Put-in-Bay Gazette - Stone Labs Go Blue

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The Director of Stone Lab, Dr. Kris Wineslow, was shocked on March 28th, to learn that operations at Ohio State’s Stone Lab Gibraltar Island Campus will be turned over to the University of Michigan on May 1st, 2023 and be renamed The University Michigan Research Center for Lake Erie. Wineslow was not only stunned by the announcement, but was baffled by what was going on.

After a flurry of emails and TikTok exchanges, plus a trip to Columbus, Wineslow learned the presidents of The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan had a bet between each other as to who would win the OSU/UofM football game last November 26th in Columbus. The stakes were high. If the Buckeyes won the game, the Wolverine’s School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) and its Research Institute at the University of Michigan would relocate to Columbus, Ohio, but if they lost, Stone Lab’s lake research facilities would be ceded to UofM and “Go Blue!”

With UofM trouncing OSU 45 to 23, Stone Lab’s fate was changed forever. Wineslow couldn’t believe what he was hearing and, according to sources close to the situation, the conversation became confrontational when Ohio State President Cristine Jonsen told Wineslow, “What’s more important, your educational programs and boring research projects or football?”

Wineslow told the Gazette, “The bet was kept top secret all these months, and we certainly were never prepared for anything so irresponsible as this. Someone has got a gambling addiction and doesn’t realize how important our research and programs at Stone Lab are.” Not even letters from Aaron Morocco of the Friends of Stone Lab support ground and from past Stone Lab Directors Ed Himdendorf, Geoff Reuter and the late Thomas Langloy were enough to convince Jonsen to renege on the bet. None of the former directors wanted to be interviewed by the Gazette due to fear of retaliation from UofM campus police who reportedly will have a massive presence on Put-in-Bay’s Peach Point to keep law and order during the transition period.

With his job and those of his staff in jeopardy, Wineslow’s next move was a trip to Ann Arbor to discuss particulars with UofM president Saint Ono about a smooth transition, staff retention, key research continuation and all the other issues associated with such a drastic and unprecedented change. Ono was at best indecisive about almost everything, but he did tell Wineslow, “Everything gray and/or red will be repainted blue or yellow. Your dull gray research boats will soon have yellow bottom paint and blue hulls, or vice versa.” He added, “We will be burning all OSU Stone Lab T-shirts and gear we find left on the property when we take over.”

When pressed about retaining local staff, Ono said “Any employees who are not UofM fans can keep their jobs if they undergo a “conversion.” Wineslow also wanted to know about the status of ongoing research projects. After little thought, Ono said priority funding would be going full bore for a new biodiversity study of the “Age of Water” in Put-in-Bay Harbor. He added the Michigan EPA has already budgeted $487,456 to hire UofM-educated researchers for the project. Ono then proceeded to tell Winslow that the 400-strong UofM Marching Band would be holding its summer Band Week camp on Gibraltar in August, and hopefully take part in Bash on the Bay at the Airport before heading back to Ann Arbor for the football season. Needless to say, Wineslow’s head was spinning as he drove home to Ohio.

One Stone Lab staff member, an ardent Buckeye fan, was reported to be so distraught over the bad news that she threatened to leap to her demise from Perry’s Lookout on Gibraltar Island, but the PIB EMS was called to the rescue just in time and she was Lifeflighted to a mainland hospital in a straightjacket for psychiatric evaluation. At last report she was still in a catatonic state mumbling over and over, “G Go Blue, no, no, no!?!?!?!”

When Billie Market, the island’s most rabid OSU fan and ferry boat line owner, learned of the swap, he collapsed and had to be revived by the PIB EMS squad. When the Gazette attempted to interview him, he for once had only one comment. We could almost hear the tears in his eyes over the phone as he said he will be repainting all of the blue and white ferries red and gray in protest. “At this point, anything blue is repulsive to me,” he said.

With the transfer only weeks away and hopes of Ohio State not honoring the bet dashed, the staff is confused and without direction other than to find all the OSU T-shirts, signs and other items on Gibraltar and get them ready to sell at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Put-in-Bay Island Wide Garage Sale on Saturday, May 13th. Hopefully, the many islanders who attended Ohio State will keep their protests to a minimum and welcome the nice Michigan people to the islands.

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

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