News

YMCA getting artistic

The Door County YMCA is getting diverse with children’s art offerings this summer. The YMCA is starting their Youth Art Camp series which is held on Fridays. The camp attempts to reach multiple age cohorts, as it’s available to children ages four and up. Marketing Director for the Door County YMCA Amy Gamble said that there are activities to reach people with all sorts of artistic interests. 

 

 

The Friday sessions last a half day. Gamble pointed out that the YMCA website will show guardians more information on Art Camp. According to the series, sessions are held until August 27th. 

 

Northern Door County road construction completed

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced that finishing touches were put on a $2.68 million project to make northern Door County transportation smoother. According to a press release from the DOT, all major construction on Wisconsin State Highway 42 from Scandia Road to Wisconsin Bay Road in the town of Liberty Grove and the village of Sister Bay has been completed. The project also reached goals, finishing on time and within its budget. The 9.6-mile project included milling and resurfacing, and added gravel to shoulders and pavement markings.

Bald Eagle numbers soar

One of the most prevalent symbols for the United States has made a strong comeback in the last forty years across the country and in northeast Wisconsin. Bald Eagles, which remain protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, have seen their population grow in the state since 1974. The last time the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources got to fully survey the numbers was in 2019 and there were 1684 occupied nests in the state and 21 in Door County. DNR Biologist Jacob Koebernick states that the public plays an important role in nest watching and reporting efforts. Koebernick says they’ll have a couple new nests in Door County to check out next year. 

 

 

Koebernick credits public awareness and waterway clean-up efforts for going a long way in improving the eagles’ ecology as well as eliminating use of certain pesticides like DDT. He adds that it’s not just symbolism that makes Bald Eagles important to Wisconsin’s ecosystem

 

 

Other ways the public can help are by being an Adopt an Eagle Nest Program donor or by being an Endangered Resources License Plate holder, in which some proceeds go to eagle habitat conservation.

 


Communities and government continue to support families in need

Throughout the past year, Door and Kewaunee county communities have shown their generosity through continued donations to their pantries. Ken Marquardt, the director of the Kewaunee County Food Pantry describes the difference donations have made.

 

 

Similarly, Estella Huff, the director of Feed and Clothe my People Door County says the impact of donations on their pantry has been a positive one.

 

 

In addition to the widespread donations of both counties, both federal and state governments have given support to families through increased food stamps as well as increased amounts on Quest cards. With this support from the government and local food pantries, it has become easier for families to get the food they need.

City of Sturgeon Bay quickly takes care of business

Tuesday’s City of Sturgeon Bay Common Council meeting began with a different face calling the meeting to order, as Council President Dan Williams sat in for Mayor David Ward who was not in attendance. The meeting’s first item was taken care of when the consent agenda was approved.

 

The council passed the first reading of an ordinance repealing and recreating Section 5.01 of the Municipal Code -- Composition. This ordinance would put in code the Sturgeon Bay Police Department restructure, adding an Assistant Chief of Police position and erasing the Lieutenant position. 

 

The Council approved the first reading of an ordinance repealing and recreating Section 10.02 of the Municipal Code -- Carrying a concealed weapon prohibited. This is to help the city clean up their current ordinance to be more in line with the state statute. If this ordinance is signed it would officially read “No person, except a peace officer or concealed carry permit holder, shall carry on his/her person any dangerous or electronic weapon.” 

 

In the City Administrator Report, Josh VanLieshout said that garbage collection times have been altered because the city’s garbage truck has experienced mechanical issues. This has caused the city to rent a truck from Green Bay. VanLieshout asked city residents to bear with the city as they await their new truck that is expected to come in the fall. He also mentioned that the Otumba Park project is moving along as hoped and is expecting it to be finished at the end of the month. He added that he hopes to have a ribbon cutting ceremony after the project is finished. VanLieshout also gave an update on the potential lodging tax increase that the city approved. He said that he visited with other Door County communities to speak about the tax, and feels there’s a good chance the increase from a 5.5% rate to 8% will move forward. 

 

There was no Mayor’s report. 

 

Area marinas vow cleanliness

Marinas in Door and Kewaunee County have been recognized by the Wisconsin Clean Marina program in the last two weeks. SkipperBud’s Harbor Club Marina in Sturgeon Bay was recertified this week as a Wisconsin Clean Marina, showing that it has maintained clean-boating techniques since its initial certification in 2010. Harbor Club Assistant Manager Taylor Eggener said in a press release, “The biggest improvement we have made is trying to educate our fellow boaters and water enthusiasts on what they can do to help protect our waterways.”  The Wisconsin Clean Marina Program is a voluntary program, committing to adopting the best management practices in order to reduce pollution and improve water quality.

 

The program’s first step is to sign the pledge to become a Wisconsin Clean Marina program and then employ best practices. The City of Kewaunee Marina took the pledge last week. 

 

For staff to be fully certified as a Wisconsin Clean Marina, ports must get checked and meet a certain amount of qualifications on a checklist. Other Door County marinas have taken the pledge. This is the program’s first expansion into Kewaunee County. Wisconsin Clean Marina Program Director Theresa Qualls hopes they continue both on the shoreline and inward.

 

 

Some practices that gained popularity in recent years are constructing pollinator gardens, rain gardens, and reducing plastic wastes. The list of pledged and certified marinas in Kewaunee and Door County can be found through this link

 


New look and more runners needed for the Crossroads Annual Trail Run

This year’s Crossroads Trail run will look a bit differently from previous races. The run will be taking place this weekend on June 19th beginning at 9:00. Gretchen Schmelzer, the director of the race, describes why this year’s race will be different from past years.

 

 

In addition to those changes there will also be a staggered start time for the people who chose to run on location. This difference will make it easier for those who want to social distance during the race. All people who complete the race between 8:00am and 12:00pm on June 19th will receive a native  tree sapling at the Collins Learning Center. Schmelzer said that in normal years this event brings 400 people in, however this year they are only expecting 300. There is still time to register for people interested. Registration is open online, people will also be able to register in person on the 19th before the event begins. More information is available at the crossroads trail run website.

Door and Kewaunee County pose fire dangers

You will have to be extra careful before burning in Door and Kewaunee County for the time being. Both counties are considered to be in moderate fire danger. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has responded to 765 wildfires just this year, which has burned over 1900 acres. Precautions include checking recent debris burns for smoldering embers and to be mindful of breezy conditions that can cause flames to rekindle. Gibraltar Fire Chief Andy Bertges stresses the need for burners to prepare their burn site.

 

 

He adds that if the county hits high or extreme danger they’ll limit open burning. Fire conditions change daily and are typically posted to the DNR website at 11:00 AM daily. The majority of Wisconsin counties are considered to be high fire dangers as of Tuesday. Other precautions as listed by the DNR are listed below.

 

  • Operate equipment (chainsaws, off-road vehicles, lawn mowers, etc.) early in the morning or late in the day to avoid sparks at peak burn hours.
  • Secure dragging trailer chains.
  • Delay having campfires until the evening hours as fire conditions tend to improve; keep them small and contained.
  • Report fires early, dial 911.

 

(Photos from Wisconsin DNR)

Algoma green lights ATVs and UTVs

Just as summer is getting into full swing, the city of Algoma has officially updated their legal transportation methods. ATVs and UTVs can now be driven in city streets with posted speed limits of 35 mph or lower. Drivers must be at least 16 years old and have a valid drivers licence, have liability insurance and drivers born after January 1st of 1988 must finish an ATV safety course. Algoma Police Chief Randy Remiker urges drivers to display awareness. 

 

 

Exceptions to the new rule apply as ATV/UTV vehicles aren’t allowed at city parks, Crescent Beach, and the marina. Details of the city’s ATV/UTV ordinance passed by the city council can be found in the Algoma Municipal Code section 44-61. 

 


Birch Creek prepares for first concert

For the first time since August 2019, music will fill the air for a concert at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Egg Harbor. After the pandemic canceled their in-person programming in 2020, students and staff attending Birch Creek’s percussion and steel band session began coming in on Sunday for two weeks of instruction and concerts. Birch Creek Music Performance Center Executive Director Mona Christensen says they are taking precautions to make sure their campers stay safe in accordance with current guidelines.

This week has already been a reunion for staff members and students, but Christensen says she has already heard from visitors excited for live music once again.

Birch Creek’s opening night performance on Thursday for the percussion and steel band session is sold out, but space is still available for its five other concerts as well as their symphony and big band jazz shows. You can hear our full discussion with Christensen online on our podcasts page.

Liberty Grove to consider short-term rental ordinance

The Town of Liberty Grove will make its decision on how it handles short-term rental properties when its board meets on Wednesday. The ordinance is one of many that has circulated through different county municipalities as the number of property owners listing their homes on tourist rooming house platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo increases. The ordinance would require anyone renting their homes for more than 10 days a year to acquire a license from the Door County Tourism Zone and meet all related state statutes. Town chairperson John Lowry says the biggest difference between their ordinance and one currently under discussion in Sevastopol is their approach to a home’s septic holding tank.

If approved, Lowry would likely hire Granicus to help oversee the town’s short-term housing properties to make sure they are complying. The Town of Liberty Grove will also be looking to update its masking policies when it meets on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at its town hall.  The Town of Sevastopol will discuss its STR ordinance at a meeting to be held on June 21st.

Bridge closure begins Wednesday

Motorists using County Highway C over the Kewaunee River will have to find a different route beginning on Wednesday. The Kewaunee County Highway Department is closing County Highway C between County Highway FF and County Highway L to perform bridge rehabilitation work for the span that crosses the Kewaunee River. Motorists can use County Highways B and F as detour routes during the construction work, which is expected to last about two months.


Missing boater found dead

A Green Bay man that went missing after a Sunday night storm caused his boat to capsize has been found dead. According to Green Bay media reports, the body of 28-year-old Jorge Bautista was discovered by two kayakers at approximately 4 p.m. Monday after he went missing late Sunday night. Strong winds and heavy rain caused Bautista's boat to capsize near Vincent Point in the Bay of Green Bay at approximately 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, causing him and six others to go overboard. The other six individuals were rescued late Sunday night before the search for Bautista was called off at 1 a.m.

Protecting yourself from Swimmers Itch

As the area beaches become even more of an attraction this summer, public health officials remind people to take added precautions to remain healthy after swimming in lakes and other bodies of water. An itchy rash, known as swimmers itch, can be caused by an allergic reaction after leaving the water. Door County Sanitarian and Health Educator Chelsea Smies notes the easy way to prevent the condition.

 

 

Swimmers itch is also known as cercarial dermatitis and is most common in freshwater lakes and ponds. Smies notes that the medical condition may be uncomfortable but usually clears up in a few days. Swimmers itch shows up as itchy, red welts, and the level of irritation can vary on the number of flatworms that get into your skin.

Kewaunee County looks to approve park repair funds

The replacement of the damaged roadway and parking areas at a county park near Dyckesville will be one of the main agenda items at Tuesday’s Kewaunee County Board meeting.  Acting on a committee recommendation, the Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors will be discussing the transfer of funds to address the Red River County Park repairs.  Board Chair Dan Olson credits Park Director Dave Myers with bringing forward the plan to resolve the damage caused by Green Bay's record high water levels.

 

 

The Promotion and Recreation Department is seeking $31,700 from the contingency fund to make the repairs to the roadway and parking area.  Other resolutions covered Tuesday include increased County Child Support Funding and Approval of the sale of Tax Deed Parcels to the City of Kewaunee.  Tuesday’s meeting begins at 6 pm at the Kewaunee County Administration Center.         

Door County highways avoid "heat buckling" damage

The extremely high temperatures experienced last week in the area did not cause any road damages caused by heat buckling, according to Door County Highway Commissioner Thad Ash.  The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported last week that 68 roadways around the state had experienced partial or full road closures due to crumbling pavement brought on by the heat.  Ash believes that area roads have been spared any buckling because of the relatively dry weather conditions.

 

 

Ash adds the first sign of a road buckling is when the “tenting” effect causes pavement to heave up due to moisture from under the concrete and subsequent high temperatures.  The DOT reported 163 cases of pavement buckling in 2020. 

Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, historical society renew lease

A long-standing relationship between the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and the Door County Historical Society will continue until 2036 after a new 15-year lease was announced on Monday.

 

The Door County Historical Society has partnered with the United States Coast Guard, Bureau of Land Management, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in preserving the over 150-year-old structure ever since it was saved from an uncertain fate in 1960. The lighthouse has since been an attraction inside Peninsula State Park thanks to restoration efforts and guided tours. With grand plans for the lighthouse on the horizon, Door County Historical Society Executive Director Bailey Koepsel says she is happy the relationship will continue.

The site operates as a museum between May and October and still serves as a functional navigational aid for those crossing the Strawberry Channel.

 

Picture of Executive Director Bailey Koepsel at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, courtesy Cody LaCrosse

Chester comes home

After over a week of searching, a lost dog and his Sturgeon Bay owner have finally found each other again. Chester was found early Monday morning on the Bay View Bridge by Abby Heimbecher’s mother on her way to teach classes at the Door County YMCA. Heimbecher’s mom opened the door to her car and Chester jumped in willingly. It was a happy ending to a stressful time for Heimbecher, who had posted signs up around town and went to social media in hopes of help. She says with help from Finding Toby Inc., a Suamico-based missing dog organization, they were able to fine-tune their search efforts.

Heimbecher says there were times when she and her family almost gave up, but she stressed the importance of sticking with it.

As for Chester, he was back home sleeping as of Monday morning after a big welcome home meal. Chester is also preparing for a visit with the vet to make sure he is ok after his week traveling across the city. Heimbecher added that Chester has always been a bit of a runner and says a GPS tracking chip is in his future.

 

THE STORY OF HOW CHESTER WAS FOUND

 

Storms knock out power, cause fire calls

A storm that rolled across Door County Sunday evening made for a busy night for local fire departments and Wisconsin Public Service. According to the Door County Dispatch report released Monday morning, there were approximately a dozen reports of trees and wires down due to the storm that packed with it high winds and heavy rain. The Egg Harbor Fire Department attended to three different fire calls between 6:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. all related to the storm. Fire Chief Andy Staats says their work was primarily to secure the scene until WPS could arrive.

Staats reminds residents that if they do see a downed power line to avoid the area and to call the authorities since the wire could be live. The storm is also to blame for a boat that capsized south of Bay Shore Park in Brown County. One person was still missing as of early Monday morning.

 

 

Boater still missing in bay

Emergency personnel will likely head back to the Bay of Green Bay on Monday in search of one last boater after rescuing several others Sunday night.

 

According to several Green Bay news media outlets, a boat capsized near Vincent Point located south of Bay Shore County Park at approximately 9:30 p.m. Crews from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, Green Bay Police Department, Green Bay Fire Department, New Franken Fire Department, and the United States Coast Guard responded to the incident. Six of the seven people on board have already been rescued including five adults and one child. The boat has also been recovered. Search and rescue crews stopped their search at approximately 1 a.m.

 

The National Weather Service advised boaters at around 7:30 p.m. to head to safe harbors as 50 mile per hour winds accompanied a line of thunderstorms. 

 

Picture from Pixabay

Storm to bear down on Door County

The  National Weather Service is asking boaters on the bay and Lake Michigan to head to safe harbors due to a line of thunderstorms hitting the area Sunday evening. Isolated storms are heading southeast along the Wisconsin/Upper Michigan border at 50 miles per hour. Strong, gusty winds and hail could be a part of the storms. The National Weather Service states the severe weather pattern could also affect other parts of Brown, Door, and Kewaunee counties until midnight on Sunday.

 

 

Door County Humane Society continues pet health initiative

The Humane Society is holding an event at the Humane Society campus in Sturgeon Bay for just the second time this year to help people get their pets up to date on shots. On June 24th, there will be a low-cost pet vaccination clinic at the Door County campus where they’ll offer a variety of routine shots and even a microchip for pets. The Marketing Coordinator for the Door County Humane Society campus Shaina Allen said they decided to set up the clinic in Sturgeon Bay after the first one went well earlier this year. Allen hopes the effort continues to be well received so that they can continue these types of events. She says it also serves as a reminder for others to update their pets vaccinations. 

 

 

The Humane Society is asking appointments to be made in advance. More details can be found following this link.

 

YMCA peaking north

A kids program that has evolved into a popular class over the years for the Door County YMCA is heading north this summer. Three days a week the Northern Door YMCA will have the Peak Performance strength and conditioning clinic for the season. Member Service Director Megan Schneider says the addition to the summer regimen will benefit kids who haven’t found their preferred fitness method. She adds that it can be an educational tool for those who are new to finding a workout routine.
 

 

The Northern Door YMCA will also be exploring with off-site courses. They’ll conduct beach yoga in Ephraim and Sister Bay in the summer.

 

Public asked for directional input by DDC

Board members with Destination Door County are doing their due diligence in finding a replacement for departing CEO Jack Moneypenny, but on Friday went outside the board and Executive Committee for help. The organization is asking residents to share their thoughts on the directions they could go. The public's input is especially valued as DDC tweaks their identity. The press release states they are changing from a Destination Marketing organization to a Destination Management and Marketing organization. The input from the public will contribute to internal discussions, which the head of the search committee, Todd Trimberger, notes are very active.

 

 

There is no set deadline for a hire to be made. Door County residents can fill out the form here.

 

Dry weather causing worry

Farmers are looking to the sky for a little extra help as northeastern Wisconsin continues to go through its dry spell. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, farmers were able to work in the fields on average six of the seven days last week thanks to dry weather, which allowed some farmers to cut hay and replant some crops damaged by cooler weather late last month. Now farmers in some parts of Wisconsin worry things may be too dry. UW-Madison climate researcher Christopher Kucharik told PBS Wisconsin recently that the state is running a three to a seven-inch deficit of precipitation going back to the spring. Parts of southern Wisconsin are currently in some stages of either moderate or severe drought according to the U.S. drought monitor website. Door and Kewaunee counties are currently listed as being abnormally dry. As a result, some operators like Aissen Tree Farm outside of Luxemburg are irrigating their crops for the first time in years.

 

 

Hillside Apples owner Bill Roethle says his trees are still in good shape, but they could use a little help.

Roethle suggests that even though some varieties may be shorter in supply this year that the warm weather will help the crop progress nicely. Farmers may get a little help with at least a 20 percent chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday according to the National Weather Service.

 

 

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