Pandemic, inflation brings change to lunchroom

School lunches are not like what you remember growing up or even what they were before the pandemic. In March 2020, food service at schools like Sturgeon Bay had to switch from serving students in a line to boxing them up for delivery during the summer. For the last two years, school lunches went from being free and reduced for those qualified to complimentary for all as students made their way back into the lunch room. So far this year, the lunchroom operates similarly to what it was before the pandemic, but some factors still linger. For starters, Sturgeon Bay School District Food Service Director Jenny Spude says the option to have a free breakfast as they have had for the last two years stuck around because of all of the positives that surround it.

Much like your shopping experience, Spude has had to change things on the fly menu-wise as the supply for some products like tortillas can flux in a given week. She also says their bills have gone up as well.

Spude credits local suppliers for helping her fill in voids in her menu when she cannot get certain items from her two main vendors.

Living on purpose

Over the years, I have been fortunate to participate in numerous Leadership Development Courses both on the civilian side as well as with the military. A few years ago, I was introduced to a world class leadership organization located right her in Northeast Wisconsin. At the time Superintendent Glenn Schlender had invited me to one of their events as a visitor. I was immediate hooked as the content and delivery were unlike anything I had experienced before. The name of the organization is Initiative One, and just last year, our very own County Administrator Scott Feldt, who was also impressed by this organization made it possible for members of our County Leadership staff to attend their leadership Transformation series.


While some may think this type of training is not necessary for Department Heads, I would disagree as there is a big difference between management experience and leadership experience, and very seldom in our professional lives do we have the opportunity to develop and grow those leadership skills. One of the first fundamentals in this training is personal accountability. This means that we must be willing to have those tough conversations when necessary and constantly be conducting “Self-Checks” to affirm that we are in fact living each day by the standards we set not only for ourselves, but for those we are leading.


Another foundation of ethical leadership is “Living on Purpose”. This may seem rudimentary as we all live our days completing tasks and checking off our daily “To Do” lists. Many times, we confuse our occupations or personal obligations with purpose and there is in fact a difference. Purpose has been described by one wise person as “Where you have the greatest joy while making your greatest impact without wearing out your soul.”


I like to think of that statement in relation to a cell phone battery. There are certain things we must do every day that drain that battery down and other things we do that automatically charge that same battery. If we are lucky enough to be able to engage in those battery charging tasks, and in doing so bring about a positive impact to those around us, we have arrived at a life of purpose. For some, their jobs are truly just that, a place to derive a wage, while for others, their jobs bring about purpose. If you are one of those who does not derive purpose from your day-to-day occupation, there is good news in that you have the entire personal aspect of your life to incorporate this sense of purpose. We see this all around us every day in those who volunteer to make our community a better place.


This “Life on Purpose” approach not only brings with it an ability to fully enrich each and every day, but it also corelates to improved health both, mentally and physically. It changes our internal conversation from “I have to do this” to “I get to do this!”


Life is there for us to embark upon, but a little shift in mindset could make the journey an amazing one. It is up to each one of us to decide if we will merely survive in life or thrive in life. 

Tractors take break from fields for fun

You will see plenty of agricultural equipment roaming around Luxemburg this weekend, and it is not because they are heading to the fields. Students at Luxemburg-Casco capped off their homecoming week festivities by driving their tractors to school.

Over a dozen implements ranging from classic tractors to combines spent the day parked next to the school’s football field.



The Kewaunee County Fairgrounds in Luxemburg will host the 29th annual Agricultural Heritage Days on Saturday and Sunday. Organized by Agricultural Heritage and Resources, Inc., the two-day event hosts an antique tractor pull on Saturday, a garden tractor pull on Sunday, and agriculture displays and demonstrations. This year’s event will pay special tribute to Ferguson, Massey Harris, and Massey Ferguson implements as the company celebrates its 175th anniversary. The grounds are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.


Pictures and video from Stacy Jauquet and Jennifer Salentine

County to move on from Younkers building for museum/archives project

While you could see the Door County Historical Museum and its archives building expand in the coming years, you will do so without the former Younkers building. The Door County Board of Supervisors will look to move to Phase II of its Door County Archives and Historical Museum facility construction project. By entering this phase, the county can go deeper into the architectural design of the buildings and put the project out to bid. One part of the project that will not be a part of it is the former Younkers building property, which the county bought in 2019 for $505,000. Master plan discussions earlier this year showed no use for the building itself. After running the numbers three times, Door County Administrator Ken Pabich says it makes more sense to tear down and build new rather than renovate.

The Door County Board of Supervisors will also discuss a zoning amendment for a parcel of land near Gordon Road in the Town of Sevastopol. If approved, it would pave the way for an expansion of the Door County Child Development Center. The board meets on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Mentor hunting gets people into the woods

If you missed the opportunity to join in on a hunter safety course earlier this year in Door and Kewaunee counties, there is still a way to get you out into the woods this fall. Introduced in 2009, the mentor hunting program allows licensed hunters to bring their kids or other individuals into the mix as hunting seasons begin. Mentors and mentees can share one weapon and must stay within arm’s length away from each other. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says it has been a popular program, drawing 12,000 new hunters in its first year. DNR Conservation Warden Chris Kratcha says the mentored hunting program is an excellent introduction for people who may be interested in the activity but do not want to make the full commitment right away.

If you get bit by the hunting bug during the mentor hunt, Kratcha says you would be required to take a safety course if you want to participate by yourself. Otherwise, you could always take advantage of the mentor hunting program if you follow the rules, which you can find here.

Door and Kewaunee counties slip into low COVID-19 community level

Door and Kewaunee counties find themselves in the low COVID-19 community level for the first time in months, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Both counties have not been in that category since the beginning of July. The metric is based on the number of new cases and hospitalizations and the current number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive people. In this week’s Door County’s situation update, the public health department announced 30 new cases of COVID-19 out of 84 tests administered earlier this week and no additional deaths or hospitalizations. Washington Island is experiencing a surge, according to the Washington Island Community Health Program. They canceled their office hours along with some of their special events occurring due to the elevated cases on the island. Kewaunee County reported last week 26 new cases and no additional deaths or hospitalizations. Nearly half of the state’s counties, including Door and Kewaunee counties, are currently at the low COVID-19 community level.  


Door County COVID-19 Case Counts - September 19, 2022 

Updated weekly on Monday when data available from the state. Case counts do NOT  include any at home testing results.  
Total Tests: 31,591 (+84)
Positive: 7,632 (+30)
Probable: 444 (+2)
Negative: 23,515 (+52)
Hospitalizations: 261
Deaths: 66 
*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.



DCAS hosting new telescope open house Saturday

This Saturday, you can get the best view of the skies ever seen around the peninsula at a unique open house at the Leif Evenson Observatory in Sturgeon Bay. The Door County Astronomical Society is hosting the event at the Ray and Ruthie Stonecipher Astronomy Center within Crossroads at Big Creek. A new 17-inch PlaneWave telescope was installed last month, and President Dave Lenius says visitors will be amazed at the capabilities of the new capital improvement project that cost about $75,000 to install.



The event will also feature children's activities, including a "crater drop" to demonstrate how craters were formed on the moon. Planetarium shows will simulate night skies from 3 pm until dark.  If skies are clear on Saturday evening, the telescope will be up and running with live images shown on the big screen in the Astronomy Center. The Leif Erickson Observatory is located on the astronomical campus just off Highway 42/57 on Utah Street. 

Residents look to save Gills Rock fishing buildings

What may look like rundown buildings to you along the shores of Gills Rock are beacons of history for others in the community. The Town of Liberty Grove Board voted earlier this month to advertise bids to get rid of several old marine-related buildings owned by the Weborgs before they sold the land to become the future Mariner’s Park. The ad hoc committee in charge of redeveloping the property to become a park decided months ago that the buildings were in disrepair and no longer needed on the site. Not all community members feel that way. Mike Kahr began a petition to save the buildings a week and has already garnered over 200 signatures. He says the area’s commercial fishing history is within those walls and that so much can be done with the buildings without destroying them.

Saving the northern Door County’s maritime heritage is nothing new for Kahr. He is also part of the team behind efforts to protect the Sister Bay boathouse and turn it into a museum. He urges residents to speak with town board members and make their thoughts known.


Picture courtesy of Mike Kahr

You can sign the petition to save the buildings here

Influx of COVID-19 cases shuts down Washington Island Community Health Program

You can blame COVID-19 for making it hard to receive services from the Washington Island Community Health Program this week. An influx of COVID-19 cases forced WICHP to shut down through Friday. WICHP hosts the island’s Meals on Wheels program, resource library, food pantry, community van and more. In addition to those services, WICHP has also had to cancel its annual Packer Party, blood pressure screening, and Facts of Life Luncheon featuring Leslie Boden this week.   While Door County Public Health Department does not list its new data by individual municipality, it did report 30 new cases of COVID-19 out of 84 tests administered earlier this week. You can click on this link to learn when services will continue.



March turns into new organization fighting for women's rights

In the coming week, you will have another opportunity in Sister Bay to make your voice heard regarding women’s rights. Earlier this summer, over 250 people and 30 local businesses supported the Walk for Women, an event created in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to make abortion rights a state issue. At the time, Emma Cox was hopeful the march was just the first step for women’s rights advocacy in northern Door County, as more than 50 people indicated afterward they would like to help organize future events. With that, the group Northern Door Activism was born. They will host their next event at Peach Barn Brewery, where obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Kristin Lyerly will be joined by the area’s Democratic candidates for state Assembly, Senate, and Lieutenant Governor for a discussion on women’s reproductive rights. Cox is happy the issue has hit a chord in the community.

The panel discussion will begin at 5:30 p.m. on September 28th. If you have any additional questions about the event, you can learn about here. The panel comes a week before Governor Tony Evers hopes members of the Wisconsin Legislature come to Madison to address the current abortion law on the books by allowing voters to introduce ballot initiatives and referendums. This is the second time since the Supreme Court’s decision has prompted the Democratic governor to address the abortion ban with a special session. In June, the Wisconsin Legislature gaveled in and out of the special session without discussion. Wisconsin law currently bans nearly all abortions and criminalizes those intentionally harming human life. While Evers would like to see the ban reversed, his Republican opponent, Tim Michels, supports the current law. 

One dead, two injured in multi-vehicle highway crash

A Florida man died and two others had to be transported to area hospitals following a multi-vehicle accident north of Sturgeon Bay on Wednesday afternoon. The accident occurred just before 2:45 p.m. on State Highway 42/57 near Walker Road in the Town of Sevastopol after the Florida man reportedly crossed the centerline in his vehicle while traveling north and struck the rear tires of a semi-trailer heading south. The impact sent him in the direction of a sports-utility vehicle that was also heading south. The  60-year-old man and the 53-year-old woman tried to avoid the collision when they pulled onto the shoulder. The Florida man was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of the sports-utility vehicle was airlifted to Green Bay hospital while his passenger was driven via ambulance to Door County Medical Center. The Sevastopol Fire Responders, Sturgeon Bay Fire Department, Door County Emergency Services, Door County Highway Department, Door County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wisconsin State Patrol Crash Reconstruction Unit responded to the accident. The Brown County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy on the deceased individual later today. No names have been released until family members can be notified. The accident is still under investigation.

Accident shuts down highway north of Sturgeon Bay

UPDATE: You can read an update about Wednesday's fatal accident by clicking this link.


A potentially severe accident shut down a major Door County highway Wednesday afternoon. Emergency personnel began arriving at the scene of the accident near the intersection of Walker Road and State Highway 42/57 after 2:30 p.m. The Door County Sheriff’s Department quickly shut down northbound traffic on STH 42/57 at the roadway’s split near Mill Supper Club just before 3 p.m. The department also had to divert southbound traffic north of the accident scene. 


The highway was able to be reopened a few hours later, but the accident is still under investigation according to the Door County's Sheriff's Department.



We will update this story as soon as more information is made available.


Culver's, cops serve up goodwill

Wednesday was one of the few days you are thrilled to see a police officer come up to your vehicle. Members of the Sturgeon Bay Police Department and Door County Sheriff's Department were busy bringing butter burgers and frozen custard to customers as a part of the annual Cops at Culver's Day for the Police Lights of Christmas campaign. Started by Q90 in the Fox Valley, the daylong event collects donations from community members and earns a portion of the sales at Culver's restaurants to go towards outreach efforts in the winter months. Lt. Kyle Veeser says they use the money to buy gift cards that they pass out to residents who look like they need a little extra help or pick me up during the holiday season. Culver's of Sturgeon Bay owner Austin Hildebrand says it means a lot to him knowing the program's impact on the community. While the final amount to be donated will not be known until the end of the business day on Wednesday, last year's event raised $2,275 for the cause. You can learn more about the campaign by watching the video below.



Baileys Harbor prepares for Autumnfest this weekend

Another Door County festival will kick off the fall season this Saturday with the annual Baileys Harbor Autumnfest.  Baileys Harbor Community Director Cindy Ploor says the event will kick off with the Hey Hey 5k Run at 8 am that honors the famous Polka King Freddie Kodanko. She shares the details of the Classic Auto & Motorcycle Show, including a special appearance of the Pin-ups during a photo shoot on Saturday morning.



Activities will be held at the town hall, and the live music will feature "Big Mouth and Power Tool Horns" at Kendall Park from 11 am until 3 pm. You can find the calendar of events for Saturday's Baileys Harbor Autumnfest below. 


Hey Hey 5K run @ Door County Brewing 8 am

Pin Ups & Pistons Car Show 9 am - 3 pm

Arts & Crafts Fair 9 am - 4 pm

Food & Drink Vendors 9 am - 4 pm

Car Show winners announced - 3 pm

Live Music - Big Mouth & the Power Tool Horns 11 am - 3 pm



(photo from 2021 Autumnfest)

"Youth in Government" informational meeting October 3

Your middle or high schooler has the opportunity to experience a program that gets students more involved in government and learning the process of how it works. The Door County YMCA Youth in Government program has three sections that cover the legislature, judicial, and press corps. Program and Innovative Director Tyler Powell says the program's success over the years culminates with a spring trip to Madison.



The Youth in Government is open to any Door County student from 7th to 12th grade. An informational meeting will be held at the Sturgeon Bay YMCA Program Center on Monday, October 3 at 6:30 pm for parents and students interested in finding out more about the Youth in Government organization. You can listen to the entire interview with Tyler Powell about the program and the annual trip in March to the Wisconsin State Capitol on the Y Wednesday podcast page here.

Algoma Utilities offering grant for EV chargers

You may see the first electric vehicle charging station popping up in the Algoma area soon. Algoma Utilities has a grant program that provides up to $5,000 for commercial businesses of Algoma Utilities to purchase and install electric vehicle chargers. Energy Services Manager Markie Bsherer says a few companies have expressed interest already.
She shares how the grant for the Level 2 or 3 charger can be obtained.



To be eligible for the funding, a business must submit a letter requesting assistance. The grant request deadline is October 28, and the purchase of the EV charger must be made by December.   You can find more information on the EV Chargers grant on the City of Algoma or the Algoma Utilities website. 

Council gets personal tour of Granary, passes levy special assessments

Sturgeon Bay Common Council members not only received a monthly update on the Granary Tuesday but had the opportunity to tour the facility before their meeting. Mayor David Ward and four alders visited the Granary Tuesday afternoon. They then listened to an update at the Council meeting by Sturgeon Bay Historical Society President Laurel Hauser and Granary Project Manager Nicole Matson on the recent progress.



After passing the readings for two ordinance changes on rezoning a parcel of land and a Municipal Code on non-moving violations, the Sturgeon Bay Council approved three resolutions on the agenda. The resolutions authorized Improvements and Levying Special Assessments for two improvements, including the alley on the north side of Kitty O’Reilly’s parking lot to South Neenah Avenue. The other was for the sidewalk improvements on North and South 14th Avenue.


In his Mayors Report, Ward thanked departing Planner/Zoning Administrator Christopher Sullivan-Robinson, who is leaving for an opportunity in Colorado Springs next week, for his years of excellent work.
The final piece of business was a closed session on the Right-of-way acquisition of real estate connecting Grant Avenue and Sawyer Drive, in which the council adjourned without taking any action.

Liberty Grove to address room tax allocation Wednesday

The growth of short-term rentals and other lodging establishments in Liberty Grove has created a good problem for its town board to tackle on Wednesday. Last year, the town received approximately $80,000 from its portion of the room tax collected by its local lodging partners. In years past, roughly 90 percent of that would go to local groups like Door County North and the Liberty Grove Historical Society. The remaining 10 percent was slated for the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Department’s reserve fund. Room tax collections are booming across the county, but especially in Liberty Grove, thanks to the area’s popularity and an increase in the room tax itself. According to Door County Tourism Zone data, collections through July were up over $110,000 compared to the same period in 2021. Town chairperson John Lowry says they need to make some adjustments to address other areas of their budget.

The Town of Liberty Grove Board will meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. at its town hall.

Mental health taking driver's seat during harvest time

Even more important than what you see happening inside their tractor cab or in their fields during this time of year is what is going on inside the minds of area farmers. According to a 2021 Wisconsin Watch report, the suicide rate among male farmers is 43.2 per 100,000, much higher than the national rate of 27.4 per 100,000. The pandemic has only added to the stress farmers face, which includes crop prices, the weather, and their lengthy lists of daily tasks. Extension UW-Madison Regional Dairy Educator Aerica Bjurstrom says the combination of rural living and personal pride among farmers has led many to struggle with mental health, especially during the harvest season.

Bjurstrom urges residents to check in with their neighbors to see how they are doing. This week is National Farm Safety and Health Week, a time where there is an extra emphasis for farmers to be physically and mentally safe. The AgriSafe Network is putting on online seminars all week related to farm safety, two of which address mental health. Extension UW-Madison also has its own resources related to mental health and farmers.


Picture and additional content thanks to U.S. Ag Centers

Peninsula State Park installs new accessible playground

Your children will have a new playground to play at the next time they head to Nicolet Beach at Peninsula State Park.


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officially welcomed guests to the new playground made possible by donations to the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Unlike its predecessor, which had wooden equipment inside a wood chip-filled pit, the new playground features a rubberized surface and in-ground features like a merry-go-round and rain wheel to allow children of all abilities to enjoy.


Park Superintendent Eric Hyde thanked the Friends of Peninsula State Park for their fundraising efforts, which raised over $130,000 for the project and replaced the playground in just over a year. Judy Ortiz of the Friends group is excited for the families who come to the state park and can now use the new accessible playground when they visit the beach area.


It is the latest project the Friends of Peninsula State Park have taken on recently, as they have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the new Eagle Tower and nature center projects. 

Sidewalk construction to close Michigan Street lane on Wednesday

Making it easier for you to walk along Michigan Street is why it will be harder for you to commute through Sturgeon Bay over the next few weeks.


City Engineering Technician Brian Spetz announced Tuesday that the westbound lane of Michigan Street between 10th and 12th avenues would be closed to traffic for two to three weeks beginning on Wednesday, September 21st, due to sidewalk construction. The lane will only be closed when crews are on-site to work on the project, allowing it to reopen during other parts of the day.


Once the work begins on Wednesday, Spetz estimates the project will take two to three weeks to complete. He suggests motorists stay out of the construction zone area if possible until the work is completed for your safety and the safety of the workers.

Door County Economic Development adds Koepsel and Mallien to staff


The Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) has hired two familiar local faces to their organization.  Bailey Koepsel and Korey Mallien have joined the long-standing nonprofit in director positions.  Koepsel, who has been the Executive Director of the Door County Historical Society since 2018, is the new Director of Accounting and Operations, while Mallien will be the Director of Marketing and Communications.  Mallien rejoins the DCEDC after being the Activities Director for the Southern Door School District for four years.  He worked at the DCEDC from 2017-18 as the Business & Education Partnership Manager and has 25 years of experience as a newspaper sports editor.  The DCEDC is a public/private partnership working to improve the economic vitality of Door County and its residents.  

Ephraim continues to weigh new alcohol ordinance

Buying packaged alcoholic beverages during an upcoming visit to Ephraim is on the horizon, but it will likely still take a while. The Ephraim Village Board has been trying to tackle the issue of Class A Alcohol licenses for several weeks as they have tried to iron out details like determining certain limits on how much and where packaged liquors can be sold in the area. At their August meeting, some trustees expressed a lack of interest in Ephraim having a liquor store as other communities do. Village Administrator Brent Bristol said last week’s meeting continued looking at the metrics that would be used to either accept or decline a license application if an Ephraim business wanted to sell products under a Class A Alcohol license.

Bristol believes it will take a few more meetings after the village staff crafts a draft ordinance before the final regulations could be agreed upon and licenses would be made available.

New COVID booster part of upcoming vaccine clinics

You will be able to protect yourself from severe cases of the flu and COVID-19 in one stop in the coming weeks. The Door County Public Health Department has scheduled several vaccine clinics throughout the peninsula from Washington Island to Brussels. In addition to the flu vaccine, the newest formulation of the COVID-19 vaccine will also be available after the Door County Public Health Department received its first doses last week. Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control, the newest booster is supposed to protect you better from the Omicron variant, which is responsible for approximately 94 percent of all new COVID-19 cases. Door County COVID Response Coordinator Bill Hartmann says they have been holding off on other booster shots for individuals as they waited for this one’s approval.

The flu shots will carry a small fee, while the COVID-19 boosters will be administered at no charge. You can find a list of the upcoming clinic dates below.


Thursday, October 6th 10:00am—2:00pm

Washington Island Airport Building 1291 Airport Road


Tuesday, October 11th 1:00pm—3:30pm

Peninsula Room, Government Building 421 Nebraska St. Sturgeon Bay


Thursday, October 13th 11:00am—5:30pm

Drive Thru at Central EMS Building 14th Ave Sturgeon Bay


Thursday, October 20th 12:00pm—5:00pm

Drive Thru at Sister Bay Fire Station 2258 Mill Rd, Sister Bay


Thursday, October 27th 10:00am—4:00pm

Peninsula Room, Government Building 421 Nebraska St. Sturgeon Bay


Tuesday, November 1st 12:00pm—5:00pm

Drive Thru at Brussels EMS Building 1080 County C, Brussels


Thursday, November 3rd 12:00pm—5:00pm

Drive Thru at Sister Bay Fire Station 2258 Mill Rd, Sister Bay


Tuesday, November 8th 1:00pm—4:00pm

Aging and Disability Resource Center 916 N 14th Ave, Sturgeon Bay

Sister Bay Village Hall remains focus at local meetings

The fight to keep the Sister Bay Village Hall standing along the waterfront continues this week at a pair of meetings.


The aging structure has been on the agenda for several recent meetings for the Village Board and its Parks, Properties, and Streets Committee as officials decide whether it is worth the money to rehabilitate the Village Hall. The village has received approximately two dozen letters of support for keeping the structure, citing it as one of the last remaining structures built with locally sourced stone and that it represented the area’s quaintness that some have said has deteriorated in recent years. Two letters supported tearing down the building, with one challenging the structure’s historic credentials because of roof repairs done in the 1980s. The other would like the building torn down and replaced with a patch of grass so there can be an unobstructed view of the bay.


Because of the outpouring of support for saving the building, Parks, Properties, and Streets Committee member Denise Bhirdo recommended at their August 30th meeting that the village get a quote on what it would take to rehabilitate the building. She also said it is imperative for the village property owners to know that their property taxes could increase if the structure stayed. Another public input meeting was held on September 7th. The Village Board will discuss the correspondences, additional comments, and concerns at their meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Parks, Properties, and Streets Committee will continue their conversation about whether they should retain or raze the Village Hall at their Wednesday meeting at 5:30 p.m.

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