Put-in-Bay News January 2021
The future is looking bright as we enter the New Year. Now that there are vaccines that combat Covid-19, there is hope that Put-in-Bay may be able to return to business as usual. We may still be wearing masks and social distancing as the projected herd immunity takes hold, but islanders, seasonal workers, visitors who are protected will certainly feel better about working at and going to the shops, attractions, bars, and restaurants on the island when the new season starts.
What a challenge 2020 was for people trying to plan a Covid 19 Safe Vacation. In many cases, Put-in-Bay was one of the few tourist destinations in the -West open. In the meantime, keep those masks on and social distance. You don’t want to be that one last casualty just as the war against Covid is finally being won. We still believe that Put-in-Bay is one of the best places to visit after the pandemic in the United States.
We want to acknowledge the hard work being done by those volunteers who stepped up to work on the problems posed by the rentals of hundreds of Put-in- carts on the island. The group faces an uphill battle trying to get all the golf cart companies to get on board with all the suggestions for changes. It may also be nearly impossible to get new legislation from the Village seeing as four out of six Council members can’t vote on golf cart legislation due to conflicts of interest.
Last season was probably the best weather season for visiting the island and boating that we’ve seen in years. Sadly, due to Covid, fewer people were in and around the islands to enjoy it. Let’s hope the weather is just as good as last season and that there are more people around to enjoy all the fun. From what the water level in Lake Erie was looking like on January 1st, we’re going to go out on a limb and predict considerably lower levels this coming summer.
We’re especially looking forward to this News January 2021 spring to the arrival of Miller Boat Line’s new ferry, the M/V Mary Ann Market. Once complete, the ferry will set sail from the shipyard in Superior, Wisconsin, on Lake Superior through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, down Lake Huron and the St. Clair River into Lake St. Clair, then down the Detroit River and into Lake Erie. Please stay safe as you cheer in the New Year!
Christmas News January 2021
Put-in-Bay News January 2021 covered December’s Christmas events that are usually a joy-filled month with plenty of holiday activities. Thanks to Covid-19, December 2020 was certainly a bit different as activities were either canceled or changed to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible. The usual Holiday Bazaar took place much earlier so that it could be held outdoors at the Goat in the good weather of late October instead of indoors at the Town Hall across from the site of the old Parkers Garage closer to the holidays.
The Hardware Store had its annual holiday Ladies Night with masks and social distancing in November. When it came to getting the holiday gift fruit baskets out to the senior citizens of the island, the Rec Committee with the help of high school students put together 150 baskets and had seniors drive to the fire station to pick them up. Normally, the baskets would be delivered or the seniors could pick them up at the Senior Center at the annual holiday senior lunch. The holiday lunch was canceled this yule season, but seniors found a gift certificate to The Forge in their gift baskets to help make up for not having the luncheon.
The always-popular Lake Erie Islands Conservancy Potluck at the South Bass Island Lighthouse was also canceled. Plus the annual Christmas party at Tipper’s did not take place because the restaurant is closed for the winter making news January 2021. The open house at the grocery store did not happen. The usual holiday Christmas parties put on by businesses for their employees took a big hit, too.
A few things did take place. There was an outdoor gathering downtown for the official lighting of the Christmas decorations in DeRivera Park. The annual Audubon Bird Count took place as normal simply because participants were pretty much on their own or not in large groups. One event that took place was Santa Claus’s visit to the island children. Although the traditional pancake breakfast with Santa at the town hall was canceled, Santa was able to visit island kids individually. He pulled up to each kid’s house on a fire truck, passing out gifts to every child!
Another event that was changed for the sake of avoiding crowds was the annual Christmas concert the school kids put on in the gymnasium. This year, the performances were digitally filmed and put up on social media for families to enjoy. The annual judging of Christmas lights and decorations also took place. Girl Scouts from the island’s Troop 10828 judged the lights and awarded cash prizes to Bill and Sherri Kowalski (first place), Tim and Jeanette Luecke (second place), and Mark and Karen Wilhelm (third place). In general, it seemed like there were fewer Christmas lights around the island.
The only lights on Delaware Ave., other than in the park, were at Misty Bay, the Round House, Park Hotel, and the Country House. We were pleased to hear that seven youngsters went out and sang carols at 14 homes a few days before Christmas. The hard-working crew at Miller Boat Line had a joyous holiday when the ferries stopped early on Christmas eve and didn’t run on Christmas Day. The best part of the entire holiday season was Christmas morning when islanders woke up to the whitest Christmas they experienced in years. By the end of the day, there was about a half-foot of snow on the ground.
And of course, it wouldn’t be holiday season news January 2021 if there wasn’t a ceremony to please the Ice God Ullr. This season was a bit different as islanders attended a ceremonial burning of a huge Covid germ ball to usher out 2020 and welcome 2021. New Year’s Eve was certainly subdued compared to those of the past, but at least Topsy Turvey’s and The Forge were open in the evening to help usher in 2021.
Put-in-Bay News January 2021 Highlighted By News Articles
Several very favorable news articles featuring Put-in-Bay have surfaced over the last few months. Many talking about what a great please the island is to visit and some helpful hints on planning a vacation to the area. One article talked about how great Lake Erie Beaches are while another pointed out how to plan the perfect Lake Erie Beach vacation getaway. It’s good to see the island getting positive media coverage in light of some of the recent press.
A little GOOD NEWS January 2021
2020 will be remembered by us all for the mostly bad things, but there is another side of the coin, too. There were a few good things we experienced on the islands this past year. The predicted Harmful Algal Bloom Severity Index of 4.5 that measures the algae blooms in the lake in 2020 turned out to be much smaller than forecast in July by NOAA.
The fishing in Lake Erie around the islands was excellent. Islanders learned new skills like Zoom, plus the island students learned how to attend school remotely from home. The summer weather this past season was absolutely spectacular. Islanders had a respite from the hordes of visitors that usually ascend on the island during the summer months, and without most of the events and activities going on, it was somewhat relaxing.
We all learned more about a pandemic than we ever cared to know about, plus we learned about wearing masks and social distancing, skills we won’t soon forget. Business owners learned how to adapt to adverse conditions. And lastly, we had the first truly “White Christmas” we’ve had in years.
Gora Goes Virtual with Island History
The Stewardship Network’s guest speaker this past December 9th was Mike Gora from Middle Bass. Mike gave an hour-long virtual presentation about the islands in Lake Erie that was extremely interesting. Mike is a long-time summer resident of Middle Bass Island and its historian for the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society at Put-in-Bay. Mike enjoys writing about local history and finding buried facts and stories. His most recent book, “Early Adventures at Put-in-Bay…” provides new evidence that the original Put-in-Bay harbor in the 18th century was probably today’s Burgundy Bay between Middle Bass and Sugar Islands. Mike also runs the Middle Bass Island website at www.middlebass.org.
Stone Lab Update News January 2021
Stone Lab Director Dr. Chris Winslow recently announced some program updates, including news about the expansion of Stone Lab’s South Bass Island research laboratory. The first phase will begin with an array of mesocosms being installed next spring adjacent to the historic Put-in-Bay State Fish Hatchery.
The first project will likely test uptake rates of the algal toxin microcystin into sport fish at various concentrations to help determine the risk of consuming fish during Harmful Algal Blooms. If you’re not familiar with what a mesocosm is, it is any outdoor experimental system that examines the natural environment under controlled conditions. In this way mesocosm studies provide a link between field surveys and highly controlled laboratory experiments.
Monarch Sign Taken
Jackie Taylor was shocked to learn that someone stole the Monarch Island sign on Kelleys Island! This sign was on the corner of Monaghan and Hamilton! She is working on a replacement, which will cost $150.
Music Festival in Key West Cancelled
The 17th Annual Put-in-Bay Music Festival at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, which was to be held in February 2021, has been canceled due to concerns over COVID- 19. Will the 2022 festival still be the 17th Annual… or the 18th Annual (minus one)?
Happy to be Back
Annie Parker is back on the island after spending several weeks going through rehab at Edgewood Manor in Port Clinton. She broke her femur when she tripped over a bedspread and had to be Life Flighted off the island. When she came home to Put-in-Bay, her daughter Connie from Oregon, OH was with her much of the time. Connie has cooked and frozen loads of delectable foods for her to nuke, plus has supplied her with home-canned peaches for dessert.
Daughter Marsha, who lives on the island, spends time with her and does the laundry, lots of vacuuming, and other cleaning chores. Sons Matt, Ben, Roger and DJ have all pitched in to help her. Now she is walking throughout the first floor of the house, spatial distancing and hibernating until Covid is gone.
The township has recently upgraded their disinfection systems at the EMS facility to better serve the public and their crews. With the addition of a new electrostatic sprayer and UV lights in the EMS station HVAC system, they are continually working to keep their crews and patients healthy.
Social Media Clichés
We had a strange “friend request” on Facebook on Christmas Day. It was from a longtime former islander. There was only one problem, she passed away some
PIB Chamber of Commerce Looking for Executive Director With Peter Huston’s retirement from the PIB Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber is beginning the search for a new Executive Director. For inquiries about the job, please direct your correspondence to Brian Cultice
Put-in-Bay Yacht Club Cancels Winter Doldrums
Put-in-Bay Yacht Club’s flag officers and board of directors are sorry to announce they canceled the in-person Winter Doldrums event in Sandusky this month. More info will be coming out about their board meeting and town hall meeting that they typically hold that weekend. In the meantime, they wish everyone to stay healthy and have a Happy New Year.
Put-in-Bay Vol. Fire Dept. Lights Up!
Put-in-Bay firemen were out one night in December training with their newly upgraded aerial lights. Lighting the scene during calls is a real safety concern. From photos posted on the Internet, the bright lights really do their job.
Update on Ty Burgess
We want to all wish a speedy return to the island for Ty Burgess who is in rehab care/therapy at Edgewood Manor in Port Clinton. Ty can’t receive visitors due to Covid concerns, but if you’d like to send him a note or card I’m sure he’d enjoy receiving them. Ty Burgess C/O Edgewood Manor 1330 Fulton St., Room 303 Port Clinton, OH 43452
Beavers on Kelleys Island
There is much evidence that beavers have come to Kelleys Island. They’ve felled several big trees by the State Park Beach. We’ve also had a report about a beaver on Middle Bass, but have not yet confirmed it.
Nature & Wildlife Center News January 2021
Addition Complete the building addition at Nature & Wildlife Center is complete! Thanks to everyone who supported the center in this expansion;
it could not have been done without the islands’ amazing community! Workers at the center are now hard at work getting ready for the big reopening next season. New displays will include live animal exhibits, a geology display, a wildlife viewing window with a focus on native birds and plants, a new kids’
corner, and a mural on the back wall by Janet Stearns from Middle Bass! They cannot wait to reopen to the public to share the new space and be able to offer improved programming and education for the community and its visitors! 2021 is looking good for Nature & Wildlife Center!
No Increase in Resort Tax in 2021
The State Legislature isn’t prepared to pass legislation that would raise the Resort Area Gross Receipt Tax. According to officials, the legislature is not interested in passing legislation that would include any increase in taxes. Smart move! Congrats! Congratulations to John J. Briggle who has just published his sixth book titled “CREATION 101: A Study Guide of the Creation of the Earth, Universe, and Beyond,” available on Amazon.com. The name says it all about what the theme of the book is. Interestingly, he includes short insertions about Crystal and Perry Cave on South Bass Island and the glacial slide on Kelleys Island.
Winter Delivery News January 2021
The Forge is now offering delivery! Their entire espresso, food, and bar menu is now just a click away. Visit theforgeputinbay.
What’s the news January 2021 at Your Local Library?
A very special thank you to each one of you who have continued to support our library. Our Patron Appreciation event in December was well received. The beautiful individually wrapped sugar cookies handed out to our patrons were provided by Bakes by Boys. Also, we still have a limited number of craft kits from December available to Make Mason Jar Tealight Holders and Cinnamon Stick Ornaments.
In January of 2021, the following events will be taking place. All events will be via our Facebook page (Erie Islands Library) or Zoom.
Tuesday, January 5th – Kitchen Chemistry-Popcorn Science: Ever wonder how popcorn pops? Join Librarian Sue Duff on Facebook for Kitchen Chemistry to find out as she shows you her “Dancing Popcorn” experiment.
Tuesday, January 12th – Make Your Own Paracord Bracelet: Great Teen Activity! Who doesn’t love the latest fashion craze, paracord bracelets! Show off your creativity! Watch on Facebook as Librarian Gay demonstrates how to make paracord bracelets. We will have kits made up in the library that you can pick up to easily make in the comfort of your home. Two colors to choose from for both boys and girls!
This activity is intended for grades 4 and up. While supplies last.
Tuesday, January 19th – Story Time: Join Librarian Karen Wilhelm as she shares a fun story that the entire family will enjoy. This event will be posted on our Facebook page for your family to enjoy.
Thursday, January 21st – Virtual Words & Wine Book Club at 5:30 p.m.: Join us and share a book you have read from the comfort of your homes while enjoying a beverage of your own choosing. Even if you haven’t had time to read, you are welcome to join us to hear what others are suggesting. We can’t wait to hear what you have been reading the past couple of months! It’s easy to sign up. Just click the link and register your name and email address. Or, call us at 285-4004 and give us your email address. You will be sent a link to join in the Zoom fun. Hope you can make it!
Wednesday, January 27th – Make Your Own Pillowcase: Getting bored with sitting around the house? Tired of reading, watching movies, all the little projects around the house? Watch Librarian Karen Wilhelm on Facebook as she demonstrates how to make a simple pillowcase out of three small pieces of fabric. You will just need a sewing machine or needle for sewing the fabric together and thread. Kits with the fabric cut to correct sizes will be available at Erie islands Library while supplies last. Don’t forget, in addition to books, we also have magazines, DVDs, audiobooks in two formats and a large selection of large print books. Hope to see you soon!
Covid Shots for Islanders
The first two islanders had their first Covid shots before the New Year. Both are healthcare workers, Pat- rick Rogers, head of the PIBEMS, and Jenni Stoiber, a doctor who commutes to the mainland to treat patients at the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. Everyone wants to know when more people will begin to get their shots, but according to the latest in-formation we have, no one is quite sure what that timeline will be.
Rogers says both he and PIBVFD Chief Greg Dobos were asked for the names on their rosters. These people all fall into the first responder category and it makes sense for them to be getting vaccinated as soon as possible. Dobos, however, told the Gazette that due to the size of his department and the number of calls, Put-in-Bay was on the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to getting shots for his volunteers. Dobos was not optimistic about health services coming to the island to give vaccinations due to the logistics and the difficulties of keeping the vaccine frozen and then thawed before they go bad.
We also talked to Chris Joyce from the Senior Center to find out if there were any plans for the Ottawa County Health Dept. coming to the island and giving Covid shots as they did in the fall for flu shots for island seniors. The first vaccine had just been approved and she reported that there were no plans at that time. Peter Huston has been meeting with County officials via Zoom and the topic of coming to the island and vaccinating island seniors has been discussed, but nothing definite has been decided.
Having the island’s senior citizens fly off the island for shots is really impractical, so the Health Dept. coming to the island and giving shots at the Senior Center really makes sense. Peter was optimistic this will happen; the only question is if and when. We will report in News January 2021 when we have more information.
Just before the end of the year, this message came from Jeremy Bingham, the director of the Ottawa County Health Department: “At this time we are still vaccinating Tier 1A which will take at least another couple of weeks yet minimum. We can’t move to 1B until the state says so. We have already been in communication with EMS and have a plan to vaccinate all first responders including police and fire.
We will also be vaccinating all school employees at that time. This is 2-3 weeks out and depending on vaccine allocation. We have a long way to go before we can do the public, but we will do the best we can. We have over 44,000 people to vaccinate. We will continue to communicate this information once it becomes available.”
No one seems to know any details yet about how younger island residents will fare when it comes to getting the vaccine, but hopefully, vaccines will be had by all by the time the 2021 tourist season begins. In the meantime, islanders wait for officials and medical personnel to make definite decisions about the availability and timetable for them to get their vaccinations.
Put-in-Bay Chief of Police
Steve Riddle, Put-in-Bay’s police chief until he was put on administrative leave with pay last June, officially retired at year’s end after coming to a negotiated agreement with the Village. Riddle, chief since 2017, was put on paid leave by Put-in-Bay Mayor Jessica Dress a few days after a controversial arrest on June 6th involving a group of mostly black people pulled over for a minor golf cart violation. The incident snowballed out of control and several people were shocked with Tasers as reported in News January 2021.
The Village then hired an independent agency to conduct an investigation of the incident, the conduct of Riddle’s officers, and the operations of the police department. The investigation was completed this fall, but the report has not been released to the public due to the Village’s solicitor claiming the report was exempt from Ohio public records law because it’s a “trial preparation record” among other things according to the Sandusky Register.
In the Village’s agreement with Riddle, his employment ended December 31st. He will be paid $36,000, half his yearly salary, over the next six months
as an independent contractor for the Village. After Riddle was put on leave, a former Wood County sheriff deputy, James Kimble, was hired as interim
chief. According to reports in the mainland press, Mayor Dress reportedly plans to recommend to Council that Kimble be hired as Riddle’s replacement. Follow along at visitputinbay.org