News

Bridge maintenance starts Tuesday

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Northeast Region office gave notice that annual spring maintenance on the Bayview Bridge, Michigan Street Bridge, and Maple/Oregon Bridge in Sturgeon Bay will be taking place at different times over the next few weeks. On Tuesday, April 20th, the Maple/Oregon Bridge will be under a full closure from 7 AM to 4 PM. 

 

On Monday, May 3rd there will be a full closure at the Michigan Street Bridge from 7 AM to 4 PM. The following day, May 4th, there will also be a full closure from 7 AM to 4 PM at the Bayview Bridge. Traffic will use a signed detour for all bridge closures, and the bridges will be open to marine traffic.

 

Door County ends week leading way

Through the last week, Door County has the highest rate of first-dose vaccinated individuals in Wisconsin. The place at the top of the state persists even after the cancellation of Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinics in the week. As of Saturday, Door County has 56.7% of residents who’ve had the first vaccine dose and 38.9% who have finished the series. 89.6% of residents age 65 and older have received at least one dose in Door County. Without the Johnson & Johnson clinic, over 1700 less residents were vaccinated this week than the previous week. 

 

In Kewaunee County, 34.5% of residents have received at least one dose and 25.4% of residents have completed the series. In Kewaunee County’s 65 and older population, 69.8% of residents have received at least one vaccine dose. Just 413 residents were vaccinated this week in Kewaunee County after the Johnson & Johnson clinic cancellation, which is a drop from 1176 the previous week.

 

New alert system in Door County

Door County Emergency Management is offering a new and free severe weather alert system that can be accessed through mobile devices.  The CodeRED system will offer alerts through phone and/or text messages to anyone in Door County.  Door County Emergency Management Director Dan Kane explains that the new CodeRED system will provide more than just weather alerts.

 

 

In order to receive the alerts, you must sign up on the Door County Emergency Management website or text “DoorCounty” to “99411” to enroll.  Options include having the CodeRED alerts sent to you by email, phone calls, and texts.  Kewaunee County has also installed a similar system for emergency alerts

 

News release


Rock Island State Park to open by Memorial Day

People could be able to visit Rock Island State Park for the first time in over a year beginning in May according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The department announced a number of spring operations updates earlier this week, including the reopening of Rock Island State Park. One of the state’s most isolated attractions, Rock Island State Park was closed last year due to high water levels making it difficult for the Karfi ferry to make the trip from Washington Island and safely transport passengers. The park will remain closed until at least May 27th to allow for dock repairs and for the dredging of the area around it. Friends of Rock Island State Park President Tina Jacoby is happy to see that the park will be open for visitors.

The organization donated $25,000 to the DNR for an assessment of the dock in March. Jacoby added that plans are underway for its annual Independence Day weekend picnic. The DNR also announced earlier this week that it would be relaxing some group size restrictions and observation towers like Eagle Tower can open to visitors on April 30th.

School boards look to get past pandemic

Area school boards like Gibraltar Area Schools’ hope the worst is behind them when it comes to the pandemic. For over a year, COVID-19 has dominated the agendas of area school board meetings as they determined safe reopening protocols after the shutdown in March 2020. Gibraltar’s reopening took longer than other area school districts, not reopening its doors to elementary students until December and to its secondary kids in January. Newly re-elected Gibraltar School Board member Angela Sherman says it was hard to find the right solution for the issue as a parent and a community member with no common plan among all Door County schools.

Sherman adds that there are a lot of different issues she is looking forward to being able to accomplish after the pandemic put much of it on hold, including taking a deeper look into their enrollment and their financial health.

Door County’s school saw a fair amount of change in its school boards after last week’s election. Sherman will be joined by newcomers  Amie Carriere and Erick Schrier on the Gibraltar Area School Board while Angela Kruse, Roger Wood, and Damion Howard were elected as new members of the Sturgeon Bay School Board.

 

Photo from Angela Sherman Gibraltar School Board Member Facebook page

Two hospitalized this week in Kewaunee County

In this week’s Kewaunee County COVID report, two were hospitalized and twenty-seven tested positive bringing the total number to an even 2600 positive tests. Sixteen people made recoveries over the week and there were no deaths. As of Friday there are twenty-four active cases in the county. 

 

Kewaunee County is up to 33.6% of residents with at least one vaccine dose and 24.7% who’ve finished the series. In Door County, 55.9% of residents have had a vaccine dose and 37.2% have completed the series. In Wisconsin, 38.5% of residents have had at least a dose of the vaccine.

 

 


Viking Voice heard loud and clear

Gibraltar High School’s Viking Voice publication received a second place general excellence award in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation’s High School Better Newspaper Contest. This is an improvement from last year when they received third place. Each year the Voice enters two issues and several individual articles for the foundation.  The group also earned a $1,000 scholarship for their newspaper fund. There are several ideas being tossed around about where to spend it, several dealing with technology advancements. The paper will also have to decide if they will continue to publish a digital copy moving forward. 

 

The Voice’s Advisor, Patrick Knapp, credits the students for the outreach the paper has achieved. He knows it takes going above and beyond, as it’s an extracurricular activity for the paper staff as opposed to a class. The paper was presented with obstacles brought on by the pandemic, as they no longer grouped up in person to bounce ideas off of one another and assign others to different features. Editor-in-Chief Lily Sweeney was able to take charge in getting a virtual meeting plan going so the paper didn’t miss a beat. Knapp notes it didn’t take long for the process to properly flow.

 

 

Knapp is impressed at the paper’s continuous improvement, the student’s creativity, its engagement with local and national topics, and the students’ personality shining through in writing. 

 

 

The following individual’s won WNA Foundation awards:

 

Theo Goode: Second place, feature story - Pros and Cons of Virtual Learning

 

Betsy Lecy: Third place, Public Affairs Reporting - Dollar General Proposes to Locate on Egg Harbor Land

 

Lily Sweeney: Honorable mention, Public Affairs Reporting - Door County Public Health Officials Beg Residents to Stay Home

 

Makena Murre: Honorable Mention, Feature Story - Performing Without an Audience

 

Wisconsin furthers Johnson and Johnson delay

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced the pause on administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID19 vaccine will continue until a federal recommendation to lift it is made. The extension comes two days after a federal review by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The committee has recommended a pause while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects and analyzes more information about possible links between the vaccine and a rare and severe type of blood clotting. DHS Secretary-Designee Karen Timberlake said they appreciate the level of complexities being considered by this national panel of independent experts in their review of the vaccine. Vaccination clinics in Door and Kewaunee counties that had been scheduled for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were canceled for this past Wednesday and Thursday.

Warning about COVID fatigue amid Michigan surge

Even with Door County leading the state in vaccination rate, Dr. Jim Heise is still advising people to not pull back too quickly in regards to the pandemic. The shrinking demand for the vaccines and the success of other providers in the area is causing Door County Medical Center to discontinue its mass vaccination clinics by the end of the month. It will still hold smaller vaccination clinics in the community, including times at NEW industries and Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay. Across the lake, Michigan is providing a cautionary tale for states as it experiences a third surge. Michigan has been leading the nation in coronavirus cases for the last two weeks as thousands are being admitted into local hospitals. Door County Medical Center’s Chief Medical Officer admits he is not privy to all the details regarding Michigan’s issues, but Heise believes it is partly due to people letting their guard down.

Heise added that the impact of COVID-19 variants is also complicating the response to the virus. Michigan, for example, has over 2,000 cases involving the UK strain. Door County reported one case of the South African variant earlier this spring, but Heise says no additional infections from that particular strain have been detected since in the area.  

 

You can listen to our full interview with Dr. Heise here


Districts contemplate continuation of remote learning option

Parents in Door and Kewaunee counties may still have the option of keeping their kids home for remote learning next school year. While most students in Door and Kewaunee counties have had the option to attend in-person classes over the last year, school districts have allowed families to keep their kids at home to learn remotely as a pandemic-related precaution. Sturgeon Bay School District will still give families that option next school year, though it will look different. At the high school, students will have five days to see if the remote learning option is still right for them before having to commit for at least a quarter. They will also have a specific online teacher they have to meet with at least every two weeks and failing a course could require them to go back to in-person learning.  At Sunrise Elementary School, the students will also be assigned a specific online teacher and will have to commit to at least six weeks of remote learning before a possible return to in-person learning. Sturgeon Bay District Superintendent Dan Tjernagel says much like the pandemic has changed over the course of the last year, their plans will likely evolve as well to fit the needs of their families.

Sturgeon Bay’s other schools are still finalizing their details for next school year. Kewaunee and Gibraltar’s school board have spoken about the future of their virtual learning options at meetings held earlier this year. Washington Island School District Superintendent of Business Services Sue Cornell says the topic will come up at its meeting while Sevastopol Administrator Kyle Luedtke says they will tackle that topic this summer. You can click on the links above for more information on the Sturgeon Bay schools’ remote learning options for the 2021-2022 school year.

Kovarik signs off in Door County

After three years of reporting on local news in the area, Door and Kewaunee counties will return to being just a playground for reporter Terry Kovarik and his family. Kovarik concluded his stint with DoorCountyDailyNews.com on Thursday before continuing his radio career in the Fox Cities. It is the latest stop on his journey in broadcasting, which included nearly 30 years at WFRV-TV in Green Bay. One of the topics that piqued Kovarik’s interest during his tenure included how rising water levels impacted shoreline communities in Door and Kewaunee counties. Like many of the stories he covered, he was left impressed with the resilience of the area’s residents. He hopes the sense of positivity continues.

Kovarik’s experience in broadcasting started at his alma mater of Central Michigan and moved onto WLUC-TV in Marquette, Michigan before starting in the Green Bay area in 1990. He begins his new role at WHBY-AM in the Fox Cities next week.

Final detail work before Eagle Tower opens

Visitors to Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek will soon be able to climb Eagle Tower for spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding areas.  The 1932 tower was dismantled in 2016 due to safety concerns.  The final detail work on the new 60-foot tower is now under way.  Park Superintendent Eric Hyde says the new Eagle Tower will be ready to go after the final inspections are completed.
 


Eagle Tower and other state park towers are scheduled to open to visitor traffic on April 30th.


Local advocates support legislation for faster sexual assault kit testing

A bill requiring law enforcement agencies to submit sexual assault kits to the state crime lab faster is getting support from the Sexual Assault Center operated by Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin.  The legislation requires health care professions to notify law enforcement officers within 24-hours of a reported assault.  Investigators would then have to forward sexual assault test kits to the crime lab within 72-hours.  Sexual Assault Center Program Manager Holli Fisher says having clear guidelines for faster testing is needed to avoid the massive backlog that delayed testing for years.
 



The bill also gives sexual assault survivors the needed time to recover and begin working with law enforcement officers.
 


The bill, which has bipartisan support, now goes to the State Assembly for further consideration.

Door County adds a handful of new cases

Door County reported five new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.  The active cases bumped up to 102 while no new hospitalizations or deaths were disclosed.  With 33 test results performed, the positivity rate was 15.2 percent in Door County.  That figure compares similarly to the state’s rate on Thursday of 16 percent.   

 

Statewide, The Department of Health Services noted 943 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 56 hospitalizations and three deaths.  DHS also released improvements to the COVID-19 hospital data on its website. The dashboard has been expanded to include more information about the status of Wisconsin hospitals.  You can find more information here

 

 

 

Street projects in Sturgeon Bay taking shape

Contractors in the Sturgeon Bay area are starting 2021 Mill and Pave Roadway work that will be a help to business and property owners beginning this week. During the curb work period City Engineer Chad Shefchik does note that for the safety of the workers he would prefer drivers to take an alternate route away from the work area. Shefchick says during the time periods of removing asphalt, grading, and paving the roads worked on will be closed, to all but those who live within the construction zone. 

 

 

The city is also in coordination with Wisconsin Public Service to get started with work on South Neenah Ave this year. Shefchik knows many residents are excited about work on that area, but also understands the importance of waiting until WPS gets the gas line replacements completed. He says they are doing well and making good progress. 

 

 

The roadways listed below will have the existing asphalt pulverized in place. After that is completed, the roadways will be graded and paved. The new asphalt pavement should be completed by Tuesday afternoon, weather permitting:

 

-Alabama Street from N 3rd Ave to N 5th Ave 

-N 4th Ave from Alabama Street to 525 south of Alabama Street

-Alabama Street from N 15th Place to N 18th Ave.

 

Starting Friday the following roadways will be marked out for concrete curbing and/or sidewalk replacements. They will be cut in the near future with concrete removals and replacements to follow shortly after. 

 

-Memorial Drive from S 3rd Ave to S 9th Ave

-S 9th Ave from Memorial Drive to Texas Street

-N 18th Ave from Michigan Street to Iowa Street

-Alabama Place from Bonnie View Drive east to its termination

-N 6th Ave from Delaware Street to Belmar Street

-Belmar Street from N 6th Ave. to N 5th Ave. 

 

 

Group to host year's first Conservation Conversation

Brussels crop farmer Michael Vandenhouten has a good problem to sort through when he hosts Peninsula Pride Farms’ first Conservation Conversation in just under two weeks. Vandenhouten planted oats and tillage radish in his field near the corner of County Highway C and Plainview Road as a way to protect the soil from the winter weather and loosen it up as well with its roots. The cover crops grew almost too well thanks to good weather in the fall and now there is a lot of dead material on the field ahead of soybean planting. With some options not possible, Vandenhouten says the Conservation Conversations provide a great sounding board among other farmers.

The Peninsula Pride Farms Conservation Conversation starts at 5 p.m. at the corner of County Highway C and Plainview Road on April 27th. The series is held on a monthly basis at different farms across Kewaunee and southern Door counties.

Washington Island School receives important funding

Important funding sources for Washington Island School District came to light last week thanks to local voters and the state and federal governments. By a 251-188 margin, voters will allow the district to exceed its state-specified revenue limit by $675,000 for the 2021-22 school year and $775,000 for ongoing operational expenses. The district has gone to referendum over 20 times since 1995, including almost every other year since 2000. Many of the referendum questions posed cover the district’s operational expenses due to the widening gap between what can be levied and funding they receive from the state.  Washington Island School District  Superintendent of Business Services Sue Cornell says they could not afford to give students a quality education without community support.

Thanks to federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund (GEER), the district has so far received $280,818 and it could receive even more in the future. Despite having an enrollment of fewer than 50 students, Cornell says they still have to do the same things other school districts have to do to keep them and the staff safe.

Cornell pointed out that a portion of its ESSER II funds could go towards plans like making their washrooms touchless for students, staff, and visitors. Washington Island School has been in-person the entire year outside of a three-week period around the Christmas holidays when the town was experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Indoor shooting range planned for Sturgeon Bay

Hunters and other gun owners won't have to drive outside of Door County to tests their firearms and skills in a controlled climate.  Steve Estes and Scott Virlee are planning to build an indoor shooting range at the site of the former Save a Buck store at 1019 Egg Harbor Road in Sturgeon Bay.  The building had previously been owned by Palmer Johnson.  The indoor firearms range would open under the name Virlee Gunworks. Estes says the range should appeal to gun owners like himself and will offer range memberships.  Estes also says people can rent shooting lanes by the hour and try a firearm before buying it.

Once the plans get city approval, Virlee Gunworks hopes to open for business by August 1st.

Door County Medical Center to end mass vaccination clinics

After administering over 10,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Door County Medical Center is discontinuing its mass vaccination clinics at the end of the month. In a release from the hospital, the demand for continued vaccinations has dramatically decreased in the past few days as more providers have been able to provide appointments. The efforts of the hospital, Door County Public Health, local pharmacies, and others have helped Door County lead the state of Wisconsin with close to 55 percent of its residents receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Door County Medical Center, which distributes the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, will still hold smaller clinics in the future as needed and will continue with second-dose appointments.  

 

FULL RELEASE

Sturgeon Bay, WI. We are proud to share that Door County Medical Center has now administered almost 10,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and fully vaccinated about 3300 people!  As of April 14th, Door County is leading the state of Wisconsin with 54.7% of residents having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.  This is fantastic news and is a testament that our residents care about the health and safety of themselves and those around them!

 

Due to the fast start in vaccinating our community and the efforts of Door County Public Health, local pharmacies, and others, the demand for continued vaccinations has dramatically decreased in the past few days.  Therefore, the COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics held at Door County Medical Center will be ending at the end of April.  We will schedule smaller clinics going forward as needed and will continue with second dose appointments as scheduled.  

While 54.7% is a great vaccination rate, we want to help Door County do its part in reaching herd immunity by getting to at least 80%.  We want to urge you to make an appointment now if you have not received your vaccination. 

 

Door County Medical Center is providing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination which is a two-dose series for anyone 18 years of age and older.  You can access the link to make an appointment here:  https://www.dcmedical.org/covid19

 

 

 

 

Homebuilders face competition for skilled trades workers

Building a home in Door County, Kewaunee County, and everywhere else this summer will likely take time and cost more.  That's because there are fewer skilled trades employees and more competition for those who are available.  Jeff Dorner, with Van's Lumber of Dyckesville and Egg Harbor, says there has been an acute shortage of carpenters since the Great Recession.

 


Dorner says those craft workers still on the job have travel limits.   Some will go the extra miles for the jobs which can add to the costs of some skills and materials.

 


Dorner says it's becoming a common practice for some skilled trades workers to start the day on one project and move to another worksite or more as needed.

Nearly ten Door County positive tests

Wednesday’s COVID19 report from Door County shows that thirty tests were conducted and eight of the tests were positive. No new hospitalizations or deaths were reported. In Door County 55.2% of residents have received at least one vaccine dose and 35.6% have completed the series. In Kewaunee County, 33.2% of residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 24.4% have completed the series. 

Luxemburg man passes away after accident

92-year-old Roland DeCremer of Luxemburg passed away on Wednesday from complications suffered after a three vehicle accident in the town of Luxemburg. The initial investigation determined that DeCremer was driving a 2018 red Ford Escape and turning east on State Highway 54 at County Line Road and failed to yield to an Eastbound 2015 International semi-truck. DeCremer’s vehicle hit the side of the semi, and after striking the semi, a Westbound 2007 silver Buick Rendezvous struck DeCremer’s vehicle. 

 

DeCremer and his passenger, Irene DeCremer, were trapped in their vehicle and freed by Luxemburg Rescue. They were transported to a medical facility in Green Bay. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor, and the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the accident. 

 

Financial Literacy a priority during pandemic

April is a month to recognize financial literacy, and some important questions or concerns have become more urgent since the beginning of the pandemic. One way to stay ahead of potential issues that may arise in the future is to have a solid understanding of where you are financially and keeping a good budget says Money Management Counselors Executive Director Leslie Boden.

 

 

Boden says there aren't too many surprises financially since the COVID outbreak began, but people have had to address issues that were brewing pre-pandemic. Boden understands stimulus checks can help, but also acknowledges that they aren’t permanent. 

 

 

Boden also stresses tailoring each person’s plans to them specifically as everyone has different needs and circumstances. One of the biggest generational differences Boden sees in clients is younger generations moving to paperless banking and app usage, whereas older generations tend to prefer a paper trail that is more tangible. 

 

New flavor coming to Cherry Hut

The White Cottage Red Door, just two miles south of Fish Creek, is seeing a change in operations from personnel to services, and is going by the name Door County Cherry Hut. Now managing the Cherry Hut is Trent Synder, who also manages Bridge Up Brewing. Taking on this additional venture isn’t something that was always sought out, but when the opportunity came, he didn’t want to pass it up. 

 

 

Snyder finds it important to maintain the integrity of what Ray’s Cherry Hut and previous owners did to make it special, but also plans to add unique twists. The typical cherry products such as pies, jams, jelly, and other Door County staples will still be sold. There will be fresh food available as well like hot dogs, street tacos, and rib tips. The Cherry Hut will also be shedding light on small businesses by sourcing products from others and women-owned businesses around the country. 

 

Along with offering beers from Bridge Up Brewing, Cherry Hut will feature a wine-tasting room and distribute privately labeled wines, especially fruit-based wines that Door County patrons have come to love. One addition that Snyder and company look forward to most is the new outdoor patio.

 

 

There’s currently a lot of moving parts that make the official open date uncertain. Snyder would like to be open in some capacity in early May, and hopes to be fully operational by Memorial Day weekend. 

 

Supreme Court votes against capacity limits

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruled that Governor Tony Evers does not have the authority to issue limits on capacity for bars, restaurants, and other businesses without legislature approval. There hasn’t been a statewide capacity limit restriction in place since October. The order that was issued on October 6th limited the size of indoor public gatherings to twenty-five percent of a building or room’s occupancy, or ten people in places with no occupancy limit. The order was blocked by a state appeals court on October 23rd.

 

The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Wednesday that the order meets the definition of a rule, which must go through legislature. This comes two weeks after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ended the state’s mask mandate.

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