Honoring Andy's legacy in the field

Support for your family and others struggling with the impact of cancer can be found in the fields of Rio Creek.


The Andy Barta Legacy Charitable Fund was established three years ago after its namesake passed away from a battle with colon cancer in 2018. His wife Allison, moved by the support her family received in the wake of his passing, established the fund to pay it forward to other Kewaunee County families going through their own battles with cancer. Through several generous gifts and fundraisers, the Andy Barta Legacy Charitable Fund has been able to donate thousands of dollars to local families. Allison says the requests for help through their Facebook page ebbs and flows, admitting that some of the families they serve are too proud to ask for help, and she finds out about them through the grapevine. The fund donates money and gift cards to the families to help with groceries, gas, and other expenses. Allison appreciates the support her family and the charity still receive, saying it shows that Andy is still relevant in people’s lives and they believe in the work they are trying to do in his honor.


Andy’s love for agriculture shines through two annual fundraisers the Andy Barta Legacy Charitable Fund holds. This weekend, the fund will have a sweet corn sale, and on September 17th, they will return to Rio Creek Feed Mill for its pumpkin sale. All proceeds from the two sales go to the Andy Barta Legacy Charitable Fund so Allison and her family can provide even more assistance to Kewaunee County families affected by cancer. You can click on the links above for more information about the events.


Picture courtesy of the Andy Barta Legacy Charitable Fund

Sister Bay food truck ordinance gets hearing, village buildings possibly receive last rites

The Village of Sister Bay wants your voice heard regarding a proposed food truck ordinance. The new ordinance would allow mobile food-vendor courts in the village with up to four trucks per 20,000 square-foot lot. Additional regulations suggested in the ordinance set up rules for signage, seating, and health and safety concerns. It would also require food truck operators to purchase a permit from the village. Since the new ordinance requires changes to the zoning code, a public hearing will be held before the Plan Commission’s discussion and vote during their August 23rd meeting. 


It is part of a busy plan commission agenda where the future of the Sister Bay Village Hall, boathouse, and post office will also be discussed. At their July 26th meeting, none of the plan commission members spoke in favor of keeping the village hall, remarking that the building was no longer functional and not worth the money to make the necessary repairs needed to save it. If razed, the plan commission spoke about possibly building a visitors center or some other structure holding changing areas and bathrooms for the nearby public beach. 


As for the boathouse, plan commission members Rob Zoschke and Nate Bell said the structure broke up the village’s downtown area. A citizens group is trying to save the wooden boat known as “The Shadow” and has expressed interest in using the boathouse as a recreational boating museum. Plan Commission member Denise Bhirdo advised the rest of the committee to look through the Waterfront Master Plan and the Downtown Redevelopment Plan before making formal recommendations. The Sister Bay Plan Commission meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. You can attend virtually by clicking this link. You can read the full agenda by clicking this link.

Nasewaupee to split from Southern Door Fire Department in October 2023

You will see a new fire department formed in Door County beginning next October. The Town of Nasewaupee Board voted Thursday night to split from their agreement with the Southern Door Fire Department, ending a 42-year-old partnership. The feud over representation on the Southern Door Fire Board and the town’s contribution to the department’s budget, which represented nearly three-fourths of its funding, reached a boiling point earlier this year. A motion to split off from the Southern Door Fire Department was raised at the town’s annual meeting in April. When an agreement on either lowering its share or increasing its representation could not be met, Nasewaupee officials began appraising the equipment and the department’s north station, which resides in the town. Nasewaupee will have to pay the Village of Forestville and the towns of Forestville and Clay Banks for the pieces of equipment they choose to purchase at their fair market value as dictated in the Southern Door Fire Department operating agreement. Southern Door Fire Chief Rich Olson calls the decision disappointing but says it was a business decision the town felt it needed to do to have more control over the funding for a fire department. The split will not happen until October 1st, 2023, and Olson adds that residents will receive the same fire protection they have always received and should still feel safe. 

Door County remains at high COVID-19 community level

For the third week in a row, you are recommended to wear a mask inside most buildings, stay up-to-date with your vaccinations, get tested if you show symptoms, and take additional precautions if you are considered at risk in Door County.


Thursday’s release of the state’s COVID-19 community levels marked the third straight week Door County was placed at the high level. The metric is based on the number of new cases and hospitalizations and the current number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive people. Earlier this week, the Door County Public Health Department announced 59 new cases of COVID-19 out of 114 tests, in addition to two more deaths and three hospitalizations. Kewaunee County remained at the medium COVID-19 community level. They announced last Friday 39 additional cases but no new hospitalizations or deaths.


Traffic Alert: Highway 42 closes in Ephraim due to crash

A vehicle crash in Ephraim closed Highway 42 Thursday afternoon.  According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the crash occurred at about 2:30 near the intersection of Anderson Lane and Highway 42.   Door County Sheriff’s Department’s Dispatch confirmed that northbound and southbound lanes on the highway were still closed as of 5:30 pm.  State Highway 42 was closed until late Thursday due to power lines across the highway.  We will update this story as more information becomes available. 





New CDC guidance opens door to more normal school year

Your child’s school year could look as normal as it has since before the pandemic, thanks to new guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control last week. The CDC released its latest recommendations last Thursday before many schools across the country open their doors to students. Most schools in Wisconsin will not open their doors to students until September 1st due to state law. It acknowledges the ongoing pandemic but points out that approximately 95 percent of the population have either had COVID-19 or have been vaccinated against it. The updated document removed many recommendations, such as quarantining after exposure to the virus except in high-risk settings. Also gone is the rule that unvaccinated students exposed to the coronavirus should test for COVID-19 to stay in school, even if they do not have symptoms. They are now recommended to mask up if they have been exposed. Sevastopol Superintendent Kyle Luedtke says he will recommend to the board when they meet on August 24th to adopt many of the standards set forth by the CDC. That means only the students that become infected with COVID-19 will be forced to quarantine for five calendar days before they can return to class with a mask on for another five calendar days. Masking will be optional whether they are deemed a close contact or not.

Southern Door (August 15th), Luxemburg-Casco (August 17th),  and Algoma (August 22nd) and their school boards were also scheduled this month to discuss their COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the upcoming school year. 

Algoma arson suspect charged

A 24-year-old Algoma man is facing multiple felonies and misdemeanors after he allegedly tried setting a home on fire in the city earlier this month.


Filed in Kewaunee County Circuit Court on August 16th, Zackarie J. Clark was charged with three counts of burglary of a building, two counts of arson of a building, one count of misdemeanor theft, one count of obstructing an officer, and four counts of misdemeanor bail jumping.


On August 5th, Kewaunee County Dispatch responded to an early morning call that Clark attempted to break into a vehicle before entering a garage to break windows and light a home on fire in the 1000 block of Division Street. The house was unoccupied as it went under renovation by the Jandu family. While the Algoma Fire Department took care of the fire, the Algoma Police Department worked with the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department, the Kewaunee Police Department, and a Brown County Sheriff’s Department Canine Unit to track down Clark after he fled the scene on foot. Clark was arrested just before 5 a.m. After further investigation, they found hand tools that he had stolen in his vehicle.


He was placed into jail on a $25,000 bond on August 5th, and he had his initial appearance at the Kewaunee County Courthouse Thursday morning.

Cost-share program planting seeds for the future

Buying into different conservation efforts now could lead to better environmental outcomes in your community later. That is the goal of Peninsula Pride Farms’ cost-share program, which incentivizes farmers to try different practices in their fields to limit their impact on soil erosion and water pollution. Planting cover crops, splitting nitrogen application, and creating harvestable buffers are different ways farms can positively impact the environment if done correctly and receive a little help doing it too. Peninsula Pride Farms Board Member and certified crop advisor Nick Guilette says the program has been very beneficial on several different fronts.

Over 50 percent of Peninsula Pride Farms members last year participated in the cost-share program. Last year, more than 350,000 acres of land owned by members were covered by Peninsula Pride Farms members with conservation practices. Guilette says Peninsula Pride Farms has also teamed up with The Nature Conservancy to allow member and non-member farms to participate in some of the conservation efforts. You can find more information by clicking on the links below.  You have until October 15th to apply for the Peninsula Pride Farms cost-share program and November 15th for the one through The Nature Conservancy. 


2022 cost-share program enrollment

2022 TNC Cover Crop Trial Incentive Program

Northern Lights show possible again for Thursday night

If the clouds cooperate, you could be in store for another light show in the sky Thursday night. 


The National Oceanic Space Weather Prediction Center issued a G3 (strong) geomagnetic storm watch for Thursday after entering the area as a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm on Wednesday. If the storm materializes, the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, could be seen as far south as portions of Pennsylvania and Iowa.  While the Auroras are pretty to look at, NOAA warns there could be issues with navigation, operations with radios and satellites, and the power grid. Wednesday appears to have been the better opportunity to see the Northern Lights, with meteorologists predicting more cloud cover for Thursday. 

Unemployment in Kewaunee County among lowest in the state

You will still see plenty of help-wanted signs around Kewaunee County, but finding people who do not work is harder. At their meeting on Tuesday, Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Ben Nelson updated the Kewaunee County Board on the organization’s efforts. At 2.9 percent, Kewaunee County had the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the state in June. By comparison, Door County is in 11th place at three percent, and Brown County is 25th with 3.2 percent. It also means Kewaunee County’s labor participation rate is high at 97 percent. Nelson added that both numbers are higher than they were before the pandemic. Those two pieces of data show there is not a large local pool of employees to draw from, and if you are looking for work and are of age, you should not have a problem finding a job. Nelson pointed out ways Kewaunee County businesses can help attract employees to fill the over 100 vacant positions in the community.

Even more job opportunities are on the way in Kewaunee County as EnergySolutions ramps up its efforts to decommission the former Kewaunee Power Station. Nelson told the board that the company which bought the shuttered nuclear power plant late last year would like to finish its work in eight to ten years. 



During the meeting, the Kewaunee County Board also unanimously approved a resolution allowing the Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department to make a more than $60,000 purchase for body cameras. The department recently received  a 50 percent matching grant to cover a large portion of the cost.

Northern Sky Theater to host fall concert series

Even when the calendar turns from summer to fall, you will still be able to catch live performances under the Peninsula State Park sky. Northern Sky Theater announced this week its plans to host three different shows for nine days in September. The performances will feature the musical stylings of Northern Sky Theater standbys playing original music and a few tunes from the company’s musical catalog. Associate Managing Director and performer Holly Feldman says Northern Sky Theater fans will have one of their wishes granted with these offerings.

General admission tickets are $20 for the shows that run from September 1st to 3rd, 8th to 10th, and 14th to 16th at 4 p.m.. Karen Mal, James Kaplan, Katie Dahl, Jeff Herbst, Doc Heide, Dan Klarer, and Matt Zembrowski are among those performing during the nine-day run.

Door County YMCA CEO Erickson resigns

The Door County YMCA is on the search for another Chief Executive Officer after Heidi Erickson resigned from the role on Wednesday. She will stay on as the Door County YMCA CEO until September 16th. Erickson will still be involved with the YMCA as she moves onto the Fox Cities to be a Branch Executive for the Fox West YMCA in Greenville, Wis. Door County YMCA Chief Volunteer Officer Sally Pfeifer thanked Erickson for her almost two years in the role. She applauded Erickson’s role in the Door County YMCA’s successful capital campaign project, leading the organization through the pandemic and developing deeper connections with community partners. Erickson complimented the Door County YMCA’s staff and volunteers for their time, talent, and dedication. Pfeifer says they are in the early stages of their search process, which will include support from the national YMCA office. This was Erickson’s second stint with the Door County YMCA, previously serving as the Northern Door YMCA Branch Executive Director from 2016 to 2019. Her career with the YMCA has also taken her to Green Bay and Eau Claire.

Southern Door and BUG Fire joint train for "Mayday" rescues

Two local fire departments worked in unison Monday night doing rescue training they hope they never have to use. The Brussels-Union-Gardner and Southern Door Fire Departments team up twice a year for special training in the Auto-Eight partnership, where they have to respond to each other’s structure fire calls jointly. BUG Fire Chief Curt Vandertie says the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) training is to help refresh the skills of firefighters on standby in case a fellow firefighter in distress needs to be rescued.



Vandertie added that his department is having its busiest year in the past seven years while also responding to numerous structure fires with neighboring fire departments throughout Door and Kewaunee counties. He noted that the BUG Fire Department, like many other volunteer departments throughout the state, is struggling to fill day-time staffing and would welcome interested parties to reach out and apply online on the BUG Fire website.


(photo courtesy of BUG Fire Department)




Door County YMCA presenting Blues by the Bay

An event planned for next week in Sister Bay is set to help out the Door County YMCA’s Membership For All Program and bring out the blues music lover in you.  Blues by the Bay will be a casual affair that includes live entertainment with musician Paul Taylor and a Pop-up Taco tent.  Membership Experience Director Brett Cleveland shares other details surrounding the outdoor event.



Blues by the Bay will be from 6 until 9 in the evening on Wednesday, August 24.  All proceeds will benefit the Membership For All Program through the Door County YMCA Annual Campaign.  You can find out more about Blues by the Bay in Sister Bay and register for the event by clicking here.  

World of Honey bees on display at Crossroads Saturday

You can see first-hand how honey is produced at the so-called “sweetest” event of the year at Crossroads at Big Creek this Saturday.  The Community Honey Harvest will be held from 9 until 11 in the morning by the Door County Beekeepers Club.  The free program will have interactive activities demonstrating the importance of honeybees and their role in the environment.  Gretchen Schmelzer of the Door County Beekeepers Association says the educational stations will offer a close view of honeybees in action behind the glass widow of an observation hive.



Attendees will also have the opportunity to make beeswax wraps and rolled wax candles and view a demonstration of dipping hot wax candles.  A children’s tent will have a live drone honey bee for kids to pet and display hive boxes and beekeeper tools.  Bee-related items will be available for resale for the first time this year at the “Shop the Hive.”  Sales and proceeds of honey, soaps and shirts will go for youth beekeeping scholarships through the Wisconsin Honey Producers program.

City's patience wearing thin on Granary project

Several Sturgeon Bay Council members shared concerns over delays In the Granary project on the City’s westside waterfront. Project Manager Nicole Matson gave a status update on the Tewels & Brandeis Grain Elevator before Tuesday night’s meeting. Worried that the project was not progressing as promised, council members Dan Williams, Spencer Gustafson, and Kirsten Reeths shared their concerns.



After the consent agenda business was handled, the Common Council approved a Revised Development Agreement with the new Sturgeon Bay Plaza that is to be built on the waterfront. Owner Peter Gentry says the timeline is for the development to break ground in October with a planned opening in May of 2023.   A second motion passed regarding the donation agreement that will allow the developer to use public space for amenities around the building.

The City also delayed a decision to approve a lease of City land at Big Hill Park with US Cellular for a new cell tower for 60 days until more information can be gathered to finalize details and approval by the City Attorney.

A recommendation by the Community Protection & Services Committee for two Class B Liquor licenses was approved unanimously for Crate (BH Canvas, LLC) on North Third Avenue and Amagma, LLC, which will be a new business on Egg Harbor Road. The City of Sturgeon Bay still holds one Class B license available for the future.  

Before going into closed session for the last piece of business, Mayor David Ward informed the Council that an agreement had not been reached yet on the Right of way acquisition of real estate connecting Grant Avenue and Sawyer Drive. The Council then adjourned without taking any action after the closed session.

Nasewaupee looks to withdraw from Southern Door Fire Department

Thursday could be the day you see the Southern Door Fire Department break up. The Town of Nasewaupee Board is set to vote on a resolution authorizing the withdrawal from its fire station agreement pending the appraisal of the site near the Door County Cherryland Airport. Talks about the potential split began in April when there was a motion at the annual town meeting for Nasewaupee to leave the Southern Door Fire Department unless new terms, such as more representation on the fire board and less money towards the budget, could be reached. The town has hired consultants to appraise the fire station and its equipment. The board meeting is scheduled to take place at the Nasewaupee Town Hall on August 18th at 7 p.m.

League of Women Voters takes to the streets to celebrate milestone

You can celebrate women’s suffrage next week on the streets of Sturgeon Bay. The League of Women Voters Door County is continuing the tradition to celebrate the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, with a parade through downtown Sturgeon Bay to Martin Park on August 26th.. When they reach the destination, actors playing the roles of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony will address the crowd before Cathy Grier, and Tony Menzer from Cathy Grier and the Troublemakers take the stage. Parade coordinator Heidi Ling hopes the event is a reminder that we can never take our rights for granted, even if they have been around for over 100 years.

You can participate in the parade by dressing up and decorating your car, similar to what was done when Wisconsin became the first state to ratify the 19th amendment in 1920. Cars can start lining up at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Jefferson Street at 11:15 before the parade begins at noon.

Southern Door Board sends referendum questions to voters

Your mill rate from Southern Door School District is not expected to rise in the near future, even if two different referendum questions are approved this fall. The Southern Door School District Board unanimously approved questions 6-0 related to an operational referendum and a capital referendum. 


The operational referendum would allow the district budget to exceed the revenue limit by $975,000 annually for three years. These funds would be used for non-recurring expenses such as student support services, updating curriculum materials, maintaining current programming and technology, and wages. The capital referendum would authorize general obligation bonds to be issued for $14.9 million. Under the plans currently posted on the district’s website, new construction would include an indoor practice facility, a relocated weight and fitness room, and a greenhouse. The current district office building would also be torn down to make way for additional parking in front of the school building. The district office would then be relocated to what is now the fitness center.


Thanks to the district’s fiscal consciousness over the years, approving the two referendum questions would not increase the mill rate over current levels, according to Superintendent Chris Peterson. Informational presentations and school tours are being organized ahead of the November 8th general election when the two questions appear on the ballot. 

Manufacturers bucking recession threats

If there is a recession coming, you would not know it driving through the Sturgeon Bay Industrial Park. NEW Industries and Hatco are just some of the manufacturers in Sturgeon Bay in full-out hiring mode to meet the demands of their customers. Logistics Management magazine says manufacturing grew in the United States for a 26th straight month, with some orders being placed for as far out as 2024. Supply chain issues, in some ways, have helped keep things manageable for companies as orders are not getting canceled but merely moved. Manufacturing component parts for several different industries has kept NEW Industries owner Chris Moore and his company busy.

Moore added that the diversity allows them to stay steady even when other industries are not. He referred back to the recession in 2008, where their business only softened for approximately three months before they regained their stride and started to grow again. The Door County Economic Development Corporation shows dozens of manufacturing job openings across several different businesses in the county.

Home-based child care getting help

The answer to solving Door County’s childcare crunch could be living in your neighborhood. United Way of Door County is offering resources to those in the area who provide home-based child care as a way for community members to receive high-quality care if they cannot get into one of the few centers available. United Way Childcare Community Coordinator Jess Holland says census data shows there are about 850 kids in Door County under the age of four with only approximately 300 regulated childcare slots for them to occupy. Thanks to the Women’s Fund of Door County, the United Way is offering $500 grants for home-based child care, whether they are regulated or not. Holland says it is vital for caregivers in these situations to have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.

The United Way of Door County also provides workshops and free activity bags for at-home child care providers to give those individuals even more support.

Kewaunee County looks to purchase body cameras for Sheriff's Department

The next time you interact with a Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Deputy, you might be able to smile for the camera. The Kewaunee County Board will vote on outfitting the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department with body cameras for when they go out on duty. The total cost of the cameras is $61,273, with a grant secured by the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department covering approximately half of that. In addition to the initial cost of purchasing the units, instituting the program carries an annual maintenance fee of just over $8,400. The cameras will have to be replaced every three years. Board Chairperson Dan Olson says the grants they receive are crucial for any project like this undertaken by Kewaunee County.

The resolution before the board acknowledges that the use of body cameras by law enforcement has become the norm and has proven to be an effective tool for ensuring transparency and accountability. Seven states, including neighboring Illinois, have mandated law enforcement to wear body cameras. The meeting will take place on August 16th at 6 p.m. at the Kewaunee County Administration Center in Kewaunee. It will also be available online.

Door County sees first COVID-related deaths since June

We know more about why Door County remained at a high community level for COVID-19. In addition to 59 cases of COVID-19 out of 114 tests, the Door County Public Health Department announced two more deaths and three new hospitalizations. The 64th death since the beginning of the pandemic was the first Door County has seen since June 27th, and it has been even longer since the last time the department noted multiple deaths in the same report. Kewaunee County’s COVID-19 report was more positive, with no new hospitalizations or deaths but 39 additional cases. Door County is currently one of 27 counties in the high community level for COVID-19, and Kewaunee County is one of 27 counties in the medium level. The seven-day average for new cases of COVID-19 is 1,548, 84 less than one week ago. While the number of new cases is ticking down, the seven-day average for deaths was up from two to three.


Door County COVID-19 Case Counts - August 15, 2022 

Updated weekly on Monday when data available from the state. Case counts do NOT  include any at home testing results.  
Total Tests: 31,087 (+114)
Positive: 7,346 (+59)
Probable: 424 (+6)
Negative: 23,227 (+49)
Hospitalizations: 257 (+3)
Deaths: 64 (+2)
*Data regarding deaths may be delayed due to processing of medical reports at the state level. To see the timeline of when deaths occurred in Door County, follow the link below and use the filter to select Door.


Dairy distribution event coming to Southern Door

You can stock up on your milk and cheese ahead of the upcoming school year next week. With the assistance of local dairy farmers, producers, distributors, area FFA chapters, 4-H clubs, Maple Valley Mutual Insurance Company, and neighborhood volunteers, you will be able to grab a free cooler bag of dairy products at Southern Door High School. The distribution event is at 4 p.m. until supplies are gone on August 24th. The opportunity is similar to other events that have taken place since the beginning of the pandemic. The event comes at a time when inflation has caused dairy prices to be over 11 percent higher than they were one year ago.

Community Spotlight: Shanty Days Honoree Mitch Groessl

A pillar of the Algoma community was posthumously honored during the Shanty Days celebration this past weekend. Mitch Groessl, who passed away one day short of his 62nd birthday in June, was recognized as the 2022 Shanty Days Honoree during the Friday luncheon and parade on Sunday. Parade organizer Jim Rabas says Groessl did many great things for Algoma and was well known for his volunteer activities with Shanty Days.



Groessl was a fixture behind the bar at the Algoma Boat Club for many years and served on the Algoma Rescue Squad from 1982 until shortly before losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. Serving two terms as Algoma’s Ward 3 alderperson, Groessl was also on the Door County Medical Center Board of Directors before stepping down due to health reasons. The complete list of past Shanty Days Honorees is listed below.


Past Honorees Include:

2021-Katie Brandt and Tina Lawrence

2019- Sharon and Wayne Grosbeier

2018- Paul Schmidt


2017 – Aric and Brad Schmiling

2016 – Mary Dier

2012 – Judy Srnka

2011 – Bob and Jane Kuhn

2010 – Jerry Matuszek

2009 – Jerry and Bonnie Seiler

2008 – Merle and Kathy Colburn

2007 – Jan Dart

2006 – Jim Rabas Jr.

2005 – Earl Krueger

2004 – Mahlon Dier

2003 – Whitey Ellsworth

2002 – Gene & Ione VanPrice

2001 – Lee Rush

2000 – Maynard Zima

1999 – Ray Fulwiler & “Page” Knipfer

1998 – George Miller

1997 – Reiny Krause

1996 – Larry & Ann Schmitz

1995 – Edgar “Tiny” Nell

1994 – Clif & June Harmann

1993 – Emil Pagel

1992 – James Rabas Sr.

1991 – Ernie & Mabel Haack

1990 – Ron Leist

1989 – Jag Haegele

1988 – Art Dettman

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