Put-in-Bay Safe Island Task Force presented a comprehensive outline about island imaging to more than fifty residents of the South Bass Island community on Tuesday evening at the Put-in-Bay Senior Center. Brad Ohlemacher, chairman, provided a brief overview of the task force origination and 360 hours of meeting time since July 2018. He then introduced Joe Hicks from Thunder Tech marketing agency, who explained the strategy the task force decided to follow is a “repositioning goal to change public opinions and perceptions about Put-in-Bay.” Mr. Hicks identified the following target audiences: Family, Party Crowd, Seasoned Travelers, Group Travelers, Media, Seasonal Island Employees, and the Island Community.
The communications plan will address issues that arise, as task force member Patrick Myers put it, “When we go from a small island to a big city environment.” Member Kim Stoiber added, “It is important to talk in a positive manner about the efforts the community is making to create a safe and pleasant environment for all.” Michael Bell, former Toledo Mayor, task force member and island visitor for over thirty years, pointed out, “It’s not about what you look like, it’s about behavior. The task force came at it with diverse eyes so there would not be any blind spots. There were behaviors happening years before that you weren’t paying attention to.” Task force member Aaron Walker, former Ohio State Trooper, emphasized South Bass Island is a welcoming and beautiful environment deserving of mutual respect.
New island signage is intended to reinforce the “dos and don’ts” and island expectations which provide a secure atmosphere for residents and visitors alike. Patrick Myers explained the idea is to “communicate the principles of public island spaces.” Put-in-Bay Police Chief Steve Riddle said the department will strictly enforce rules governing proper golf cart use, consumption of alcohol in public, and crowd control. Five officers have been sent to specialty training, and the police department budget has increased to “assure citizens will be safe.”
Captain Billy Market, co-owner of Miller Boat Line and task force member, reiterated the “Need to focus on any large weekend! There is no magic fix, but there are a number of steps to take to eliminate what the island experienced in July 2018.” He added, “Miller Ferry and Jet Express have established communications with known tour operators to coordinate arrival and stagger transport to Put-in-Bay.”
Thunder Tech Creative Director Craig Israel indicated the media campaign will include two phases. The first will “caution troublemakers, reassure past and future visitors, and help islanders take a stand.” “Enjoy a Getaway, Don’t Get Put Away” is one thematic element. Phase two is designed “to inspire new or lapsed visitors, re-imagine what you think you know about Put-in-Bay, and motivate people to visit.” The meeting closed with a question/answer opportunity during which twelve residents expressed concerns and opinions.