Put-in-Bay Gazette - 2023 - A Year In Review

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Put-in-Bay Gazette’s 2023-A Year In Review

Every year on the island is memorable until memories fade. Some of the years fade away faster than others, but we are pretty sure 2023 is one we’ll be talking about for some years to come. This past year had quite a few interesting and unique things happen on the islands. Here’s a recap of 2023, a year that will be remembered for a long, long time.

The year started with the Ottawa County Sheriff taking over the policing of the township portion of the islands. Things started off slowly, but by summer there seemed to be plenty of officers patrolling the township and helping out in the village when needed.

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Traffic flow past the Monument to East Point is disrupted from early spring all the way into the fall as the seawall rebuilding process progresses.

With the Crescent torn down, there’s a huge empty lot on Delaware Ave. for the entire season.

For the first time, a policeman was hired to be a school resource officer at Put-in-Bay School.

In the spring, an Island Survey was sent out for islanders and cottagers to fill out. The results were shared at a packed meeting at the Senior Center.

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Island folks were up in arms over an ordinance that required parking permits to park in certain areas downtown. The law was so unpopular and riddled with problems that it had to be rescinded. On Friday, July 7th, “4 Passenger Golf Carts Only” was stenciled on each of the diagonal parking spots on Delaware Ave.

The Sonny S, the ferry that runs between PIB and Middle Bass went back into service after being drydocked for Coast Guard-required hull repairs for the last two seasons.

Aaron Wilson, PIBHS Class of 1999, was the co-pilot on a world-record-setting flight that flew to and landed at one airport in each of the lower 48 states in less than 48 hours.

A new event in June was the Ohio’s Island Wine Festival at Heineman Winery that featured island and other wines from a variety of Ohio wineries.

Also in June there was an open casting call for the TV show “Survivor.” More than a thousand wannabes showed up at the Boardwalk and the Keys for video interviews.

At a ceremony on July 1st, the airport at Middle Bass was officially named the “Karl Schmidlin Field” after the late Karl Schmidlin, a longtime island resident and member of the Put-in-Bay Township Port Authority, who was instrumental in the planning and building of the MBI airport.

The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources notified Heineman Winery last fall that it was canceling their vineyard lease on North Bass Island. At first, Heineman was hoping to continue the lease, but later decided to abandon its operation there.

As far as businesses go, Paul and Emily Esterling became the new owners of the Anchor Inn, and Bryan Kasper, owner of the Benson Ford Shiphouse on the West Shore, opened the Shiphouse Vodka Store on Delaware Ave.

The ODNR announced it was earmarking $7 million to restore two island homes and the building at the main dock on North Bass Island.

The mural of the old Colonial that graced the wall at Tipper’s was installed on a wall at the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum.

Saturday, July 22nd, saw unruly groups on the island which prompted a call that brought sheriff officers from the mainland. There was plenty of bad press for the island reminiscent of the bygone Christmas in July days. One headline read, “30 SWAT team members called in to help control ‘unruly’ crowd of 19,000 at Put-in-Bay.” What an exaggeration!

Television’s popular “Good Morning America” show sent a broadcast team live from the Boardwalk.

A lightning strike in a storm at the end of July left the elevator at the Monument inoperable for the remainder of the season.

A waterline that feeds much of Delaware Avenue broke and flooded a few basements causing multiple thousands of dollars in damage.

The second day of the two-day Bash on the Bay concert at the airport is canceled when the worst storm in years with record rainfall hits the islands. Water in low areas of the island blocks roads and floods basements. Water pours down the stairs leading down into Crystal Cave at Heineman Winery. Ohio Edison man Terry Jenkins puts in 121 hours in 7 days to get electricity problems on all the islands solved.

More than 120 people attend for the new flagpole dedication at the Carillon on Wednesday, August 30th, to honor of the four men, Duane Dress, Michael Sweeney, Bruce Mettler and Bob Rigoni, who perished when making a medical assistance flight from Put-in-Bay to Kelleys Islands in December 1983.

The 6.5-acre Duff Homestead on Squaw Harbor is purchased by the Put-in-Bay Township Park District thanks to grants and a lot of fundraising by members of the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy.

The Ohio State Marching Band visits the island. After parading through the village, they do signature “Script Ohio” on the lawn at the Monument.

Several PIB School teachers received the Governor’s Thomas Edison Award from the Ohio Academy of Science.
Over concerns the Halfway to St. Patty’s Day Saturday was going to be a repeat of July 22nd, there were many more officers than needed to cover what turned out to be a non-event.

The Annual “New Year at the Bay” event with its games of chance on Delaware Ave. is renamed “Big Day at the Bay” and moved from the evening to the afternoon. The fire department’s clambake is moved from the fire station to Delaware Ave. in front of the Park Hotel. The new Vines & Hops Festival takes the place of the former Island Wine Festival.

One Saturday in September, Island entertainer Bob Gatewood made a video for his new CD, “Island in the Sun,” featuring many island folk. One part of the video making has them acting up in front of a big green screen upstairs in the PIB Town Hall and another has them following Gatewood as he strolls down Doller Ave. playing his guitar and singing.

The Round House celebrated its 150th year with a party that started with loads of confetti.

The PIB Garden Club dedicated a bench to sit on while enjoying a view of the harbor from Oak Point.

John Leopold from Victory Woods and Pauline Garsteck were the big winners at the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce’s annual Reverse Raffle. Emcees Ray Fogg and Duff Spatafore, promising to turn over a new leaf and be gentle with their comments, apparently don’t know exactly what a leaf is.

Put-in-Bay’s water tower gets a paint job that requires the removal of all the cell phone equipment on the structure. Painters covered the entire tower with a huge tent.

As Covid lingered, Ottawa County Health Dept. came to the island in the fall to administer vaccines at the fire station.
Put-in-Bay Rd. was completely repaved.

In November, island voters passed all the local levies on the ballot including one to help fund police protection in the Township by the Ottawa County Sheriff. As far as islanders running for office, every seat up for grabs was uncontested.

Four island women, Laura Fogg, Kelli Krassow, Katie Stitak and Taylor Hanes ran in the New York City Marathon in November and raised over $20,000 for their selected nonprofits.

Notable Milestones

Carl and Jessie Johnson from Middle Bass celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in September.

Bob Smith, longtime island resident whose family on the islands dates back into the late 1800s, passed away at the beginning of the year. His involvement, support and participation in multiple island organizations was surpassed only by a few.

DJ Parker, who was born on Put-in-Bay and owned and operated rentals and the small ice cream shop on Toledo Ave. passed away in June.

Longtime Perry Monument ranger and Battle of Lake Erie historian and author Gerry Altoff passed away in July.
Ed Heineman, the fourth-generation owner of Heineman Winery, left us way too young in September. We also lost Sally Brown Dinder, the oldest person born on the island and graduate of PIB High School (Class of 1940). She was 101 years old.

Golf cart rental and lodging entrepreneur Mark Mathys was killed in a freak accident while racing at Daytona in October.

You can see why 2023 will be a memorable year for some time to come.

Putinbay.com is proud to present this Put-in-Bay Gazette article from the December 2023 issue.

To subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette please visit their website by clicking here.

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