The Year in Community 2023

Boys & Girls Club Regional Merger Includes Door County

The Boys & Girls Club of Door County and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, which includes the Boys & Girls Club of Shawano, merged as one organization, effective March 1. The Door County club previously entered into a management agreement with the Green Bay club regarding support for key administrative functions. All locations remained open.

FOPPI Receives Grant for Plum Island Rear Range Light

The icy view of the Porte des Morts Passage and Plum Island in northern Door County on Feb. 26. File photo by Tim Sweet.

The Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands (FOPPI) received a $130,000 grant from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund to sandblast repaint the lower portion of the Plum Island rear range light. 

New Playground Equipment for Otumba Park

The opening day for the new Otumba Park Playground on June 23 drew a large crowd of kids (with their parents along) who were ready to test out the new, ADA-accessible equipment. File photo by Rachel Lukas.

The new playground at Otumba Park opened April 14 with a groundbreaking ceremony. Donations and grants totaling slightly more than $500,000 made the project possible. 

Open Door Pride Distributes Record Number of Pride Flags

Harbor Fish Market & Grille was one of nearly 100 businesses flying a Pride flag provided by Open Door Pride during June. File photo by Darrick DeMeuse.

Pride Month in Door County during June included Open Door Pride’s flag initiative. Steve Makovec, vice chair and treasurer of Open Door Pride, helped to coordinate the distribution of free Pride flags to nearly 100 businesses across the county – an increase from 72 flags distributed in 2022 and 12 in 2021, when the initiative started. Makovec said the flags’ purpose is to be a visible show of support for the LGBTQ+ community by businesses. 

Fourth-Graders Give New Purpose to Discarded Beach Toys

Gibraltar fourth-grade students place their first Beach Borrow Bin in Ephraim. (Back row, from left) Justin Burress, Gibraltar fourth-grade teacher; Brent Bristol, Ephraim village administrator; Justin MacDonald, Ephraim maintenance department manager; Michael McCutcheon, Ephraim village president; Jen Gallagher, fourth-grade teacher and aide. (Middle row, from left) Camille Olson, Liudas Vaicekauskas, Hudson Bridenhagen, Anna Watkins, Owen Gallagher, Ethan Olson, Owen Bergwin, Niko Bonovich. (Front row, from left) Emmett Christianson, William Christel, Avery Burress, Griffin Weisgerber, Salem Duebler, Brody Baumann. Submitted.

The students from Justin Burress’ Gibraltar fourth-grade class set out to help provide beach toys this summer. Inspired by Little Free Libraries, they developed the idea of Beach Borrow Bins as a community-service project. Students in the class found a lot of left-behind toys and sand pails at area beaches, so they decided to connect them with new users. The Village of Ephraim and Town of Baileys Harbor agreed with the students’ offer to install a Beach Borrow Bin where beachgoers could leave toys behind for others to use. 

Kresses Named 2023 Philanthropists of the Year

Donald and Carol Kress were named the 2023 Philanthropists of the Year. They are shown here accepting the honor July 20 during the Door Community Foundation’s Celebration of Giving at Gordon Lodge in Baileys Harbor. File photo by Rachel Lukas.

Donald and Carol Kress, whom the Door County Community Foundation named the 2023 Philanthropists of the Year, have given generously to several community organizations, but the pavilion that bears their names has become a legacy beyond their expectations. Just five years after the doors of the Donald and Carol Kress Pavilion opened in Egg Harbor, it’s hard to imagine Door County without it. The list of events that have taken place in the hall is long and diverse. The couple was instrumental in the pavilion’s creation not only through substantial monetary gifts, but also through its design.

Baileys Harbor Gets its First Fire Truck Back

As twin brother Jerry watches, Joe Kwaterski signs the title over to Baileys Harbor Fire Department for a 1935 Pirsch pumper that was the first fire truck purchased by the town. File photo by Craig Sterrett.

Baileys Harbor firefighters celebrated a homecoming in 2023 for the first fire truck the department ever had. For decades, Florian II and Blue Ox owners Joe and Jerry Kwaterski displayed a retired Baileys Harbor fire truck outside their supper club all summer for guests and visitors to see. They also drove it in parades, used it for a wedding-party backdrop and drove it to haul a spirited, partying group via ferry to Door County League baseball games on Washington Island. In early December, the Kwaterskis drove the 1935 Peter Pirsch to the fire station and signed over the title.

Students Weigh in On Future Plans

Local businesses scouted employees at the Door County Economic Development Corporation-sponsored Job Fair held in April in Sturgeon Bay. More than 500 students from Door County high schools and 43 local businesses participated in the fair. While there, the Peninsula Pulse spoke with roughly 30 students from Gibraltar High School to learn what they planned to do with their lives after high school. 

Saying ‘Mom’ in Six Words

From the May 12-19, 2023 issue.

We issued a challenge in honor of Mother’s Day this year – describe your mom in six words – and readers responded big time. We published as many of those six-word-moms as space allowed, adding the abundant overflow to our online version. 

Delivering AEDs to Door County Baseball Fields

The lack of lifesaving devices at six of the eight Door County baseball fields was troubling for a group that raised money for them, given the size of the crowds – as can be seen at this 2021 game on Washington Island. File photo by Brett Kosmider.

The Door County League raised money this year to provide AEDs – automatic external defibrillators – to the six of eight Door County ball fields that didn’t have one, along with training on how to use them. 

An Unlikely Door County Visitor

Number 17, the wayward racing pigeon. Submitted.

One of our popular stories this year was about Sturgeon Bay resident Annette Vincent’s rescue of a racing pigeon she discovered on her shoreline. The bird’s identification tag traced the pigeon’s owner down in Toronto, Canada. He said Number 17, the bird’s racing number, had gone missing while participating in an Ontario race. Vincent nursed the pigeon back to health and released him to return home. Number 17 didn’t make it all the way home, but found another one when he again landed and this time, was kept by another pigeon handler.

Martins Inducted into Conservation Hall of Fame

Susan Foote-Martin and Mark Martin. Submitted. 

Mark Martin and Susan Foote-Martin, through their careers with the Department of Natural Resources and their volunteerism after retirement, have helped to protect thousands of acres of sensitive habitat through Door County. The couple was inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame this year, sharing the distinction with inductees such as Aldo Leopold and Jens Jensen.