Optimism growing for pandemic future

Although he is still expecting a small spike in the numbers from Thanksgiving, Door County Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Heise is finally seeing some light at the end of COVID-19 tunnel.  Heise told Thursday that it appears the state’s positive case numbers are beginning to decline after hitting record totals in the middle of November. Door County has seen the number of active cases drop from over 600 a few weeks ago to 388 as of Thursday. Heise says the hospital has been over capacity several times in recent weeks, but he says the COVID-19 patients that are coming in are doing better thanks to some of the treatments available to them.

Heise is also encouraged by the vaccines that are coming within the next few weeks and how effective they have been.

Despite the positive trend, Heise implores people to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves and their families. You can listen to our full discussion with Heise on our podcast page.

Close call for Hainesville church

Timing was everything when it came to a fire call Friday morning for the Southern Door Fire Department. The department was dispatched to Hainesville Lutheran Church on County M, near Idlewild, just after 7 a.m. when a church employee caught the strong smell of burning smoke. Crews did not notice anything wrong until they found what appeared to be a burn spot hidden by some ceiling tile. After heading upstairs, firefighters found a lit spotlight that had fallen was slowly burning the floor. A two-foot section of the floor was eventually removed, but Southern Door Assistant Fire Chief Chuck Cihlar says it could have been a lot worse.

Algoma, Brussels-Union-Gardner, and Sturgeon Bay fire departments also responded to the call. Cihlar recommends people double-check their rooms before they leave them to make sure potential fire-starters do not have the opportunity to cause damage. It was the second call in about 24 hours for some on the Southern Door Fire Department, which responded to a barn fire in Kewaunee County Thursday night.


Picture courtesy of Hainesville Lutheran Church

Roof sit-in raises $22,000

The eleven hours United Way of Door County Board President Peter Kerwin sat on the roof of Starr Realty proved to be well worth the time as the organization raised over $22,000 on Thursday. Kerwin reprised his fundraiser effort from over a decade ago to help raise funds towards the United Way’s goal of $650,000. Between 7am and 6 p.m., Kerwin took phone calls and hoisted buckets of money to help reach $20,000 before he came down to warm up after a day’s work. Kerwin said earlier in the day how important it was to support the efforts of the United Way.

Donations continue to come in afterward to end with a total of approximately $22,000. United Way of Door County Executive Director Amy Kohnle says they will be able to do a lot of good with the money that was collected.

The United Way of Door County is beginning the grant review process this month to see how big the needs are in the community ahead of 2021.

Christian bringing worldly music to Studio 330

A local musician has been able to keep busy working on projects at his studios in Sturgeon Bay during a year that saw canceled musical ensembles and concerts around the world.  Hans Christian, the owner of Studio 330 on North Third Avenue, says the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the music scene around Door County and beyond.  Christian, a native of Hanover Germany, plays many instruments including his vintage German cello.  His large network of musicians that spans from Los Angeles to Asheville, North Carolina recently has kept Christian’s studio busy.



Other musicians from Waupaca and Door County have also recently collaborated with Christian who released an album called “After the Fall” this past spring”.  You can listen to the entire interview with Hans Christian on the podcast page.



(photo courtesy of Studio 330)

COVID-19 Update: Area recoveries up, hospitalizations down

Area cases of COVID-19 continued the encouraging sign of recoveries outnumbering new positive tests on Thursday.   Door County Public Health reported 21 new coronavirus cases and 35 recoveries.  The active cases lowered to 388 and no new hospitalizations were recorded.


Kewaunee County saw their active cases drop six as recoveries outpaced new COVID-19 cases on Thursday by a 21 to 15 pace.  Active cases now stand at 105 and deaths remain at 22 after three more people died from the coronavirus earlier this week.  The hospitalizations in Kewaunee County dropped to three and is the lowest since November 11.


State health officials announced this week that Wisconsin is ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as early as mid-December with potentially 50,000 doses.  The number of positive cases rose over 4,600 on Thursday with 60 new deaths reported.




Kewaunee County COVID-19 UPDATE



Park attendance skyrockets during pandemic

The summer of 2020 saw increased attendance at state Parks in Door County despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  Newport State Park in Ellison Bay hosted 115,761 visitors from June through August this year. That compares with 84,606 people in 2019.  Potawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay drew 131,902 people between June and August, compared with 108,361 visitors during the same period in the summer of 2019. Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek's attendance from June through August was 702,778, well above the 610,083 that visited in 2019.   Those who are already dreaming of biking, hiking or camping at any state park in Door County can take the first step on December 1st. That's when 2021 Wisconsin State Park admission passes go on sale.  DNR Business Services Section Chief Chris Pedretti expects that trend to continue.

The Wisconsin State Parks and Forests annual passes can be purchased at park offices, DNR Service Centers and online.

Jay's carries on the Legacy

Whenever Renee Derenne visits with one of her in-home care clients, her dad comes to mind. It’s not just because the name of her business, Jay’s Legacy based in Manitowoc, bears the initials of her father. Jay’s Legacy offers in-home, non-medical care for clients in Brown, Door, Kewaunee, and Manitowoc counties. Staff members drive clients to appointments, help prepare meals, and assist in home maintenance. They can also be called upon to simply take them to a movie or play a hand of cards. It is the type of care Derenne’s dad needed in the last year of his life as he battled cancer.

Derenne says her company allows people to still live independently while giving family members peace of mind that their loved ones are still be taken care of while they are apart. She says her company gives their clients a little more flexibility when it comes to seeing their loved ones while many community-based residential facilities have restrictions on visitors during the pandemic.


Picture courtesy of Jay's Legacy

Southern Door, Sevastopol keep holiday tradition

Like many things in 2020, holiday traditions put on by Southern Door and Sevastopol School Districts will have a different look. Both school districts have welcomed the area’s seniors for an afternoon of eating and holiday entertainment. Sevastopol tied their holiday meal to a concert by its bands and choirs. Southern Door allowed its students to dine with the seniors and share season’s greetings. In both cases, the events will not take place in its old form, but instead offering curbside pick-up instead. Southern Door High School Principal Steve Bousley says it was important to them that the tradition to continue.

Sevastopol’s holiday meal event is on December 15th and Southern Door’s is on December 16th. You can find more details on these two events below.



Every year we look forward to the opportunity to host our senior members of the Sevastopol community for a luncheon and to enjoy our concerts. Because of the ongoing pandemic, our holiday concerts will not be performed in the traditional manner. This also means we will adjust how we can offer our accompanying meal. On Dec 15th, we would like to invite those members of the community who would have joined us for lunch to come to school and pick up a meal to take home with them. This meal will be ready to take home and reheat at your convenience and will be offered in a contactless, drive-thru manner to help us keep our senior visitors safe. We will be waiting at the front entrance of school, and as cars pull into the driveway, we will offer you a bag with your meal without the need to get out of the car. In an effort to create new memories of our holiday tradition, in addition to meals being handed out, there will be a choir singing Christmas Carols for you to enjoy as you drive-thru. We will be offering meal pick up from 1pm-2pm on Dec. 15th. Please call Sevastopol School 920-743-6282, extension 1117, and let us know if you plan on picking up a meal.



All senior citizens, age 62 and over, who live in the Southern Door community are invited to participate in this year’s revamped annual Southern Door Holiday Celebration, Wednesday, December 16, 2020. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the regular in-person holiday party will not occur; however, the holiday meal will be available for pickup with a drive-through curbside service.
Individuals can pick up their holiday meals between 1:00-2:00 pm on Wednesday, December 16th by driving up to door 11, which is the new east entrance to the high school. Students and staff will bring your meal(s) to your car. This year’s menu includes traditional turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetable, and dessert.
Reservations for this event must be made by calling the high school office, (920) 825-7333, by Monday, December 14th at 12 noon.

Tauscher resigns from Door County Board

The search is on for a new Door County Board Supervisor to represent portions of Sturgeon Bay.


Door County Board Chairperson Dave Lienau announced Thursday he is accepting letters of interest for District 7 supervisor position being vacated by Erin Tauscher.  The Sturgeon Bay resident defeated incumbent Helen Bacon in the spring election this year, only to resign seven months later on November 21st. No reason for Tauscher’s resignation was given in the release. People hoping to be considered need to submit their letter of interest by December 17th at 4 p.m. Followed by a vetting process, Lienau will nominate a person to be confirmed by the Door County Board in the weeks after.


The person chosen would serve out the remainder of the term representing Sturgeon Bay’s first and second wards on the Door County Board until April 18th, 2022.


Picture courtesy of Door County

Combine fire shuts down roadway

Motorists traveling through Sevastopol Wednesday had to find a different way home due to a combine fire. The Door County Sheriff's Department alerted its Facebook followers around 5 p.m. that Martin Road between Dunn and Windermere Drive would be closed due to the fire. Local fire departments were able to extinguish the blaze, but removing the damaged combine took several hours to complete. We will have more information on this incident when it becomes available.


Picture courtesy of Door County Sheriff's Department



Civility challenges during pandemic and holidays

The Door County Civility Project’s mission to foster and incorporate the principles of civility into the fabric of everyday life is being challenged with the forces of a pandemic, an election year, and the holiday season.  Steering Committee member Shirley Senarighi says it’s important to show empathy when dealing with those who hold different political views.  Even a month removed from Election Day, emotions can still be running deep.



Senarighi also notes that the additional stresses of COVID-19 this year will bring about a different type of stress around the holidays.  Having perspective, respecting differing opinions, and not judging others while keeping an open dialogue can promote civility.  Senarighi adds that now is a good time to heal those family relationships that may have been damaged in the past.    

New ADRC program combats loneliness

In efforts to foster positive, meaningful relationships and help people feel less lonely, a local organization is forming an “Adopt-A-Grandparent Program”.  The new program for 2021 is being facilitated by the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Door County with hopes to match people who have similar interests across all generations.  Activity Volunteer Coordinator Nicki Scharrig says the program encourages participants to get to know each other via phone, video chat, virtual games, or old fashioned handwritten letters.  She says the idea has already been well-received by area schools.



Sharrig adds the “Adopt-A-Grandparent” would run for one year and only require a weekly commitment of one to two hours.  Interested individuals can contact the ADRC directly to participate or go online and register at

Two dead in Kewaunee and three hospitalized in Door

On Wednesday Kewaunee County Public Health reported that two more people died from COVID-19.  The positive tests for coronavirus rose 18 while new recoveries showed to be 25.  Active cases dropped nine to 120 in Kewaunee County with hospitalizations staying at four.

In Door County three more people were hospitalized and 11 more positive cases were reported.  The active cases went up 30 to 398 after dropping considerably the past two days. 

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 82 more deaths in the state on Wednesday bringing that total to 3,502.  Confirmed positive tests showed 3,777 more cases and 197 additional hospitalizations.




Richmond excited for Horseshoe Bay Farms role

Drew Richmond saw his 20-plus year in non-profit return take another turn this month as he officially took on the role of executive director for Horseshoe Bay Farms. Hired as the organization’s first staff member, Richmond previously served at the Door County YMCA as its Northern Center Executive Director in Fish Creek and the Director of Development and Marketing for The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor. Horseshoe Bay Farms has over a century of history behind it, but the non-profit behind its future stewardship is just two years old. It is that aspect of the job that intrigued Richmond to accept the role.

With a 20-year master plan as his guide, Richmond is excited to start recruiting volunteers and bring visitors to Horseshoe Bay Farms in 2021. You can listen to our full conversation with Richmond on our podcasts page.


Pictured courtesy of Horseshoe Bay Farms

Egg Harbor condemns disputed land

One day in court ended and another awaits regarding approximately 400 square feet in Egg Harbor. Last week, Judge David Weber ruled the Village of Egg Harbor could condemn a small sliver of land near County G so it could connect pedestrians on Highway 42 to its popular beach area. Portions of the Highway G project started earlier this year. The owners of the land, the Shipwrecked Brewpub, fought against the village purchasing the property to protect it for possible future use. Village administrator Ryan Heise says they will soon be heading back to court on a related issue. The village is being charged with not answering their injunction request regarding the condemnation of the land in a timely fashion. Heise believes case law is in their favor.

Briefs are expected to be filed shortly before the oral ruling scheduled for January 5th. Heise says if the village were to lose that case, he is not sure what that would mean moving forward since the judge ruled they could condemn the land.

Assembly, Senate releases COVID-19 bill plans

While he does not agree with everything in the proposal, Rep. Joel Kitchens believes common ground can be met to address the growing needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Released on Tuesday, the proposal would require teachers to head back to the classroom unless they had an approved medical reason and school districts to only go into virtual instruction in two week increments pending two-thirds board approval. The bill would also protect districts from people trying to sue because of possible exposure. The Sturgeon Bay Republican does not want to force anybody back, but he says learning should take place in the classroom if possible.

Under the plans, the Legislature’s budget committee would also have more say in how federal CARES Act funds are distributed and the power to transfer approximately $100 million from other agencies to address the pandemic. Kitchens believes the legislature should have more of a say in how the state’s money is spent during this time.

He hopes the Assembly and Governor Tony Evers can come together on some common ground so help can come to many Wisconsinites. He admits they also have to come together with the Senate, which released its own plans on Tuesday as well. If approved, this would be the first bill the Wisconsin Legislature has approved regarding the state’s COVID-19 response since April.

Kewaunee teacher creatively "flipping" classrooms

This year has been a time of adjustment for everyone, schools especially. Teachers are having to find new ways of relaying curriculum to their students in this unprecedented year. Mitchell Hahn, one of the Kewaunee High School's mathematics teachers has found a creative way to keep his students connected and up to date with the curriculum. He shares the struggles that he has faced.



Hahn has found a way to keep students engaged as he implements the “flipped classroom” for his AP Calculus class. 



This is only one of the many ways that teachers are working to educate their students the best that they can through this difficult time.



You can listen to the complete interview with Mr. Hahn on the podcast page.



Farm Market vendor fees not doubling

The City of Sturgeon Bay amended a resolution that would have doubled the fees for vendors at the Sturgeon Bay Farmers Market during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.  During public comments, Connie Bordeau spoke for several minutes asking the council to reconsider the doubling of fees.



After much discussion by councilmembers who heard from several constituents on the topic, the council voted unanimously to only charge vendors half of the increase for 2021.  Seasonal vendors that paid $175 will now have to pay $260, rather than the initially proposed $350.   


In other business, a recommendation by the City Plan Commission regarding a revision of a development plan for an apartment complex planned for the west side waterfront was unanimously approved.  Northpointe Development would build 700 to 1000 square foot, market-rate, one and two-bedroom apartments that house 52 units.  Developer Andy Dumke says construction would begin on the one acre property behind Greystone Castle’s parking lot in the spring of 2021 with completion by early 2022. 

Area recoveries outnumber new COVID-19 cases

A day after recording the county’s 20th death, Kewaunee reported 33 new recoveries on Tuesday, offsetting 17 positive tests for COVID-19.  Active cases went down from 136 to 120.  There was one more hospitalization on Tuesday in Kewaunee County bringing the current total to four.

Door County Public Health had slight state-adjusted numbers for tests performed and negative test results on Tuesday, but did report four new coronavirus cases.  Recoveries went up 50 to lower the active cases to 428.  One additional hospitalization was disclosed.


The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported the highest number of daily COVID-19 deaths with 107 on Tuesday.  An additional 277 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in the state on Tuesday as hospitals are reportedly experiencing strain and staffing shortages.




Town of Gibraltar budget increase passes through public vote

The Town of Gibraltar was able to get the 2021 budget passed with two resolutions Monday evening.  Over 40 town electors voted during the meeting that lasted about 90 minutes.  By state law, residents of a township must vote to approve the budget at the annual meeting.  Town of Gibraltar Chair Steve Sohns says after addressing questions and concerns, the two resolutions dealing with exceeding the levy limit by 20.66 percent, passed by a considerable majority.



The vote on exceeding the levy limit passed by a 28-18 vote while the resolution for electors to adopt the town tax levy was approved by a 24-17 margin. The town levy to be collected in 2021 will be $2,521,635.88.  Sohns appreciated the turnout of people that asked questions and provided input on keeping the Town of Gibraltar running efficiently.  



Rocks vandalized at Kewaunee County park

The Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department is looking for more information on who may have vandalized a number of rocks at a local park. The past two weekends, rocks at Bruemmerville Park, located west of Algoma were found vandalized. The most recent graffiti features artwork glorifying marijuana use. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says this kind of vandalism cannot be tolerated.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to call the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department with any information they may have available. You can reference case numbers 20-08386 and 20-08260 when calling. Graffiti in a park carries a fine and jail time in some cases.


Gibraltar Elementary opts for soft opening

School will still be in-session on December 7th for Gibraltar Elementary students, but there will be fewer of them there. On a 7-0 vote, the Gibraltar Area School District Board voted in favor of a more phased-in approach for kids coming to the school building for the first time since March. Under the plan suggested by Gibraltar Superintendent Tina Van Meer, students in kindergarten, first, and second grades will report to class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Students in third, fourth, and fifth grades will be in the building on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The elementary school will operate under that model until January 11th when all of the district’s students are expected to report for in-person classes. Van Meer says the more phased-in approach will allow the district to keep a close eye on their protocols and make sure they are working.

The school district is still looking at the latest COVID-19 numbers to determine if it is safe to go to school, though now they are just looking at its three population tracts rather than the whole county.  Van Meer says a recent survey done by the district showed about 60 percent of their parents were willing to bring their kids back to school, which is down from 80 percent at the beginning of the year.

4-H bringing holidays home

Brown, Door, and Kewaunee counties are bringing 4-H home for the holidays this month. For the second time this year, the three extension offices are joining forces to not only show off the fun its youth-based organization has, but also bringing families together for a collection of activities including ornament making and cookie decorating. Similar to its recently completed “Explore 4-H” series, “Home for the Holidays with 4-H” will also include an optional two-hour Zoom call where the families work on the crafts together with the educators from the three counties. Door County 4-H educator Dawn Vandevoort says the partnership between the three counties to create the at-home experiences in 2020 has been a joy.

Vandevoort says families are also getting a taste of what 4-H is like currently with the counties’ clubs meeting virtually or in outdoor, socially distant ways. Registration for the event ends on Wednesday.



Sturgeon Bay compost site making changes

To address the problems associated with illegal dumping, the City of Sturgeon Bay will be implementing changes to the operations and funding of their compost site.  Effective January 1, the yard waste and compost program will no longer be paid by the City’s general fund or property taxes. Municipal Services Director Mike Barker says the City’s program cost for the compost site is about $55,000 annually.  He shares the details of how the City’s yard waste and compost site will be funded.



People will have to show proof of residency to utilize the site.  Barker adds that a new access gate will be installed to help in controlling illegal dumping.  Fall hours at the compost site are in effect until December 15.  The site may be opened periodically in the winter after storms to allow property owners the opportunity to get rid of tree limbs and branches.  

"Giving for Sara Food and Hygiene Drive" helping pantries

For the eighth year in-a-row, the Kewaunee County Public Health and Human Services Departments are organizing a holiday donation program for local pantries in memory of one of their own.  The “Giving for Sara Food and Hygiene Drive” will be held during the month of December.  Health Officer Cindy Kinnard says the yearly efforts are a tribute to Sara Malay who passed away unexpectedly in 2013 while serving as the Aging Services Unit Director in Kewaunee County.  Due to COVID-19, mailed monetary donations are highly encouraged in place of in-person donations however drop-offs will still be accepted at the Kewaunee County Public Health and Human Services.



Suggested items to donate include canned chicken or tuna, canned fruit, cereal or granola bars, as well as hygiene products like shampoo, diapers, baby wipes, and deodorants. The “Giving for Sara Food and Hygiene Drive” runs from December 1st through December 31st.  You can find more information about the donation drive here.





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