Agreement on new trade pact a boost for Door County economy

Door County farmers and manufacturers would benefit greatly under the U.S Mexico Canada Agreement revision agreed to by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Trump Administration.  That deal was announced this week.  Canada and Mexico are Door County's largest trading partners.  Jim Schuessler, Executive Director of the  Door County Economic Development Corporation, says enacting the trade agreement would benefit area manufacturers immediately while some, like Therma-Tron-X in Sturgeon Bay, would grow over the long-term.


Schuessler says farm and dairy exports from Door County would grow with renewed and expanded trade with Mexico.

Veteran officer taking over as Kewaunee Police Chief

Jim Kleiman, the Kewaunee Police Department's interim chief, will be sporting a new title in the new year.  The word interim will be dropped when the 30-year veteran officially becomes Kewaunee Police Chief.  Kleiman has held numerous positions since joining the force in 1989 as a part-time officer. He's long aspired to become police chief and was named assistant chief in 2014.   Kleiman believes the transition to chief will be a smooth one because of his long ties to Kewaunee and help from his retiring predecessor.


Kleiman has also served with the Kewaunee Fire Department. One of his first duties as police chief will be to name an assistant police chief on January 6th.  The next step will be to recruit a new full-time officer.

Picking out the perfect telescope

The long winter nights and the Christmas season make this time of the year a busy one for people trying to select a great telescope for their personal use, or as a gift. Door County Astronomical Society President Dave Lenius says shoppers need to avoid the Christmas specials. You don't have to break the bank but what you'll find at a box store lacks needed features.


Members of the Astronomical Society are happy to give advice for first-time buyers. The right equipment could help turn an interest into a hobby and all of the rewards that come with it.


Anything cheesy a holiday hit for Luxemburg cheesemaker

The Christmas holiday season is bringing in a lot of green from out-of-state lovers of Wisconsin Cheese.  The Pagel Family Farm, which includes Ron's Wisconsin Cheese,  is seeing increased demand from all over the country for their gift boxes.  Erin O'Toole, the marketing director for the Pagel Family businesses, says customers want the tastes of Wisconsin's best on their tables for holiday entertaining.



In fact, O'Toole says anything with cheese curds is almost a guaranteed best-seller for their company.

What kind of winter is worst for roads?

It is not the severity of the winter that affects roads and infrastructure, it is the type and that is true for Door County as well. Door County Highway Commissioner John Koldziej explains what will cause potholes come spring.


While salt may be bad for the undercarriage of your vehicle, it has a minimal effect on the roads you drive. Because of the hardness of pavement it can't adapt to moisture's expansion and contraction as the temperature wavers around the freezing point. 

Holiday online demand strong for Door County goodies

Demand is strong for the tastes of Door County over the holiday season.  That's fueled by out of state customers looking to toast holiday meals with Door County wines, to have cherry treats for snacking and baking or some special coffee for Christmas breakfast.  Beth Levendusky, Marketing Director with Door Peninsula Winery in Carlsville, says online orders go into hyperdrive the week before Thanksgiving and continue through December.




Levendusky says some of Door Peninsula Winery's promotions for the holidays include free shipping for a full case of wine and gift baskets that include Door County cherry products and other treats along with the wine.

Local businesses need immigration reform

The accord between the White House and U.S. House Democrats to revise the agreement replacing North American Free Trade Agreement would aid farms and manufacturers in Door and Kewaunee Counties. The Executive Director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board believes immigration reform should also be a priority for President Trump and Congress.  Jim Golembeski says making it easier to attract immigrants is vital to fill jobs that cannot be filled by American citizens.




Golembeski says adding to the challenges facing farms and businesses is an unemployment rate of three percent.  That means employers have to offer higher starting wages and other incentives to compete for workers.

Local bed and breakfasts cater to microcations

Working millennials, those who reached adulthood in the early part of this century, are putting in long hours on the job and vacationing over short periods of time.    So area bed and breakfasts are positioning themselves as ideal destinations for three or four-day getaways or “microcations”.  The Allianz Vacation Confidence Index found that 57% of Americans took trips of four-days or less in 2018.  Kelly Catarozoli, the owner of The Foxglove Inn of Sturgeon Bay, says she has reworked what her B&B has to offer younger travelers and her marketing strategy.


Catarozoli says those changes have paid off attracting younger travelers year-round and not just in the peak summer vacation period

Open enrollment for health insurance ends Sunday

The deadline for health insurance coverage in the individual market is ending this Sunday with plans becoming effective January 1.  The Marketplace health insurance enrollment began on November 1.  Mike Walston of Robertson, Ryan & Associates in Kewaunee explains what to do if you currently do not have coverage on an individual basis.



Walston says the coverage has remained about the same but some rates have come down while insurance offerings have increased from one to three this year in Kewaunee County.


Kuhns filming new Carbon Man movie

Door County Geologist, filmmaker, and writer Roger Kuhns is in the process of producing another movie to add to his resume.  Kuhns wrote a play earlier this year called “The Continuing Adventures of Carbon Man”.  The play shares the importance of turning to a renewable energy economy.  He says the performances of Carbon Man a couple of months ago in Door County and Upstate New York went very well and inspired his new venture.



Kuhns has been traveling the country and recently was out west in the Mohave Desert this past week shooting footage of solar and wind farms.  He expects the film to be finished and debut next spring.      


Giving Tree helping underprivileged families

The Kewaunee County Food Pantry is helping to play Santa Claus next week with the collaboration of three New Franken parishes.  Ken Marquardt, executive director of the pantry, says the special program impacts 27 families in the area.  He explains how the Giving Tree is coordinated. 



Marquardt says families submit a “wish list” of items that the children would like and appreciate.  The families have been notified and will receive the Giving Tree packages next Monday and Wednesday at the Kewaunee County Food Pantry during the regular hours of operations.  The packages are bagged up and labeled to be easily claimed by the family in need.  St. Kilian, Grace Bible Church, and St. Thomas the Apostle were the participating churches in this year's Giving Tree.    


Antlerless hunt gives hunters second chance

Area deer hunters have another weekend to harvest a deer with their gun this year.  The four-day statewide antlerless-only hunt is underway through Sunday.  Local DNR Conservation Warden Chris Kratcha reminds hunters that you must register your deer within one day of getting it.



Door and Kewaunee County gun hunters will also have a chance to participate in the Holiday Hunt from December 24 through January 1.  The deer kill in the state was down nearly 25 percent this year during the traditional nine-day hunt in late November.

Manure storage hitting emergency levels

Farmers are looking to the Kewaunee County Board for assistance when it comes to safely storing and spreading their manure this winter. A second straight year of record rainfall and snowmelt is keeping fields too saturated to farm while 30-40 million gallons of manure remains in storage heading into winter. The board is asking Governor Tony Evers through a resolution to allow large farms to temporarily spread manure on land not under nutrient management plans, transfer to smaller, compliant pits, and stop collecting all leachate water. Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Committee Member and owner of Augustian Farms Aaron Augustian says farmers have been trying everything they can to accomplish what needs to be done while also being mindful of protecting the area’s surface and groundwater.

Since September, there have been 13 times where severe runoff flowed into surface water tributaries and affected Kewaunee County wells following manure spreading events. The Kewaunee County Board meets on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

Medical marijuana getting Republican support

Representative Joel Kitchens is the latest Republican member of the Assembly to show his support for legalizing medical marijuana in Wisconsin. Originally introduced by Representatives Mary Felzkowski of Irma and Kathy Bernier of Chippewa Falls, the bill opens the door for certified medical professionals to cultivate, process, test, and dispense marijuana to people suffering from certain ailments. Kitchens says he believes marijuana does have certain medicinal qualities and the bill still keeps it tightly controlled.

The bill does have heavy opposition in the state Senate among his fellow Republicans, which Kitchens says makes it unlikely it will get to Governor Evers’ desk even if it passes the Assembly. Medicinal marijuana is currently legal in 33 states, including Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois.

Concerts ring in the winter season

It is show time for area high school bands and choirs as school districts in Door and Kewaunee Counties cap off the calendar year with holiday concerts. While some groups will still play some other kinds of music during their concert, songs of the holiday season will dominate the playlist. Kewaunee band director Kelton Jennings says it is a good barometer for where his kids are at with music they may already know.

While Gibraltar and Sturgeon Bay held their holiday concerts earlier this week, Kewaunee, Luxemburg-Casco, and Algoma will hold theirs this weekend. Southern Door and Sevastopol host their high school concerts on Monday. MORE FM 102.1 will replay selected concerts Christmas week at 7 p.m.

Churches invest in family programming

Area churches are reaching out to young families to help sustain their membership for years to come. A 2016 Pew Research study shows kids raised in religious households often carry on with their faith at a time when more millennials are leaving the church every year. Congregations like Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church in Ellison Bay are increasing their outreach to families to help keep them involved with their faith. With help from the recently hired Director of Youth and Family Ministry Lynda Pietruszka, Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church Pastor Jim Honig says its ministry for young families is important.

Like many churches in Door and Kewaunee Counties, Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran is hosting a family-friendly service as a part of its Christmas celebration as well as activities like its children-led worship this Sunday and a “Happy Birthday Jesus Party” for its Little Lambs group on December 18th.

Farmers cheer USMCA vote announcement

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi announced earlier this week that a vote would happen on the United States Mexico Canada trade agreement and local farmers are celebrating. Trade negotiations have been wrapped up for months, but it sat neglected by the House with most expecting that the Democrat majority would refuse to give the president a major win during the impeachment process. Rich Olson says he’s all for it and he’s not alone.


Even farmers who are more apprehensive welcome the end to the uncertainty that has characterized trade relations in recent years.


Bird count Saturday at Ridges Sanctuary

The National Audubon Society is conducting its Christmas bird count Saturday with the Ridges hosting locally. The count has been a tradition since 1900 and occurs near Christmas because migration is now complete. Land Manager Matt Peter says what is left is known as the area’s resident bird population. That comes with one exception.


In addition to the bird count, A Natural Christmas happens Saturday from three to six PM. The overall event is free but activities like wreath making require a fee to cover the cost of materials. There was also a session to coincide with Harbor Holiday last weekend. Peter says the workshops are more popular than ever.


Bill protecting sports officials pending in senate

State Senator Andre Jacque is a co-sponsor of new bipartisan legislation that would increase the crime of harassing sports officials to a Class A misdemeanor. It currently has the support of the WIAA under the belief that it could improve the retention of officials at a time when there is a severe shortage. Currently, 75 to 80 percent of officials quit within two years. Jacque says it’s the penalties that are changing, not the crimes.


When determining what harassment is, significant discretion is given to judges. The bill is not meant to punish a momentary outburst or something yelled from the stands. It is designed to protect from physical altercations and conduct that could reasonably be perceived as threatening. 


CVSOs getting more help

County veterans service officers across the country would get some much-needed help from the federal government when it comes to processing claims if a bill backed by Wisconsin U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is approved. Introduced on Wednesday, the bipartisan bill would direct $250 million over five years to CVSOs to help provide the services and solutions for their area veterans. The bill takes aim at lowering the suicide rate among veterans by making sure they get enrolled in programs at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Senator Baldwin is hopeful the money is used to help the most in-need veterans.

A related bill Senator Baldwin also helped introduce would designate 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which would also include veteran-specific mental health support services.

Sacrificing safety for warmth not advised

Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Chief Chris Hecht hopes homeowners use extra caution when it comes to staying warm inside their homes this winter. Over 25,000 chimney fires occur nationally every year while space heaters account for a third of all winter house fires. Hecht says taking the proper steps before using your fireplace or space heater can help prevent a disaster from occurring.

Hecht also advises people to not use equipment intended for outdoor use like grills to warm your home as they could be not just a fire risk, but they can also increase your exposure to carbon monoxide.

Digester project keeps pace

While work in the fields has been slowed due to the wet fall and cold winter, it has not affected the work being done on a new digester project in Kewaunee County. Kinnard Farms in Casco is in the middle of the manure digester project near its new barn in partnership of Kewaunee Renewable Energy. By capturing the methane released in the farm’s manure digesters, it could potentially produce enough natural gas to provide energy for approximately 2,400 homes. Kinnard Farms owner Lee Kinnard says he is thrilled by the progress being made.

With similar projects also located at Dairy Dreams in Casco and Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy in Kewaunee, Kinnard says digesters like his could be something the industry trends towards, especially after the struggles many farmers had this fall spreading manure in a safe manner.



Picture from October courtesy of Kinnard Farms



Older demographics strain Kewaunee veterans resources

More than 15 percent of Kewaunee County veterans are over the age of 65 and those that have fallen through the cracks have done so for a long time. The other concern is that traditional veterans groups like the VFW and the American Foreign Legion have a demographic makeup in the county that doesn't resonate with younger soldiers according to Veteran Service Officer Robert Stearns.


Stearns says discussions regarding a new organization modeled off of NEW Battalion's Bravo Company are still in the early stages. The hope is that Stearns and Door County VSO Beth Wartella can find a way to bridge the generational divide to help foster a strong cadre of veteran organizations in Door and Kewaunee Counties. 


Moll balances ahead of new pastor

Twelve years after he received his calling to return to his home state from California, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Pastor John Moll received another one from the congregation just a few miles south. Since August, Moll has led not just his own congregation in Algoma, but also Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kewaunee. Immanuel Lutheran Church has been looking for a permanent pastor since Michael Sullivan left for Ottawa, Canada at the beginning of the year. Moll says there are two sides of every calling and understands the difficult decision of going somewhere new or staying where you are.

Moll’s double duty will end at the beginning of 2020 when Pastor Matthew Sprunger of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sanborn takes over.

Help of Door County finds new advocate

Looking to fill a position left open when Milly Gonzales took the position of executive director, Help of Door County has found a new advocate for the organization.  Citralina Haruo started her new job last week and Gonzales says Help of Door County is excited to add her to the staff.



Haruo, who grew up in Green Bay, says she will use her experience to help those in the community dealing with domestic abuse.



Gonzales and Haruo first met at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. last year.  They maintained a relationship that led to her applying for the advocate position.  


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