The 28th Annual “State of the Island” was presented by the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce on Friday evening, from 6 to 8:30 pm. Guests were treated to a complimentary buffet and beverages, as well as tickets for an end-of-program raffle. Maggie Beckford, Executive Director, introduced the Board members in attendance, as well as President Ty Winchester. Mr. Winchester explained the objective three years ago, when he became president, was “to grow social media and keep visitors and locals informed of Chamber activities.” In this regard, Mr. Winchester was pleased to introduce Nicole DeFreitas as Chamber of Commerce Event and Social Media Coordinator. Ms. DeFreitas is already working on expanding Island Safety Day, and she will assist island businesses move forward with the Chamber’s new theme, “Put-in-Bay: Find Your Island.”
A total of fourteen speakers shared information about projects, activities, events, and programs of great significance to the economic vitality and cultural growth of the Bass Islands community. A few highlights are presented in the following paragraphs. They appear in the order of presentation.
Peter Huston spoke on behalf of the Perry Group. He reminded all that a DVD and photography book are available as remembrance of The Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial celebration. This year’s “Star Spangled Summer” theme will resonate with the September 6th concert by the full orchestra of the Toledo Symphony. The Annual Harbor Illumination will again take place in 2014.
Larry Fletcher flew over from the mainland to share major highlights from the several, well-received Shores & Islands promotional campaigns. Of particular significance is the “Lake Erie Love” marketing theme song performed by Walker Hayes. It is being broadcast on several Web sites, and it is available on iTunes and Spotify. As in past years, areas within a 5-hour driving radius are prime marketing targets. 400,000 travel planners are available for distribution. Over 70 Chamber of Commerce members support Shores & Islands programs.
Mayor Ruth Scarpelli said, “The ‘State of the Village’ is good in spite of a mother of all winters.” Ms. Scarpelli reported the budget is in the black, the Town Hall needs refurbishment, DeRivera Park has received several upgrades, and the A & C Dock renovations are scheduled for completion by mid-June and end-of-May respectively. The Mayor emphasized that patience is required of us all in this regard. She said, “Patience, please! We want it done right and with safety.”
Dustin Heineman spoke on behalf of the Lake Erie Islands Chapter of the Black Swamp Conservancy. “The Conservancy,” he said, “is active in community programs and nature preservation.” Mr. Heineman expressed thanks to a multitude of volunteers who support the physical efforts spearheaded by the Conservancy, and he explained there would again be an AmeriCorps intern this coming season. Two special dates to place on the calendar are Arbor Day on 24 April, and Earth Day on 26 April.
Sargeant Lamour hails from Toledo and is completing a degree in marketing, He explained the Put-in-Bay Police Department has been interviewing candidates for the coming summer’s officer line-up (pun intended). He encouraged the business community to continue the cooperative, open lines of communication necessary for public safety.
Other reports included encouragement to promote the Historical Society, explanation of Port Authority business, a reminder of Township levies for cemetery upkeep and EMS funding on the May election ballots, accolades for the Put-in-Bay Volunteer Fire Department’s professionalism, and a welcome to participate in the plethora of activity opportunities available at the Senior Center. Maggie Beckford closed the evening with a sincere expression of thanks to all who contribute to the community’s well-being, with special acknowledgement for public officials, the Police Department, the EMS, and the Fire Department.