Coal tar legislation will see quick results

Legislation banning the use of coal tar sealants on asphalt driveways and parking areas in Wisconsin will yield some fairly quick results, according to a member of the Clean Water Action Council.  The state assembly unanimously approved AB 797 banning the sale of sealants containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.  Dean Hoegger, CWAC President and Executive Director, says there will be residual effects on ground and surface water locations.  But the positive impacts of the ban will be seen quickly.


Assembly Bill 797 is one of four bills approved to improve water quality.  Senate Bill 716, which would also ban coal tar sealants, is now being scheduled for consideration in the Wisconsin State Senate. 

Door County to see expo center benefits

The newly named Resch Expo center in Green Bay could create a symbiotic tourism relationship between Brown and Door counties.  The $93-million exposition center is currently under construction and is expected to generate $13-million in annual business.  Resch Expo will be able to book larger acts and events than the former Brown County Arena. Jon Jarosh, Communications Director for Destination Door County, believes that will draw some more visitors to Sturgeon Bay and points beyond.



The Resch Expo facility is expected to open for business in January 2021.

Ridges applauds Jensen honor

The establishment and growth of The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor have been made possible by the late landscape architect Jens Jensen.  Now his successful preservation efforts have earned him admission into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame.  Jensen initially retired to Ellison Bay in 1935 and established The Clearing Folk School to train landscape artists.  In 1937, Jensen and others turned their efforts at some property that Door County had targeted for development.   Steve Leonard, Executive Director of The Ridges, says their persistence kept the land that now makes up the Ridges Sanctuary in its natural state.



Prior to coming to Door County Jens Jensen had served as superintendent of the City of Chicago's West Park System and also helped establish the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

School and law enforcement relationships avert crises

Law enforcement agencies in Door and Kewaunee counties are cultivating relationships with school staff and students to avert potential crises.  School resource officers have led efforts to get to know those in the education settings so employees, parents and students can feel confident in notifying law enforcement agencies about potential problems.  Kewaunee County Sherif Matt Joski says that can help his department and others respond appropriately before and after problems arise.



Joski says should an unknown or sudden emergency develop in any Kewaunee County school his department responds with all available resources until a safe setting is established.



Feed/Clothe My People donations slow

Pantries throughout Door and Kewaunee counties are looking to restock their shelves for the upcoming spring demand.  Estella Huff from Feed and Clothe My People says the organization has seen a significant decline in both donations and families utilizing the pantry in the last month.  She shares some of the most needed items at this time.



Huff adds that she has noticed more single adults coming in and fewer families with children visiting the pantry weekly.  Feed and Clothe My People of Door County is open four hours a day Monday through Friday with drop-off available at the back of the North 14th Avenue location. 


Board of Supervisors candidate forum Monday at Sevastopol

The second in a series of forums hosted by the League of Women Voters of Door County will be this coming Monday and feature candidates for the County Board of Supervisors.  The forum will be held at the Sevastopol Town Hall and begin at 6:30 pm.  Volunteer Dan Powers says attendees can submit questions that are screened by league members to make sure a variety of topics are discussed.



Participants include Helen Bacon and Erin Tauscher for Sturgeon Bay’s District 7, Laura Vlies-Wotachek and Dan Williams in District 9 and District 16’s Elizabeth Gauger and Randy Halstead representing Egg Harbor and Jacksonport.


Tips on driving during snow removal times

Safety on the local roadways includes dealing with heavy snow removal equipment when the time comes.  More snow cleanup on the roads was done in the past two weeks as the Door and Kewaunee communities dug out of over a combined foot of snow.  Mike Barker, municipal services director for the City of Sturgeon Bay, says roadways are not the only place drivers need to be aware of snowplow-equipped vehicles.



When the next snowstorm hits, Barker suggests that drivers slow down, give the plows and graders plenty of room and do not try passing them on the roads.  He says the best advice he can give is to stay off the roads if possible. 


Former humane society director appeals conviction

The former executive director of the Door County Humane Society plans to take her conviction to the federal courts.  That follows a Wisconsin State Supreme Court decision to uphold her conviction and sentencing for embezzlement.  Carrie Counihan was charged with using a humane society credit card for $20,000 in personal purchases.  She pled no contest to five misdemeanor charges and seven felony charges were dismissed.  Prosecutors recommended probation and restitution.  Door County Circuit Court Judge David Weber, however, sentenced Counihan to nine-months in jail.  Door County District Attorney Colleen Nordin is satisfied with the state supreme court decision.


Counihan challenged the jail sentence and charged the attorney who represented her at trial with ineffective representation.  Calls to Counihan's last attorney of record, Ana Babcock, for comment were not returned.

Door County Fair working towards number 150

The 149th Door County Fair is still more than five months away, but that is not stopping organizers from planning for its big anniversary.  The Door County Fair Board is already in contact with some bands and attractions for its 150th event, which encompasses the last days of July before dipping its toes into August. Fair Board member Tim Ash says they usually start planning for the next fair a few months after the last animals and rides leave the lot at John Miles County Park so they can get their final requests into the Door County Board. The landmark anniversary makes things a little different.


Boogie and the Yo-Yoz, Glas Hamr, Head East, and Whiskey Ditch are just some of the bands playing this year’s Door County Fair, which runs from July 29th to August 2nd.


Rep looks to unclog immigration courts

With over a million cases waiting to be heard in immigration courts, Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher is looking to do something about it. Late last month, Gallagher introduced the Empowering Immigration Courts Act, which would allow judges to impose criminal fines on anyone found in contempt.  He believes that while much of the political debate is focused on the wall and border security, not enough attention is being put on the strain felt by immigration courts.

Gallagher says passing the bill would not only give judges the tools other courts do but also prevent people with legitimate asylum claims from getting crowded out.

Corn decisions growing for farmers

A different variety may be needed in order for farmers in Door and Kewaunee Counties to harvest corn rather than discontent this fall. Soil moisture was a big factor in farmers not getting out to their fields to plant until the early summer and out to harvest until after the first snow had fallen this winter. Kewaunee County UW-Extension Agriculture Agent Aerica Bjurstrom says farmers will need to consider corn varieties that mature at a faster rate this year.

While the corn grows quicker, Bjurstrom says the yields are usually lower than varieties that take longer to mature. Farmers can get more answers for their planting and harvesting questions on February 27th at the UW Extension’s forage and soil meeting at the Kewaunee County Fairgrounds.


Bluegrass keeps strumming along

With roots dating back to the 1930s, it is the evolution of bluegrass that keeps Terry Murphy of The Cherry Pickers carrying a tune. For three years, Murphy, John Rood Lewis, Pete Evans, Ken Stillman, and Karen Stillman, have toured mostly around Door County playing their blend of bluegrass, Americana, and roots rock styles. Like any genre, Murphy says bluegrass has changed over time because of the melting pot of influences that music, in general, has become.

The Cherry Pickers are the local entry in June’s Sol Grass Festival on Washington Island. The musical group also has a gig in Baileys Harbor on their schedule for March.


Picture courtesy of The Cherry Pickers Facebook page

Teens feel pressure not to report dating violence-- Series Part III

A youth program by Help of Door County is teaching teens to recognize what makes up a healthy relationship.  Executive Director Milly Gonzales says the students that participate in FYRE, which stands for Forging Youth Relationships and Education, are sensitive to the issues facing their peers. Situations that are faced by teens can also put pressure on them to not report the abuse. 



Gonzales adds that teens may feel additional pressures because of a first-time dating experience and their parents questioning their decision-making abilities. This story is the third in a series during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  You can find more information on FYRE and services provided by Help of Door County below.


(photo of FYRE courtesy of Help of Door County) 



Adopt-A-Soldier program gets needed help

The Adopt-a-Soldier of Door and Kewaunee counties has found an organization to step forward to help with their care package program.  Director and founder Nancy Hutchinson says the Door Bible Baptist Church in Brussels agreed earlier this year to help pack the care packages.     Sent to over 100 local military personnel all around the world, Adopt-a-Soldier distributed 985 care packages last year alone.  Hutchinson, who plans on retiring this year but wants to remain involved in the organization, says hopes are for the church to take over the entire program eventually. 


The Adopt-a-Soldier program also assists qualified military veterans needing help in paying day-to-day expenses and emergency needs.  Applications for that program are available through the Door County Veterans Services office in Sturgeon Bay.

Kids from Wisconsin performance set for July 

One of the most popular and entertaining shows at the Southern Door Community Auditorium will be returning this summer.  The Southern Door Community Auditorium announced that Kids from Wisconsin will be performing on Monday, July 27.  The two-hour show features 36 performers that range from age 15-20.  The 52nd Kids from Wisconsin auditions are currently being held with performances scheduled all summer throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. The most talented 36 will be chosen, including 22 singers/dancers and 14 instrumentalists. Ticket information for the show at the Southern Door Community Auditorium will be released in the near future.


(photo courtesy of Southern Door Community Auditorium)   




No decision on Quarry RV Park yet

In a marathon Resource Planning Committee meeting, everyone had a chance to weigh in on the proposed Quarry RV Park project Thursday. Committee staff gave their assessment of whether the proposal complied with relevant regulations and zoning ordinances. Mike Parent and Tom Goelz, the developers, were joined by project engineers and an appraiser to argue in favor of the proposal. They got 90 minutes to make their case before the committee, followed by a lengthy question and answer session. Then the Bay Shore Property Owners Association was allowed 90 minutes. They chose to have several residents each speak to various aspects of their case for why the project should be rejected. Public comment saw ten people weigh in, all opposed to the development. Finally, there was a rebuttal session in which each side was only allowed to address points made by the opposite party. The meeting lasted over eight hours.

Parent and Goelz were adamant they did not get a fair shake at last month’s meetings before the Sevastopol Plan Commission and Sevastopol Town Board. Goelz said Thursday was more equitable, but the project continues to be held to a high bar.


The committee will reconvene Wednesday at 1 PM in the Peninsula Room of the Door County Government Center.




The hearing was held in the ADRC Building on 14th Avenue in Sturgeon Bay.


Water quality credit legislation goes to Governor's desk

Wisconsin could be the home of the nation’s first water quality credit system after legislation sailed through the State Assembly earlier this week. The bill has also passed in the State Senate. The Environmental Protection Agency requires that point-source polluters limit agricultural runoff like nitrates and phosphorus. Those regulations change over time, and the incremental cost of getting below the cap has become expensive, says State Representative Joel Kitchens. He says it may be cheaper to have a waste treatment plant fund small projects that eliminate the pollution “upstream” at the local farm level rather than invest in new filters or other technology to try and strain it out right before discharge into lakes and waterways. Kitchens’ bill sets up a new water quality credit clearinghouse that facilitates cooperation between large point-source entities and smaller farms or golf courses.


The bill is headed to the desk of Governor Tony Evers, where Kitchens believes it will be signed. The bill has support from several industry groups, including the Dairy Business Association.

Washington Island students take robot swimming

Four fifth grade students from Washington Island School will be taking their robot Ramona for a dip at Green Bay Southwest High School on Saturday as a part of a national competition.  Over the last several weeks, the students led by teacher Miranda Dahlke built an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) as a part of the National SeaPerch Competition. With the Mosling Recreation Center as her practice arena, “Ramona” will be competing in an underwater obstacle course and a water clean-up mission. Washington Island School Principal Michelle Kanipes says it is great to see the STEM components of science, technology, engineering, and math come alive in such a unique way.

Washington Island will compete against 20 teams on Saturday for a chance to take “Ramona” for a road trip to the National SeaPerch Competition at the University of Maryland in May.  




Photo courtesy of Washington Island School from when they along with students from Sturgeon Bay and Sevastopol School District gave their robots a chance to operate at the Door County YMCA pool in Sturgeon Bay.

Orchards surviving the snow and cold

Though the fruits of their labor will not be seen for a few more months, orchard owners in Door County are working hard this winter to help ensure a productive season. Wood Orchard in Sturgeon Bay is increasing the number of crews it has to make sure trees are pruned while they sit dormant. The snowdrifts have made pruning efforts difficult in some cases, orchard owner Steve Wood says everything else has been going along just right.

Wood admits the tree could have been deeper into dormancy if the area had a colder winter. He does not expect the trees and the upcoming crop to be negatively affected by it unless there is a major warm-up in the coming weeks.

Continuing Barta's legacy

Just over a year after losing his battle with cancer, the late Andy Barta continues to have a positive impact in Kewaunee County. Attendees to last year’s Kewaunee County Fair saw Andy’s name memorialized on boards used to direct animals during the hog show. Recently, the Kewaunee County Board accepted a donation on behalf of his parents, Jerry and Tammy Barta, from the Rio Creek Feed Mill, Forest Construction, and the Kewaunee County Farm Technology Days Committee to construct a show ring pavilion at the fairgrounds in Luxemburg in his honor. His wife Allison continues to build the Andy Barta Legacy Charitable Foundation, which supports other families in Kewaunee County directly affected by cancer. Balancing her career and raising four children with the foundation’s work, she is proud of the positive impact the organization has had in its short time.

The Andy Barta Legacy Charitable Fund has donated over $10,000 to Kewaunee County families since its inception.


Click here for more information about the fund and how you can help support their efforts.

Local scouts council committed despite bankruptcy filing

You can still count on members of the Boy Scouts of America serving Door and Kewaunee Counties despite the national organization filing for bankruptcy Monday. The BSA was forced to file under the weight of hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits across the country. According to National Public Radio, the BSA has been thinking about the possible bankruptcy filing since late 2018. In a statement from Bay-Lakes Council President Bill Braun, he says they are not involved in the bankruptcy filing. The council, which covers Door and Kewaunee Counties, controls all of the camps, properties, and local contributions. Braun says there should be no change in the local scouting experience, adding that all meetings, district and council events, and countless service projects are taking place as usual. 


Picture contributed



Scouting is strong in Bay-Lakes Council, with more than 18,000 youth and nearly 5,000 volunteer leaders served in 2019. All local Scouting programs are continuing as usual. We remain as committed as ever to delivering a safe and impactful Scouting program in Eastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Bay-Lakes Council has not filed for bankruptcy. Meetings and activities, district and council events, other Scouting adventures and countless service projects are taking place as usual. In short, there should be no change to the local Scouting experience.


The national organization of the Boy Scouts of America is the only entity involved in the Chapter 11 filing. The Bay-Lakes Council – which provides programming, financial, facility and administrative support to local units and individual Scouts in our area – is separate and distinct from the national organization. Our camps, properties and all local contributions are controlled by our council.


The national organization’s press release can be viewed here. Should you have any additional questions about today’s news, please reach out to




Bill Braun

Council President

Sturgeon Bay Council modifies granary agreement

Several actions were taken at Tuesday’s Sturgeon Bay Common Council meeting to help spruce up the west waterfront. The council went into closed session to discuss modifying its agreement with the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society over ownership of the granary. The building is now owned by the Historical Society. Administrator Josh VanLieshout says there are new requirements for the granary when it opens as a public pavilion including restrooms.


Additionally, the council approved the west waterfront promenade development that was under consideration. The proposal was initially pitched two weeks ago and was subject to a public hearing last Monday. After changes were incorporated and presented Tuesday, the council commissioned final designs.


Big Brothers Big Sisters readies for year's biggest event

If bowling strikes your fancy, you’ll have an opportunity to rattle some pins for a great cause on Saturday, February 29th. Door County Director Patty O’Rourke says the event is the largest fundraiser of the year for the chapter, with all proceeds staying locally to help children. O’Rourke says the event is so big that it has to be split into two sections to accommodate all of the groups expected to participate.


The fun happens at Apple Valley Lanes in Sturgeon Bay, beginning at 3 PM. All participating teams are guaranteed two games of bowling, shoe rental, snacks, and more. Even if you aren’t rolling for strikes, you can be a part of numerous prize raffles and other activities.


Owl prowl at The Ridges sure to be a hoot

It’s nesting season for several species of owls in Door County, and The Ridges sanctuary wants to ensure you have a chance to be a part of it. There will be a rare twilight hike next Friday that begins at the Albert Fuller Nature Center and ends at the preserve’s Logan Creek property. Hikers get to make owl calls and see what kind of attention they can attract. The owl prowl hike is a precursor to Owl-O-Rama the next day. Program Manager Katie Krouse says there will be an opportunity to get hands on.


The Ridges offers programs year-round at its facilities in Baileys Harbor.


Zoupart takes over Kewaunee Fairgrounds Sunday

Fresh off a donation from the Green Bay Packers Foundation, the Bruemmer Park Zoo looks to keep the momentum rolling Sunday. Zoupart begins at 11 AM and involves soup and art, as the name implies. Art from Kewaunee students of all grades is also on display. Middle schoolers create decorative bowls that are handed out to patrons. Kewaunee County Parks Director Dave Myers says there will be plenty of options as far as what goes into those bowls.


Once you’ve sampled all of the offerings, you have the chance to vote on which soup is best. The zoo is busy with two projects for 2020, a new education center and a pheasant exhibit.


Photo courtesy of the Bruemmer Park Zoo.


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