Put-in-Bay News – The Long Winter Ahead

The 2020 season is officially over, and there’s a long winter ahead for the business people and residents of the island thanks to Covid-19. Usually, when the season ends, the post-season holiday get-togethers begin, but as of now, the Heineman Winery Closedown Party, the Harvest Dinner at Tipper’s Restaurant, the Veterans Dinner at the Senior Center, and the Feather Party events have been canceled along with the Recreation Committee-sponsored and holiday favorite, Brunch with Santa, where the jolly man hands out gifts to all the islands’ good little boys and girls.

Islanders usually like to enjoy a little time away from the island in the winter vacationing in some exotic paradise or cruising on a big ocean liner. This year, many are having second thoughts about what to do since the election is upon us, and there is still no vaccine for the Coronavirus. Some islanders are in a quandary as far as what to do…find somewhere different and relatively safe to go or simply hunker down in the relative safety of our island isolation.

Put-in-Bay’s students are among those who are attending classes as normal so far this school year. Although precautions are in place, there are still concerns that one infected child or family returning from a trip to the mainland could play havoc at the school and shut down the classrooms. Put-in-Bay’s seniors are an especially active group, and with the Senior Center still closed, many of them will miss socializing with each other unless they find alternative ways to get together in a safe environment.

Put-in-Bay News – After The Holidays The Preparation Begins

After the holidays, island businesses start preparing for the upcoming season. Put-in-Bay Restaurants don’t just fling open their doors in the spring and start raking in cash. It may seem like that to the visitor, but the winter months are used for hiring summer employees, preparing menus, setting calendars, working on events, going to gift and/or food shows, fixing remodeling, cleaning, and more. Does the winter present a question: plan for another season dealing with the restrictions of Covid or plan for one that is Covid free?

Fortunately, all the island businesses now have the experience of going through one Covid season and hopefully learned some valuable lessons when it comes to dealing with a second one. Will 2021 return to normal or be another season of facemasks for Put-in-Bay? In either scenario, the planning for one is quite a bit different from the other, and preparing for the wrong one will be costly and time-consuming. It won’t be long now until the phone calls start rolling in, asking what’s open at Put-in-Bay!

For the Village of Put-in-Bay, the financial predicament is not a pretty picture, according to Put-in-Bay News reports. Revenue from the public docks, the bed tax, and the gross receipt tax are all down for 2020, yet the expenses are ongoing. Village officials, with the help of local business people, are looking into ways of finding additional revenue. In any case, you can see how this coming winter will be quite a bit different than any winter the islanders have experienced before, but fortunately, those of us who are used to the isolation of winter may be a bit more accustomed to it than our mainland counterparts.

Villages Financial Situation Makes Put-in-Bay News

In October, the Put-in-Bay Village Council’s Finance Committee met to discuss revenue-raising options to combat what could be a dire budget deficit this coming year. Thanks to the pandemic, the Village’s main income sources, the gross receipt tax on business, the fees from its public docks, and the bed tax are all down. Officials are trying to cut expenses where they can, but it is clear other sources of revenue will definitely be needed to keep the books in the black for
the next couple of years.

At the meeting, Reel Bar owner Ray Fogg discussed the budget situation with committee members. He went into detail regarding the current situation as well as possible solutions. The big problem is quickly raising money that will be available for next year, not just two or three years from now. Here are some of the major suggestions that have been thrown around at a variety of recent meetings to raise revenue as reported to Put-in-Bay News :

• Put a real estate tax levy on the ballot to raise money for the police department operations.
• Increase the current gross receipt tax from 1.5% to 2%, 2.5% or 3%.
• Charge a head tax for those coming to the island and staying at Put-in-Bay Home Rentals & Put-in-Bay Hotels
• Put in parking meters downtown or find another way to charge for parking.
• Sell off a portion of the Frederick property on Erie St. to DeRivera Park or the school.
• Have the Township prepay its share of police expenses next year.
• Pursue better collection of the gross receipt tax.
• Pursue collection of the vehicle for hire and Put-in-Bay Golf Car Rental fees that have not been paid.
• Borrow money from the school.

All of these would help raise more revenue, but there are pros and cons to them all. Officials will be making some difficult decisions as they come up with and implement solutions that can handle the budget crisis. We will be sure to report these findings in the Put-in-Bay News.

Put-in-Bay News Reports Benjamin Woods Acquisition

On September 29th, 2020, Put-in-Bay Township Park District acquired 2.53 acres of wooded land from the Kenneth and Katherine Benjamin Family. The parcel will be called the “Benjamin Woods Preserve.” The preserve has an entrance and parking area off Langram Road, and the parcel abuts the east perimeter of Cooper’s Woods. A trail will eventually be developed from the Benjamin Woods Preserve to the Cooper’s Woods Preserve.

Put-in-Bay News learned The Benjamin Woods is being acquired, in part, by funding and technical assistance made available as a voluntary mitigation process for habitat impacts that resulted from the construction of the Nexus Pipeline project in partnership with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Conservation Fund.

Additional funds for the purchase of the preserve came from an anonymous donor and the Lake Erie Island Conservancy. The Land and Water Conservation
Fund through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources may reimburse Put-in-Bay Township Park District for a portion of the purchase price.

Funds were allocated to remove invasive plants and restore areas as a migratory bird habitat. The site will also be used for passive outdoor recreation, walking, photography, and bird watching. The Benjamin Woods Preserve will be opened in the spring of 2021.

Put-in-Bay Township Park District is pleased to announce that with the acquisition of the Benjamin parcel, over more than 116 acres of land have been preserved and protected. We are thankful to the Benjamin family, Hartung Title, Reitz Engineering, and legal advisor Marsha Collett for assistance with the purchase.

“Put-in-Bay Township Park District has been privileged to work with The Conservation Fund to acquire environmentally sensitive areas,” stated Kelly Faris, Chair of Put-in-Bay Township Park District, in a recent Put-in-Bay News interview. “These lands are now protected for this and future generations. The Park District is dedicated to protecting unique areas that sustain the heritage of the Lake Erie Islands. The Conservation Fund is an extremely valuable partner in this effort.”

“The support from The Conservation Fund has allowed the Park District to add additional acreage to our Cooper’s Woods Preserve that is now over 21 contiguous acres of island forest and karst topography providing habitat for migratory and nesting birds, lead morph of the red-backed salamander, eastern fox snake, and other wildlife,” said Lisa Brohl, CEO of Put-in-Bay Township Park District and Chair of the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy in a Put-in-Bay News interview. “Future residents and visitors will be so appreciative of the Fund’s assistance to preserve this unique forest.”

About Put-in-Bay Township Park District

In 2006, the Common Pleas Court of Ottawa County, Ohio, approved a petition to create the Put-in-Bay Township Park District as a local government entity. It was reaffirmed by the voters of the Bass Islands in 2008. Three Commissioners serve to manage and protect unique island habitats for the public to enjoy. About Lake Erie Islands Conservancy The Lake Erie Islands Conservancy was founded as part of the Black Swamp Conservancy in 2000, receiving its own non-profit status in 2015.

The mission statement of the Conservancy is to encourage conservation and protection of natural and agricultural lands in the Lake Erie Islands for the benefit of this and future generations.

The Conservation Fund

The Conservation Fund makes conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, the Conservation Fund is redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, the Fund has worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including nearly 66,000 acres in Ohio.

Put-in-Bay News Making Headlines

Readers of Put-in-Bay News have come across several news articles highlighting Put-in-Bay Ohio and the Lake Erie Islands. Recently a feature story appeared about How to Avoid Common Travel Mistakes that mentioned Put-in-Bay! Another reader came across an article about how to get the best hotel deals. It’s great to see Put-in-Bay getting national attention!

Put-in-Bay News On The Rock

Congratulations to Barb Chrysler, who was awarded the Inter-Lake Yachting Association’s 2020  Commodore Award for her years of commitment and hard work she put into the organization’s success.  Barb retired this fall from the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club after several years of being a manager there. The Lake Erie Islands Conservancy loves their volunteers! This past month, Joe Byrnes and Jacob  King cleared the trail at the Massie Cliffside Preserve of downed trees, and Joe and Mike Byrnes removed downed trees at the Coopers Woods Preserve.

Talii and Doug Steidl continued to mulch the  Jane Coates Wildlife Trail. Julene Market wrote thank you notes, and Linda and Joe Shull prepared membership box holders!! What a great team!!

It’s hard to believe, but the Perry Holiday, one of the Put-in-Bay Hotels turned 35 years old this year, the Kruegers bought the old fire station building 25 years ago, Bay Lodging was built 25 years ago, and the Put-in-Bay News Gazette is finishing up its 40th year of publishing. It’s also hard to believe that St. Hazard’s on Middle Bass is 25 years old. ATVs on the Road Again On November 1st, islanders were allowed back on the island roads with their ATVs. They can be used on the roads for the next six months.

We’re sad to have to say goodbye to Judy Ruggiero from Mike’s Drive on East Point. She has sold her home on East Point and is moving to Girard, Ohio. Bill and Jennifer Reinheimer sold  their cottage on West Shore o Brian and Lynn Kezur and departed after many years as summer
residents.

Town Hall Use Nixed – Several island groups, have approached Village officials to allow some of their group activities to be held at the Town Hall. Officials have been reluctant to allow the groups to do so because of sanitation issues associated with Covid. The Village Council and the Zoning Board still have their meetings there, plus some offices are still being used out of necessity.

State Ponders Tear Down on Middle Bass ODNR officials are contemplating tearing down the My Aunt Irma’s building at the Middle Bass Island  State Park. The Gazette has learned feelers have been put out by park officials about tearing down the building that is located on the east side of Fox Rd. just north of J.F. Walleye. The relatively new and well-built building has not been used in the last few years.

Running for a Cause Emily Beal and Jackie Taylor have decided to run 10 miles on Saturday morning, November  14th, on Kelleys Island, to raise money to sustain the island’s Pollinator Habitats. Help them reach their goal with a donation! You can call Jackie at 419-279-3199. They will start and finish their run at the Kelleys Island State Park!

Nice Grape Crop and Jam Making Put-in-Bay news reposted a number of years ago; Mother Mary Staley planted some grapes in the backyard of St. Paul’s to see what would happen. This year was the best grape harvest yet, maybe be- cause Pinky Batt helped her do the trimming last winter. She decided to make a batch of jelly, which she’d never done before in her life. She says it came out much better than she thought it would and added she learned a lot. Although it tasted pretty good, it was a little more work than she anticipated, and she doubts she’ll try it again.

Steve Alexander completed his first year as the new owner of the Bay Lodging Resort after the record-setting $4.6 million dollar acquisition from former owner Mark Mathys.