fall season

Another one of Door County’s performing arts organizations has decided to cancel their fall season. Northern Sky Theater in Fish Creek announced Thursday that the 2020 fall indoor season at the new Gould Theater would not go on as planned.  The shows “Naked Radio” in September as well as “And if Elected” in October were the two scheduled performances.  Director of Development & Public Relations Holly Feldman says the difficult decision to cancel the fall season was based on concerns over the pandemic and a limited seating capacity that would have financial ramifications.  She says the Northern Sky Theater is able to take consolation in the fact that the new 250-seat Gould Theater was utilized last fall.



The company was to celebrate their 50th year of performing in the outdoor setting in Peninsula State Park and the 30th year as a professional company. Peninsula Players announced earlier this week that its fall season was also canceled. 





News Release:


Northern Sky Theater Announces Cancellation of 2020 Fall Season

FISH CREEK, WI - Northern Sky Theater, in Door County, Wisconsin, has announced that it will cancel its 2020 fall indoor season in the new Gould Theater. The company hoped to present Naked Radio in September and October, as well as And If Elected in October.


The company cited ongoing concerns regarding the pandemic, limits on gatherings, union restrictions for its professional company of actors, and the welfare of its large volunteer base of support. The decision to cancel comes after the company analyzed numerous scenarios, including the financial ramifications of socially-distanced seating, which would limit attendance to just 25% of Gould Theater's 250-seat house.


"We attempted to hold off as long as possible in making this difficult decision to allow time to gather more information and to give the performing arts industry a chance to work through some of the parameters that would allow for a safe and enjoyable experience for both our company members and our audience," stated Dave Maier, managing director. "It now has become clear that, just as for most public gathering venues, this guidance and go-ahead will not be available until after we would have scheduled the start of rehearsals. Making this decision now also allows us to more fully embrace our virtual season and advance our new works process going on behind the scenes - the lifeblood of Northern Sky."


Northern Sky recently announced a virtual season that includes an upcoming virtual concert on July 17 in honor of outgoing board chair, Mary Seeberg; a performance of music and spoken word called The Healing Session, hosted by actress Lachrisa Grandberry on July 26; and their Northern SkyLights series, a selection of highlights from past performances. The three-tiered virtual season also includes a weekly live presence through Facebook and Instagram with The Jeff and Katie Show as well as their Northern Sky At Home series through email and social media.


"Although this decision weighs heavily on our staff and board, we have been buoyed by the support we've seen from our fans through our virtual series," stated artistic director, Jeff Herbst. "And we'll need that support going forward more than ever, as will our cast and crew. The continued financial support from our patrons will not only ensure we can keep the new works coming but will also help us support the livelihood of our artists."


The company was poised to celebrate several anniversaries in 2020, including 50 years of performing in its outdoor home in Peninsula State Park, 30 years as a professional company, and its first full season in the new Gould Theater.  



Land trust properties seeing more visitors

People looking for something to do in the area have been able to stumble onto Door County Land Trust properties in high numbers this year. Door County Land Trust Executive Director Tom Clay cites its Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and Bayshore Blufflands Parks as some of its most popular properties this year. Many others are checking out the newly acquired Pebble Beach in Sister Bay despite not having all of its amenities in place yet. With so many other non-profits worthy of donations during this time, he is happy with the support their operations have received over the last few months.

The Door County Land Trust is currently working with some property owners on potential conservation easements as well as lining up more acquisitions in the Ephraim-Gibraltar Swamp and Washington Island areas.


Photo courtesy of Door County Land Trust website

Hunter education courses ready to begin

Those hoping to bag their first trophy buck this fall can start looking forward to hunter safety education courses to begin locally soon. Courses had been postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, but a lawsuit filed in June forced the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to restart the in-person educational events effective July 13th. DNR Hunter Education Administrator Jon King says the courses will be limited to 50 participants and take the necessary precautions to protect the instructors and the students.

King recommends being flexible with where you are willing to take the course just in case capacity limits are met. While Door and Kewaunee Counties work to schedule their own classes, Manitowoc County has a hunter safety course scheduled to begin on September 2nd.

Sheriff, demonstrator share Black Lives Matters thoughts

For Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski and Kewaunee High School alumna Savannah Gardner, the quest for a better relationship between law enforcement and minorities began with a conversation. Gardner, now a student at UW-Milwaukee, reached out to Joski after organizing Black Lives Matters protests last month. She says it is important to have these types of conversations in areas like Kewaunee that lack a lot in diversity.

Joski appreciates the peaceful dialogue Gardner has started in the community and hopes it is something that continues.

Gardner plans on holding other peaceful Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer near Kewaunee’s Harbor Park, including this Saturday.




I hope that everyone had an enjoyable and memorable Independence Day weekend! I know I have said it many times, but it is worth repeating. We are so fortunate to live in such a great nation with the many freedoms and opportunities that we so often take for granted. Having said that, I understand fully that we are not a perfect nation, just as we are not perfect human beings, but we should strive each and every day to better ourselves and even more importantly our country so as to bring both a step closer to that perfection we seek.


       Too often we see the events unfolding throughout our country and we lose hope thinking that we here in Kewaunee County cannot make a difference. This could not be further from the truth. We tend to think that mending our communities requires some elevated academic status or financial resources when all it takes is a sense of common decency and humility. Just as in any journey we must begin with the first step, and in the journey to heal our country, the first step needs to be open and respectful dialogue.


        Recently I was contacted by a young lady who has been in our local paper for her efforts in raising awareness regarding the ongoing struggles of minority groups in our nation and the tragedies which have unfolded involving interaction with Law Enforcement. Her name is Savannah Gardner, and below is the first of what I hope will be a series of questions and answers to help bring a better understanding to the work we do in law enforcement and provide a bridge for conversations which need to take place regarding the many aspects of our nation’s current culture and how each of them have lead us to our current reality.

        1. What are the criteria to have different policies or tactics for arrest across police departments? (No-knock entries, chokeholds, etc.)


I cannot speak to the policies or procedures of other agencies , but we very seldom seek no-knock warrants from our Circuit Court Judge. The only time these would be utilized is to prevent the destruction of evidence, or if there was reliable information regarding weapons in the residence which would compromise officer safety. In regards to choke holds, we have never have, nor would we ever utilize such tactics. All aspects of our training is in compliance with the standards set forth by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and their Training and Standards Bureau.

2. Would you consider the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department a "community" police structure? Do you think this should be implemented more across the US? 

I began my career in the early nineties when Community Policing was embraced by most agencies, unfortunately many have not continued to prioritize Community Policing in their mission as Public Servants, and a return to those principles are exactly what we need more of in our Country. While training and technology play a strong role in maintaining an agency which is supported by their communities, there is no substitute for the trust and confidence that can only be created and maintained through meaningful relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.


3. What are you or your coworkers doing to alleviate racial profiling?

The best way to eliminate racial profiling as well as any other behavior which minimizes the value of another human being is to first and foremost recruit the best men and women to serve our communities. We take great strides to conduct thorough background investigations on each and every one of our potential candidates and when necessary, eliminate them from consideration if any areas of concern arise into their ability to be fair and impartial. Each contact that is made by our staff is reviewed and if the level of professionalism we expect is not met, corrective action would be taken.


4. How do you hold your fellow police officers accountable? 

In all aspects of the duties performed by our Officers, any violation of policy, procedure, or state statute would be reviewed. If a potential violation was deemed significant, an investigation would be conducted by and external agency to maintain the upmost in transparency and legitimacy. Just as in any other profession, we apply progressive discipline. This means that we follow a disciplinary process and the outcome of that process could range from an informal counseling up to and including termination.


5. Do you think the police would benefit from a few of the clauses of "defunding"? Meaning, more specially trained professionals for nonviolent response calls, redirecting a portion of the police budget towards education, community development, healthcare, etc.? 

For over a decade, we have collaborated with our counterparts at the Human Services Department in an effort to more effectively serve our community. What this means is that while we may have to respond to an incident which involves violent behavior, once it is determined that the behavior is due to a mental health crisis or a possible addiction issue, we then work together with those respective disciplines to find the best resource for that person at that time. We also have adopted a culture of Trauma Informed Care. This philosophy allows those who serve the common good of our community to take into consideration not just the act which lead to our interaction, but the underlying cause of that act which may involve a mental health condition, PTSD, as well Substance abuse or addiction. These types of calls are a significant challenge and greatly draw on our resources. While the care they receive will ultimately be provided by a skilled health care worker, we will always have a role in the initial call for two primary reasons. The first is scene safety, the second is limited professional mental health resources. This being said, all of the staff at the Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department have undergone "Crisis Intervention Team Training". What this provides our officers is the ability to see past the behavior and look for the cause of the behavior. This training has assisted us in effectively responding, and more importantly de-escalating heightened levels of anxiety at the time of the call.


               I wish to thank Savannah for her work in raising awareness and the opportunity to answer her questions as it relates to the work we do here at the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department. While I am very proud of each and every Deputy, and the work that we do each and every day, we realize that our success is dependent on the support of the residents which we serve. I look forward to continuing this conversation of awareness and hope that we can broaden the discussion to other aspects of our culture which must also be addressed to bring about positive change. Stay Safe, and be the Change!

Schools planning for in-person instruction

School districts in Door and Kewaunee Counties are hopeful to have most if not all of their instruction in the classroom this fall. Planning for what that may look like is still ongoing as recommendations from the local, state, and federal government become clearer. Sturgeon Bay School District officials reached out to parents, teachers and students last week to outline their goal to have in-person instruction five days a week while also being flexible and implementing as many safety precautions as possible. Superintendent Dan Tjernagel says parents have appreciated the transparency.

Tjernagel says it will be important to communicate with the community as situations surrounding the pandemic and accompanying guidelines change over the next few weeks ahead of their September 1st start date.

Drivers asked to report pavement heat buckling

The heatwave that's slowly moving through Door and Kewaunee counties is causing some road pavement to buckle.  Highway departments have been able to repair the few sections impacted by buckling so drivers can travel without damage to their vehicles.  Door County Highway Commissioner John Kolodziej says concrete roads are at most risk of buckling and drivers need to be aware of changing conditions.




Some pavement damage due to buckling cannot be repaired until extremely hot weather passes through.  Kolodziej says in those cases signs will be put up to detour traffic around the damaged sections.

Sturgeon Bay establishing new star-studded event

Starting on Saturday, the east side of Sturgeon Bay will take on a new look with the debut of the Under the Stars Night Market. Marketing Director Carly Sarkis says the concept is similar to what is done for other events like the Harvest Fest, but it will differ in its execution due to COVID-19.


Parking and traffic will be restricted on Third Avenue from Michigan Street to Jefferson Street, starting at 4:00 PM. The market will be five to nine in the evening every Saturday through August. In addition to Third Avenue businesses, expect to see some stands from establishments located throughout the rest of Sturgeon Bay participating as well. Protocols are in place to ensure that the event is handicap accessible.


The Ridges Sanctuary seeks new executive director

The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor is in the market for a new leader.  That comes after Executive Director Steve Leonard announced he'll be stepping down in August to pursue his masters degree in public health.  During his 14-years overseeing the sanctuary, Leonard helped with the addition of 200-acres to the preserve, the construction of the Cook-Albert Fuller Nature Center in Baileys Harbor and a 1/3 mile ADA accessible boardwalk.  As the search for a new leader begins, Board President Tony Fiorato says Leonard set a very high standard for his successor.




Steve Leonard also helped initiate a long-term research project on native orchid populations in and around the Ridges Sanctuary.


*Photo of Tony Fiorato courtesy of the Ridges Sanctuary website

Supervisors to discuss masks as COVID-19 cases tick up

Wednesday afternoon saw another increase in reported COVID-19 cases for both Door and Kewaunee Counties, but at a slower pace than in recent weeks. Door announced two new positive results to bring the total to 52. There were more recoveries, though, which lowers the number of active cases down to eight. Kewaunee’s total is up one to 68, with active cases remaining stable at 10. Incubation times for the disease can range upwards of two weeks, so the full effects of the Independence Day holiday are not yet known.

The Door County Board of Supervisors is having a special meeting on July 10th at 9 a.m. to discuss whether or not a countywide measure requiring masks or other face coverings should be instituted. Dane County was the first in the state to require a mask in all indoor spaces except for restaurants.



Hit-and-run incident in Sturgeon Bay early Wednesday

A car parallel parked on Delaware Street near Sunset Park in Sturgeon Bay was struck Wednesday around 3:00 AM. The driver of the auto who collided with the damaged vehicle then fled the scene. Laura Murray, whose red Toyota Corolla is potentially totaled from the incident, is asking her neighbors in the 300 block to provide any door cam footage that could help identify the offending driver to Sturgeon Bay police. Lieutenant Investigator Clint Henry says that a hit-and-run crime that involves only property damage does not rise to the level of a felony but still has significant financial consequences.


Murray says that the impact was so great that both passenger side tires were pushed up and over the curb from her car’s initial position in the street.



ADRC frozen meals program gaining in popularity

With in-person lunches still prohibited at all Door County ADRC locations, seniors in need of a meal are turning to several alternative methods. Curbside service is available as long as the food is ordered the day before. Director Jake Erickson says that sites outside of Sturgeon Bay have added distribution dates, but there has still been a dropoff from normal levels seen when people were able to convene. Meals on Wheels is picking up some of the slack, but not all. Erickson says the most growth has been seen in the frozen meals program.


ADRC’s Sturgeon Bay campus is open, but capacity is limited. The fitness center and computer terminals are available except when lunches are handed out from 11:30a-12n.


*Photo courtesy of the Door County ADRC website


Friction developing in Sister Bay over protests

Black Lives Matter protests have taken hold most notably in Sister Bay the past seven weeks, and there are signs that discord is beginning to grow between residents, visitors and the activists. A video featuring a man making a gun from his thumb and index finger and pulling the imaginary trigger was investigated by the Door County Sheriff’s Office earlier this week. Village President Dave Lienau says he hopes that kind of behavior ends immediately and reiterates the right of the protestors to assemble peaceably. Lienau does not know how long they will last.


Sister Bay foot traffic is returning towards normal levels. Crowds, heat, and COVID-19 strains could conceivably create an atmosphere ripe for an altercation the longer the protests continue.


Feds find funds to repair Algoma pier entryway

Some much needed and desired repair work on Algoma's south pier entryway will happen in the near future.  That's because the City of Algoma will be receiving $50,000 in federal funds to repair erosion damage caused by high water levels on Lake Michigan.  Algoma Mayor Wayne Schmidt says while repairs are needed on other sections of the south pier, the new funding will allow entryway renovation work to be done this year.




The repair work on the south pier entry will be done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the pier. No timeline for that work has yet been scheduled.

Guide to watering plants in extreme heat

Green thumbs in Door and Kewaunee County are dealing with the first substantial dry spell of the summer along with scorching hot temperatures.  Todd Maas from Maas Floral and Greenhouse in Sturgeon Bay says the heat and winds can dry out plants quickly.  He says plants and young shrubs should be watered at least twice a day during the heatwave.  Flowering plants can lose their blooms quickly if not properly watered.



Maas recommends early morning and early evening watering to maximize the amount of moisture the plant will retain along with mulching.  Fertilizing on a regular basis is a good idea but not necessarily during a hot spell. 


Sturgeon Bay Police Chief retiring

After just celebrating his 40th anniversary as a law enforcement officer in Sturgeon Bay, Police Chief Arleigh Porter announced his plan to retire at the Sturgeon Bay Common Council meeting Tuesday evening.  Porter spoke during public comments and expressed his appreciation to the city he has served over many years.



Porter will officially retire on October 2nd.  He became the Sturgeon Bay police chief in 2010, taking over from Dan Trelka.  You can listen to Police Chief Arleigh Porter's entire comments addressing the Sturgeon Bay Common Council below. 




Ahnapee State Trail detoured

A flooded trail along County E in Kewaunee has caused a slight detour for hikers and bikers on the Ahnapee State Trail.  Kewaunee County Parks Director Dave Myers says flooding across the road has affected the trailhead route.  He says the detour is not a major one.



Myers says he has noticed a lot more people utilizing the trails this year than in the past.  The trail is typically accessed in the City of Kewaunee by the World’s Tallest Grandfather Clock.  Hopes are to have the trail fully reopened when the water recedes.    


Peninsula Players cancels Autumn Shows

America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and a Door County landmark will not have an autumn season this year. Peninsula Players Theatre announced Tuesday that the fall performance of Richard Dresser’s "Rounding Third” is canceled. Managing Director Brian Kelsey says economic factors and safety concerns for artists, volunteers, patrons, employees, and the community, led to the difficult decision. He notes that other factors played a role.



The 85th summer season was canceled back in April. The last time any Peninsula Player Theatre productions were canceled dates back to World War II. The 2021 season will deliver the shows that were planned for this year. 

COVID-19 Update:  Door County up one case, Kewaunee County up three 

The trend of newly reported cases of COVID-19 in Door and Kewaunee Counties continued Tuesday.  One additional confirmed case in Door County brings the total to 50, while Kewaunee County reflected three more positive tests to reach 67 cases.   Active cases in Door County stands at six, and Kewaunee County dropped to nine.  Local public health officials are strongly urging people to wear masks, social distance, and avoid any large gatherings in public.  You can find the complete COVID-19 updated numbers with this story below.





Bass Pro Tour to boost local economy

Eighty professional anglers will be taking to the waters of Sturgeon Bay this week as part of the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour Series.   Major League Fishing scheduled the final event for the year in Sturgeon Bay last month when a location in Vermont could not host the tournament.  Senior Director of Events and Partnerships Michael Mulone says the six-day tournament starts Friday with two pre-fish days scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday.  He says the economic impact in the area will be huge.



The tournament has a different format than most with a catch,  a real-time weigh, and immediate release that judges on the total weight of all fish caught.  Mulone adds that the winner will net $100,000 and the top 40 anglers of the season will move on to the Redcrest Championships next February in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  


(above photo of Kevin VanDam courtesy of Major League Fishing)  




At 29, Jordan Lee is the second youngest angler on the Bass Pro Tour and currently sits in first place going into the final Stage hosted by Sturgeon Bay.  

Photo credit: Garrett Dixon (above)




MLF Pro Dustin Connell currently sits in 7th place coming into Stage Five of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour.


Photo credit: Josh Gassman/Major League Fishing (above)



Door Shakespeare planning for virtual fall show

It will not be like sitting outside at Bjorklunden, but Door Shakespeare is still planning on doing a full show this fall. In two weeks, the actors will begin working out of their homes for rehearsals for a yet-to-be-announced presentation. The production will be filmed by the actors themselves and then edited together. Door Shakespeare Managing Director Amy Ensign says it will be a new endeavor for them.

The lack of summer shows does not mean Door Shakespeare is sitting idle before working on the virtual fall production. The theater company is hosting its annual Camp Will virtually for young Shakespeare fans for three different sessions beginning July 13th. Registration for Camp Will is still available.

Intersections site of two Highway 57 crashes

Vehicles trying to cross Highway 57 caused two different accidents in Door and Kewaunee Counties Monday evening. At around 4:45 p.m., an SUV traveling southbound on Highway 57 struck another vehicle towing a trailer near County Road X in Kewaunee County. Shortly after 7 p.m., a truck crossing Highway 57 at County Road H near Brussels was hit by an SUV traveling northbound.  Door County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Pat McCarty says speed and distractions are often the common denominators in these types of crashes.

No injuries were reported in the Kewaunee County crash while the driver of the SUV in the Door County incident suffered a minor injury and was taken to Door County Medical Center for treatment.

Heat wave keeping HVAC crews red hot

Heating and cooling companies in Door and Kewaunee Counties are keeping busy as the area experiences a long wave of hot weather.  The daily high temperature has not dipped below 80 degrees since June 28th in Sturgeon Bay and June 25th in Luxemburg. That has kept companies like Ultimate Air in Luxemburg on the road maintaining older units and installing new ones. Owner Jeff Blemke advises people to make sure their outdoor units are clear of dandelion and cottonwood fuzz, their filters inside are clean, and their fingers are off the dial.

Blemke says the AC refrigerant commonly known as R22 is being phased out, which means homeowners must weigh out the costs of adding more of the increasingly expensive product or to invest in a new unit. Extended forecasts show the area may see the 70s return early next week.

Door County Fair takes projects online

The Door County Fair is making sure the hard work of area youth does not go unnoticed. On Sunday, Door County Fair officials put out the call for 4-H, FFA, school kids, and open class exhibitors to share pictures of their project to be displayed in a digital format. Door County 4-H educator Dawn Vandevoort says even though no awards will be given, the area’s youth should be acknowledged for the work they have done over the last several months.

Door County is one of over 50 county fairs to cancel or modify their 2020 events. The Door County Quality Market Animal Sale will also head online for its auction taking place July 27th through 31st at 



Shortened strawberry season finishing up

Too much rain in May and the COVID-19 health crisis dampened the season for strawberry growers in Door County.  Terry Sorenson of Soren’s Valhalla Orchards in southern Door County says the overall crop in the state was relatively light in yield with incredibly high demand.  He says that presented a challenge to meet when it came to pick-your-own customers.



Sorenson says his strawberry fields were negatively impacted by heavy rains in May.  The flatland patches yielded only about 15 percent of the strawberries compared to raised-bed patches that were for pick-your-own customers.  Sorenson added that Monday was the last day of selling strawberries as sweet cherries will start up this coming weekend. 


Extreme heat dangerous to pets

With continuing temperatures forecasted to top out at nearly 90 degrees for the next several days, pet owners are reminded that hot and humid weather can be dangerous for our four-legged friends.  Dr. Jordan Kobilca of Door County Veterinary Hospital and Luxemburg Pet Clinic says a few preventative measures can go a long way in protecting your dog in the heat.



Dr. Jordan says if you ever have to travel and leave a pet in a vehicle for a brief time, be sure to park in a shaded area while keeping the air-conditioner on.  Keeping a dish of fresh, cool water available to your pet at all times is advised as well.  If you suspect symptoms of heatstroke, like excessive panting and lethargic behavior from your dog, Dr. Jordan recommends bringing your pet to a veterinarian immediately.


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