Dunes Lake restoration project nearing successful completion

The Dunes Lake restoration project is nearing the completion of the removal of tons of phosphorus-laden sediment.  The effort began with a 2016 pilot project.  A partnership between the Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department, local property owners and farmers, Ducks Unlimited. and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program has dredged over 8,000 cubic yards of sediment from the 48-acre lake in the Town of Sevastopol.  Greg Colthurst, with the Soil and Conservation Department, says when the final work is completed, Dunes Lake should offer visitors one more recreational opportunity.


Colthurst says the project has cost just over $1.5-million.  Grant funding was made possible by the involvement of the various partners.  Chris Sebastian, with Ducks Unlimited, says the larger impact of the clean-up is why his organization has joined in.


So far, about ten-acres of Dunes Lake has been dredged with about another four-acres needed to complete the project.


(Photo Courtesy of Ducks Unlimited) 

Treatment Court panel set for discussion

An alternative to incarceration for certain criminal defendants will be explained in length during a panel discussion by Door County officials on March 13.  The virtual event will include a perspective from law enforcement about the role and value of the Door County Treatment Court.  The panel discussion will include Door County Circuit Court Judge David Weber, District Attorney Colleen Nordin, Sheriff Tammy Sternard, and Court Services and Treatment Court Coordinator Kelsey Christensen.  Door County has recently begun accepting defendants into its newly-established treatment court.  Pat Scieszinski of the League of Women Voters of Door County, who is co-sponsoring the event with the Door County Library, says the treatment court was three years in the making and will be held virtually now with hopes for another panel in the fall that will be in person. 



The virtual Door County Treatment Court panel discussion will be at 10 am on Saturday, March 10.  A link for the online discussion is available on the Calendar section of the Door County Library website.    

Area teachers and student receive awards

Two area teachers were named for a Teacher Fellowship and won $6,000 through the Herb Kohl Foundation. The teachers had to write essays that touched on their skills and accomplishments in their careers. Lisa Mueller, a 34-year-teaching veteran is one of the award’s recipients. Mueller teaches first grade in Sturgeon Bay at St. John Bosco Elementary School. Mueller is a native of the area, was nominated for the fellowship by a school parent, and expressed gratitude for the community that’s supported her over the years. 





Southern Door Elementary’s Jessica Meacham was the other award winner and she has been a primary teacher for 18 years. She’s also the founder of the PreK-12 STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) program. Meacham is no stranger to such accolades, as she was Wisconsin’s Rural Teacher of the Year in 2013 and won the award on the national level in 2014. The teachers had to write essays that touched on their skills and accomplishments in their careers. 

Washington Island High School senior, Julia Valentincic was awarded a Student Initiative Scholarship amounting to $10,000 through the same foundation. She will be granted the scholarship upon graduating this Spring. Valentincic carries a 3.96 GPA, and is heavily involved in extracurricular activities including being an officer with the school’s student council, being a part of the school’s cross-country, basketball, trap shooting, and softball programs. Valentincic even plays in the school’s band playing a variety of instruments that include the trumpet, cello, and piano. She will attend St. Norbert this Fall and chase a degree in business, emphasizing mathematics.

This is the 31st year of the Kohl Foundation and Fellowship Program, which was founded by Herb Kohl in 1990, who was a known Wisconsin businessman.


(Photo courtesy of the Herb Kohl Education Foundation)

State park campgrounds see boom in summer reservations

Those planning to camp at state parks in Door County this summer will likely find campsites harder to come by.  Reservations for spring and summer have filled up quickly.    That comes as winter weekend camping has been very strong, with the exception of the recent cold snap that sent daytime temperatures into the single digits to below zero and the extreme windchills.  Eric Hyde, the Superintendent of Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, expects record bookings from Memorial Day through Labor Day.


Wisconsin State Parks saw 2020 campground reservations increased six-percent from 2019.  Overall, the park system hosted nearly 21,000,000 visitors last year. 

New retail store opening in Sturgeon Bay

Waterfront Creations in Algoma is growing with another location planned in Sturgeon Bay.  The specialty store will be opening on April 1st and be operating inside the Park Place Plaza on Third Avenue.  Co-owner Kyle Gau says the store will be an artisan marketplace featuring area crafters along with handcrafted goat milk soap and lotions.  He shares what is being done to get ready for the opening next month.



Waterfront Creations will be the front location at Park Place Plaza in about 400 square feet of floor space. Gau started a pop-up shop three years ago as a junior at Algoma High School and co-owns Waterfront Creations with his mother, Stephanie.  The two owners plan on covering both stores as the hours of operations in Sturgeon Bay are yet to be determined.



Adopt-A-Soldier Door County aiding veterans

Door County’s Adopt-A-Soldier Program has been working on a new initiative the past couple of months to financially assist local disabled veterans. Adopt-A-Soldier Door County’s mission is to send care packages to local troops in Door and Kewaunee Counties year round as well as provide financial assistance to local veterans in need. The non-profit also aims to help with procedures that aren’t military service-related such as paying in full for several vets to get dentures. The program’s founder and President Nancy Hutchinson, clued in on a few of the ways they’ve helped out. 





Hutchinson also says veterans and interested donors can gather more information and be part of Adopt-A-Soldier’s mission by visiting the Adopt A Soldier-Door County Facebook page or Hutchinson also encourages those who know a Door or Kewaunee County high school student or other county resident who has recently enlisted in the military to have that service member give Hutchinson a call at (414) 333-6648


Kewaunee readies for ACT testing


As the Kewaunee High School prepares for their Junior ACT testing day, counselor Steve Meyer describes the new conditions the students will be testing in. During that day, all students besides juniors will be virtual to reduce the number of students in the building. Meyer describes how the day will go.



Kewaunee will partake in the state-wide testing day on Tuesday, March 9th.


Senator forces 11 hour reading of bill

Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson received both praise and backlash this week for forcing an 11-hour reading on the Senate floor for the proposed $1.9 trillion COVID19 relief package titled the American Rescue Plan. Johnson cited concerns of spending that would take place in 2022, 2023, and as far as 2028.



Johnson also voiced concerns of border security. Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin called for the plan to be passed, stating that this is the “investment our state needs to beat the pandemic, save our economy, and start getting our lives back to normal.” Saturday morning, the Senate passed the bill. 


Area cases remain low, second variant strain found in state

Door County Public Health reported three confirmed COVID-19 positive tests on Friday as active cases continue to decline in the area.  With six recoveries, the number of active cases went down to 50. 


Only two of the 37 test results reported by Kewaunee County Public Health since Wednesday were confirmed positive for COVID-19.  There were two recoveries noted which kept the active cases at 11. 


No new hospitalizations or deaths were reported in either Door or Kewaunee counties this week. 


On the vaccination front, Door County has administered 1,879 doses while 739 Kewaunee County residents have received the COVID-19 vaccine.  Wisconsin hit a milestone in the fight against the coronavirus as one million residents have received at least one shot of the vaccine.


 The DHS identified a second variant strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the state on Friday.  You can find the complete news release here. 




Employer Expo going virtual

The Ahnapee Apprenticeship program in Door and Kewaunee counties will host a virtual event next week to connect companies with students and possibly future employees.  The first-ever virtual Employer Expo will be Tuesday, March 9, at 10 am.  Over three dozen employers have signed up, and Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator for Door County Erin O'Toole says getting students involved in the local workforce early is essential.



Consortium Director Jen Johnson says the Employer Expo's virtual format will be interactive and still give businesses a chance to showcase their industries and operations.



The Youth Apprenticeship program integrates school-based learning to instruct students in employability and occupational skills defined by Wisconsin industries.


You can register your business for the Employee Expo here.



DNR begins prescribed burns to aid plants and wildlife

Drivers shouldn't panic if they see what appear to be wildfires in the Brusky Wildlife Area in Kewaunee County or the Red Banks Alvar State Natural Area near Green Bay.  They may be part of a Department of Natural Resources effort to aid native plants and wildlife.  The DNR will be conducting prescribed burns on those public lands and others starting this month.  Fire crews will be making their presence seen during the controlled fires.  Prescribed Fire Specialist  Michele Witecha says public health and safety will be the top priorities.



Witecha says the prescribed burns are an effective way to remove thick, dead vegetation.  That aids the growth of native plants that serve as food and habitat for wildlife.



Residents can get advance notice of the dates of local prescribed burns by logging onto and use the “Show” pull-down menu to find scheduled burns.


(photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR)

Farmers to Families food boxes coming back

Residents in Door and Kewaunee counties will have more opportunities for food assistance courtesy of Feeding America and the United States Department of Agriculture. The Kewaunee County Food Pantry in Algoma announced it will be hosting another Farmers to Family food distribution event on March 25th after hosting one on February 25th. The Door County Food Pantry Coalition and the United Way of Door County will host similar events in Sturgeon Bay and Sister Bay on March 12th and 26th. Over 1,500 Farmers to Families food boxes were distributed last week between the two counties. United Way of Door County Executive Director Amy Kohnle says it shows the need is still there.

Kohnle says more Farmers to Families food boxes were requested for April, but there has been no word on if that wish will be granted. This is part of the fifth round of Farmers to Families food box program being distributed according to the USDA, which has invoiced 9.7 million food boxes as of March 4th. More details about the upcoming events can be found below.


Tooth Fairy nets over $3,000 for dental clinic

Dozens of patients in Door and Kewaunee counties can thank the Tooth Fairy for the additional help keeping their teeth clean. Door County Medical Center recently wrapped up its annual Tooth Fairy campaign for its dental clinic. Instead of collecting teeth, the Tooth Fairy collected over $3,000 from mainly hospital employees to help support the dental clinic’s costs for providing oral health assistance for Medicaid participants and low-income individuals without insurance. Tanya Fischer from the Door County Medical Center Dental Clinic says the dental clinic was closed for a few months last year and invested in several measures to help keep patients and their team safe.

Fischer says the demand for their services has not slowed down since they fully reopened in June. They have also hired two new dentists, Drs. Michelle Shipp and Rachel Sizemore.


Pictures courtesy of Door County Medical Center



Sheriff's Department used in phone scam

There is no Deputy Johnson at the Door County Sheriff’s Department and that is just where a recent phone scam targeting residents begins. The department announced Thursday evening it had received two complaints about a person calling from 920-695-3028 operating under the pseudonym saying there are outstanding warrants for their arrest if they do not post bail. Field Lieutenant Brad Shorteed reminds people the Sheriff’s Department does not conduct business that way.

Shorteed urges people to remain vigilant, not give out personal information, and to contact the dispatch center if other calls from the scammer are received. He added that since they made the initial announcement that there have been no other complaints, but the scammer has also not been tracked down.



Door County updates COVID19 statistics

Updated COVID19 statistics show little changes from yesterday’s numbers in Door County. The number of tests reported today was 19, and four of the tests turned up positive results. There is no change to the quantity of COVID-related deaths in Door County as that number remains at 20. There also were no new hospitalizations in today’s report. This week Door County has administered 1426 COVID19 vaccination doses and Kewaunee County has administered 456. In the state of Wisconsin 133,459 total doses have been given.


The state of Wisconsin performed over 4800 tests today and 677 turned out to be positive. The number of COVID deaths in the state increased by 12 and the number of hospitalizations increased by 51.


No dog park in Ephraim

Public opposition and the withdrawal of a private cash donation will mean no dog park in the Village of Ephraim.  That decision came Thursday during a meeting of the Physical Facilities and Utilities Committee.  Jerry and Pam Okarma offered to donate money to build the dog park on village property on German Road.  The lack of a future maintenance plan for the park and residents' letters raising concerns about safety and traffic issues led Jerry Okarma to reconsider his offer.


Committee members, however, did not rule out the possibility of a future dog park in Ephraim.

Sturgeon Bay approves $10,000 request

The initial push has been made to fund a plan to improve the fields and facilities associated with Sturgeon Bay school athletics. Sturgeon Bay’s city council approved a $10,000 contribution to the preliminary planning study. While the process is in the very early stages, a group of Sturgeon Bay residents were inspired several years ago to get this idea in people’s minds. One of the residents, Dan Lenius spoke at the city council meeting on Tuesday about how the plan came to be and some of the renovations he and others would like to see. One of the reasons for these upgrades is so Sturgeon Bay could host more events that would bring a lot of spectators to track meets, athletic tournaments, and camps. Improvements include rubberizing the track, a turf infield, improved parking, a building with dry locker rooms, training facilities, concessions, storage room, and a press box. The project was described to be in the “design/development phase.” This phase would need to be completed before capital campaigning. Other logistics that would need to be solved are preliminary and conceptual drawings, getting a general contractor to provide a preliminary budget, survey, electrical plans, engineering plans, plumbing plans, as well as HVAC plans. Lenius did not just have athletics in mind when talking about what attracting more events and spectators can do. 





Several other council members thought this would be great for the community and could help area businesses. Councilwoman Helen Bacon cited when she and the rest of the Parks and Recreation Committee were led on a facility tour of Memorial Stadium which offered her perspective on the project. 





The Committee commended Lenius on his efforts as the council unanimously voted to approve the $10,000 request. 


Farmers show optimism ahead of spring

Farmers in Door and Kewaunee counties can head out to their fields with a smile on their face. The winter weather was ideal for farmers according to Rio Creek Feed Mill agronomist Adam Barta, who says there was enough snow cover on the ground during the cold snap in February, but not too much that ice is forming to protect area fields for the spring planting season. Farmers right now are putting the final touches on their planting and nutrient management plans before they head out to their fields. The good weather, a strong 2020, and higher markets has Barta and area farmers optimistic for 2021.

Barta believes farmers may invest more in planting corn and soybeans compared to past years because of the higher commodity prices. He does warn that storms in Iowa last year have affected some varieties of corn that can be planted.


Picture courtesy of Rio Creek Feed Mill

NWTC looks to rebound post-pandemic

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s April Konitzer is optimistic about the future as the impact of the pandemic wears down. Enrollment was down approximately 8.5 percent systemwide over the previous year. As the regional manager for the Sturgeon Bay and Luxemburg campuses, Konitzer says gains made from students looking to stay close to home for post-secondary education were offset by others who decided not to go back to save money. With NWTC announcing it would return to in-person classes this fall last month, Konitzer says the staff is very excited by the opportunity.

Some programs will even get a soft launch this fall. The pandemic has not been all bad according to Konitzer, who believes communication between staff members and students has improved because of more flexible schedules and the additional ways to touch base with each other.


Picture courtesy of LinkedIn

Recent bills leave Gallagher frustrated

Two bills passed by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives are much too partisan for the liking of Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher. Last week he called the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan “the Pelosi payout,” citing that less than 10 percent of the plan goes towards fighting the coronavirus. Gallagher says including the unused $1 trillion from past relief packages and trimming out some of the other projects would have made it easier to support.

On Wednesday, he said the approval of House Resolution 1, which looks to end gerrymandering and place national rules on elections would “only continue to fuel and distrust in our election system.” Gallagher believes more conversations need to take place to address the election system before a bill is passed overhauling it.

Both bills are heading to the Senate based on party-line votes, but they may not have the votes to be passed in the Senate without rule changes. Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has called for the American Rescue Plan to be passed, saying it is the “investment our state needs to beat the pandemic, save our economy, and start getting our lives back to normal.”  Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson disagrees, calling for the entire 700-plus page document to be read aloud so they can “take the time to seriously consider what we are doing to our children.”

Active cases increase in Kewaunee County

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Kewaunee County went up slightly on Wednesday as the area continues to make headway on vaccinations. The Kewaunee County Public Health Department reported seven new positive COVID-19 tests since Monday compared to just four recoveries. Door County had four new positive tests, but noted six recoveries. Door County has distributed 575 vaccinations this week while Kewaunee County has performed 283. Kewaunee County Public Health announced earlier this week it would start vaccinating staff at schools and childcare facilities as well as anyone else that is eligible from prior phases. Door County Public Health said it would continue to focus on its 65-and-over population for the time being. Door County Health and Human Services Director Joe Krebsbach says the time will come for teachers and other groups in Door County.

The state reported 539 new COVID-19 positive tests and 18 additional deaths on Wednesday. It also announced it crossed the 1.5 million dose mark for COVID-19 vaccinations.



COVID-19 Vaccine Update:


The Kewaunee County Public Health Department will begin administering doses of COVID-19 vaccine during the week of Feb. 28, 2021 to staff at schools and childcare facilities. The health department will continue to contact any eligible individuals on the Phase 1A (Emergency Medical Services (EMS), fire, police, community-based residential facilities (CBRFs), as well as staff at funeral homes, dental offices, and eye clinics) & 65+ waiting lists to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as well as administer second doses of vaccine to those in these groups when additional vaccines are available.

Due to limited vaccination supply being received by the Kewaunee County Public Health Department, those who are eligible to get the vaccine and are not scheduled for an appointment are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider.

If you would like to be placed on the waiting list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, call the Kewaunee County Public Health Department at (920) 388-7160 or submit a request via the “Contact Us” link.

NOTE: If you have submitted or are planning to submit a request to be placed on the waiting list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, when eligible, it may take up to 10 business days for the Kewaunee County Public Health Department to contact you. Due to high interest, once your request is made, please do not reach out to the Kewaunee County Public Health Department as a staff member will call when you are eligible and a vaccine is available. It is important that you answer when called as vaccines are time sensitive and will be administered on a first come, first served basis. If you miss the call from the Kewaunee County Public Health Department, please do not call them back. You will remain on the waiting list, and our staff will call you back when another dose is available. If you have reached out elsewhere for a vaccine and are scheduled to receive it, please notify the Kewaunee County Public Health Department as soon as possible to be removed from their wait list. Finally, please know that the Kewaunee County Public Health Department is doing their best to accommodate all requests and asks for patience during this time. Thank You.




Library keeping Dr. Seuss titles being pulled from publishing

The Algoma Public Library will continue lending out six Dr. Seuss book titles that will no longer be published due to the unfavorable representation of some characters' ethnicities.  Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it's ceasing publication of those books after a team of educators found some portrayals to be “hurtful and wrong.”  Library Director Cathy Kolbeck says library officials have discussed the titles in question, which will remain, although there are procedures for dealing with the concerns of library patrons.

The Kewaunee Public Library says it will also address any library patrons' concern about materials that are in circulation on a case-by-case basis. The Door County Library declined to offer comment for this story. Among the six Dr. Seuss titles that will no longer be published are “And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo”.

Sturgeon Bay moves forward with Otumba Beach project

Sturgeon Bay’s City Council unanimously approved moving forward with plans for an expansion of Otumba Beach at their meeting on Tuesday, March 2nd. Some of the changes include doubling the depth of the beach while the width will stay the same. The beach’s depth would be approximately 50 feet deep. Council members estimated that the width is a little over 120 feet. These changes would then push back the sidewalk which would also pave the way for lighting to be placed on that sidewalk. 


The renovation does include thought for those who are handicapped or less mobile, as 3 cement slabs are expected to be poured for the ADA accessible picnic tables that are currently at Graham Park. City Councilman Spencer Gustafson mentioned that sharing this plan to his Facebook page fostered a lot of interaction, citing more than 8,000 post views. He even shared what the ADA-accessible beach mat would mean to area residents and visitors. 





A kayak/canoe launch will also be placed at the end of West Juniper. It is anticipated, however, that this renovation will make the driving area of Otumba Park inaccessible to truck traffic due to narrowing. One idea that was brought up amongst council members was putting barricades in the Winter so large vehicles do not try to use the roadway to get access onto the ice for fishing. 


(Picture courtesy of City of Sturgeon Bay) 


Egg Harbor Plan Commission turns down Shipwrecked proposal

The Village of Egg Harbor Plan Commission voted down the approving a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a proposed expansion by Shipwrecked Brew Pub on Tuesday.  Interim Administrator Tom Strong says the plan calling for a shared-use agreement for a shared driveway with adjacent property owned by Signature Pieces is highly unlikely to happen.  Shipwrecked owners are proposing the addition of nearly 1,900-square-feet to add more seating and a beer garden.  Strong explains the next step.



Strong adds that the Plan Commission decided there was no need to continue deliberations on the rest of the project until updated plans are presented.  He adds that significant design changes to the plan will be made before coming back to the Plan Commission. 


(rendering courtesy of Village of Egg Harbor)

Extra turkey hunting permits available March 16

Turkey hunters can bag more birds this spring by claiming extra turkey hunting permits later this month.  Door County DNR Conservation Warden Chris Kratcha says that people who applied for this spring’s turkey harvest can claim an additional hunting permit for zone 2, including Door County, on Tuesday, March 16.  Kratcha says there are many leftover authorizations for the final two time periods this spring.



Kracha says turkeys are numerous and very visible in open area fields this time of year.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sponsors a youth turkey hunt that opens on April 17 and 18.  The one-week spring hunts start with Period A on April 21 and end with Period F from May 26 through June 1.


Turkey Hunt dates

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