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Sturgeon Bay Braces for Bassmasters

The Bassmasters are coming!

That was the message Pam Seiler, executive director of the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center, delivered to the Sturgeon Bay Common Council at its noon meeting on Aug. 18.

“They call it the Super Bowl of fishing,” Seiler said of the Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, which is being held in Sturgeon Bay Sept. 17-20. “This probably is the largest event we have seen here in our community.”

She described the event as similar to NASCAR, with professional bass anglers participating in nine tournaments to qualify for one of the 50 spots in the season-culminating Angler of the Year Championship. It’s the first time the event has been held in Wisconsin. Sturgeon Bay was chosen because in the spring of 2014 Bassmasters Magazine ranked the waters off Door County as the No. 1 bass fishing spot in the nation.

Seiler said in talking with other communities that have hosted the event in the past, the economic impact lasts far beyond the actual event and can add up to millions.

“We really felt as though it was a good investment in our community by bringing this event here,” she said.

Headquarters for the event is CenterPointe Marina. Seiler said two blocks leading up to the marina will be closed off to allow for a farmers market, various vendors and demos. Special events will be held during the four-day event, including Bassmaster Fan Day and Military Appreciation Day on Sat., Sept. 19. Seiler said anyone with a military ID just has to show it to receive a gift from Bassmaster and take part in a meet and greet with the Bassmaster anglers. Final weigh-ins and crowning of the champion begins at 3:15 pm on Sunday, Sept. 20.

She also mentioned the Adopt an Angler sponsorship, where individuals and businesses can sponsor an angler for $250. The sponsors will be hooked up with their anglers in a random selection at Kitty O’Reilly’s at 5:30 pm on Sept. 1. Sponsors of the top five anglers will take part in a special meet and greet.

Seiler said there is a desperate need for volunteers, and they don’t even have to know anything about fishing. Anyone who would like to volunteer for the event should call the visitor center at 920.743.6246 or email Pam Seiler at [email protected].

Other business conducted at the meeting included:

• Echoing the requests of many citizens, Alderman Will Gregory asked that a discussion of moving common council meeting times to the night be placed on the agenda for the next meeting. Mayor Thad Birmingham said he would take that under advisement.

• The council voted 3-2 to accept the low bid from De Groot, Inc., to replace a 1930 vintage sanitary sewer main and replace and relocate a storm sewer main as part of the West Waterfront Redevelopment project. There were only two bids for the project, and De Groot’s low bid of $244,120.77 was described by Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak as “higher than we hoped to see,” causing Alderwoman Kelly Catarozoli to move that the council reject the two bids and open the job up to bidding again. Alderman Will Gregory seconded her motion.

Olejniczak said the storm sewer work will have to be completed before construction of the hotel planned for the project, which he said the developer has a late spring/early summer 2016 opening date in mind. He also warned that reopening the bidding process wouldn’t guarantee better prices.

Alderman Ron Vandertie said the revenue to be generated from the hotel would supersede any lower bid, so he said he could not support delaying the bid.

Olejniczak said the DNR approval is the final piece of the puzzle for hotel construction to begin. “In the best case scenario, work could start in two weeks,” he said.

“We could be left scrambling if hotel construction is approved,” Birmingham said. “We could be paying dearly for this.”

When it came to a vote on Catarozoli’s motion, only she and Gregory voted to reject the two bids. Alderman Stewart Fett then moved to accept the bid from De Groot, which was seconded by Alderman Rick Wiesner. The motion passed, with Catarozoli and Gregory voting against it.

• Voted to sell a small strip of property to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at the intersection of Michigan Street and Hwy. 42 for the DOT’s roundabout project.

• Changed the city’s sign code to eliminate the 25-foot setback from the street for ground signs, to a five-foot setback.

• Approved special assessments for curb and gutter work to accompany reconstruction of Egg Harbor Road from N. 8th Avenue to Alabama Street. The resolution calls for 100 percent of the cost of the installation of curb, gutter and sidewalks be assessed to the benefitting properties.

• Alderman Vandertie reported that the Personnel Committee is in the process of finding a replacement for Sturgeon Bay Fire Chief Tim Herlache, who has served with the department since 1979 and retires in January.

• Alderman Wiesner reported that the Community Protection & Service Committee has scheduled a public hearing at 5 pm on Sept. 10 on allowing 1 Awesome Cab Company to operate in Sturgeon Bay.

• Alderman Vandertie reported that Sturgeon Bay Utility is going to replace 550 streetlights in the city with LED lights, with the help of Focus on Energy and WPPI Energy.

• Mayor Birmingham wished a happy birthday to city resident Emily Ploor, who turned 100 on Aug. 14.