As 2023 comes to a close and 2024 approaches, our team at Door County Knock is reflecting on the stories we’ve covered this year.

In the past 12 months, we’ve extensively covered local government in Door County, including options for a county-run sober living facility and a proposal to limit public comment.

We’ve produced a series providing thorough coverage of the county’s meth and opioid addiction issues. That reporting included in-depth stories on solutions and roadblocks regarding addiction issues in the county.

We’ve covered other major stories on the peninsula, such as concerns surrounding PFAS found in Lake Michigan’s fish, the changing ownership of short-term rentals, and the limitation of flag displays on county property.

We’ve continued to follow the issues affecting Door County residents’ lives, such as staffing levels at local nursing homes, employee housing and workforce and affordability issues.

Here’s our best reporting of 2023.

A member of the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission is seen on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 collecting a lake trout in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program. Two other EPA programs tested Great Lakes fish for PFAS from 2013 to 2015. Photo courtesy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Best of In-Depth Reporting

Door County nursing homes fall far short of federally proposed staffing minimums 

By Emily Small

All three of Door County’s nursing homes meet state-mandated minimum staffing ratios. However, they all fail to meet the higher minimums contained in a pending federal proposal, according to a new analysis performed by Door County Knock in collaboration with other news organizations.

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PFAS may pose the next big threat to fishing in Door County 

By Winifred Bird

Emerging scientific understandings and new local data suggest that PFAS could pose a threat to fishing in Door County, as regional and state regulators adjust their understandings of what is safe to consume.

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As short-term rental revenue climbs, fewer owners appear to live in Door County

By Andrew Phillips and Samuel Kersebet

As revenue in Door County’s short-term rental industry has soared in recent years – topping $40 million in 2021 and exceeding hotel and motel revenue by 40 percent – fewer short-term rental owners appear to live in Door County, a Knock review of public records has found.

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Best of Local Government Reporting

County Board approves limitations on flag display on county property 

By Lily Sweeney

The Door County Board of Supervisors in September approved a resolution to limit flag display on county flagpoles to include only the United States flag, the flag of the State of Wisconsin, the flag of the county government, the POW-MIA flag and the flags of 20 of the United States branches of military service.

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American flag, Wisconsin flag, Door County flag and Progress Pride flag flying on county flagpoles in June, 2023. Photo courtesy of Cathy Grier.

County presents sober living options at budget planning workshop 

By Emily Small

The Door County government is considering three housing options to address the increased need for services related to alcohol and other drug abuse, mental health issues, and homelessness.

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County Board votes down proposal to limit public comment 

By Andrew Phillips

The Door County Board of Supervisors in April voted down a proposal from its administrative committee that would have limited public comment at the board’s meetings to in-person attendees only, eliminating an option to comment via phone or Zoom that has been in place since the start of the pandemic.

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Best of Features

Homesteading has benefits for health, food costs, Door County residents say 

By Amelia Langfeldt

Homesteading, a self-sufficient lifestyle that usually includes subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foods, zero-waste living, and sometimes renewable energy sources, is something a number of Door County residents do. Beyond the benefits of fresh food and cost savings, gardening can benefit emotional and physical health.

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The Moriarty-Rosario children at the Moriarty-Rosario homestead in Sturgeon Bay. Photo courtesy of Soirsce Moriarty.

Employee housing needs affect hiring, reflect overall housing shortage, business owners say 

By Lily Sweeney

As demand for employee housing has increased, and amid an overall shortage of affordable housing stock in the county, local business owners say they’re facing challenges in finding appropriate housing for their employees.

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Amid challenges, international workers help power tourism economy 

By Makenize Koehler

Many local business owners look for international workers to fill in the gap for help during the busy tourism season. Local businesses and Destination Door County have said there aren’t enough local people available to work in the area during Door County’s busiest season between April and October.

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Amedeo Virga and Cristina Girhiris, international workers from Romania, are seen at the Village Green Lodge in Ephraim on Monday, June 19, 2023. Photo by Heidi Hodges. Credit: Photo by Heidi Hodges

Best of Addiction Series

The future of an epidemic: No easy answers 

By Emily Small

According to those in the treatment and recovery communities, there are no quick fixes for substance use disorder. However there are things that can be done, and are being done, in Door County to combat it locally.

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Help available, but roadblocks exist for Door County residents experiencing opioid and meth addiction 

By Emily Small

Like virtually every community in America, Door County has residents who are suffering from substance use disorder. Gaps in services, staffing shortages, and persistent stigma around people dealing with addiction complicate the problem in Door County right now.

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‘We are now there’: Door County catches up with national opioid, meth trends

By Emily Small

Opioid and meth use has become an increasing concern in Door County over the past several years, as the county has caught up to addiction trends in other parts of the state and country.

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Timmie Sinclair, a community impact coordinator for United Way of Door County, speaks during a community forum on meth and opioid addiction on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, at Crossroads at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay. The event was co-hosted by Knock and the League of Women Voters of Door County.