For the first time in its 14-year history, the employees of Erie County Visitors & Convention Bureau and the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau, officially will work for one organization.
On Jan. 1, staff of the two visitors bureaus all became employees of a new 501 C6 called Lake Erie Shores & Islands (LESI), with a newly-formed board as its employer. This new board of directors is charged with focusing on “big-picture” items relevant to the two-county region and is made up of a nine-person structure dictated by the Lake Erie Shores & Islands code of regulations. Those elected to sit on the board include:
• Erie County commissioners appointment: Pat Shenigo
• Ottawa County commissioners appointment: Mark Stahl
• Erie County Economic Development Corp. appointment: Jim Miller (Civista Bank)
• Ottawa County Improvement Corp. appointment: Jamie Beier Grant (Ottawa County Improvement Corp.)
• Erie County Visitors & Convention Bureau Board appointment: Lee Alexakos (Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.)
• Ottawa County Visitors Bureau Board appointment: David Dunn (Sandusky Yacht Club)
• Non-voting board liaison from each visitors bureau: Brian Shanle (Kalahari Resorts and Conventions) and Peter Huston (Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce)
An appointment made jointly by the two visitors bureaus is currently vacant.
“We look forward to moving ahead as one, streamlined organization,” said Lake Erie Shores & Islands President Larry Fletcher.
“Our goal with our new and existing boards is to further reinforce the mission of Lake Erie Shores & Islands — to grow the region’s tourism economy through collaborative promotion that increases visitor spending and makes Lake Erie Shores & Islands the ideal place to play, live and work.”
As a part of Lake Erie Shores & Islands multi-year strategic plan, a “governance task force,” made up of representatives from the two visitors bureaus and boards of county commissioners, met to create the plan for this new organization. The plan was formally approved by all parties early in 2018 and the process of creating a new corporation and seating its board was completed by mid-year.
The new board met several times in late 2018, including in a work session that resulted in four major strategic focus areas. Each of the areas are consistent with recommendations in the long-range strategic plan the two boards completed the year beforehand. These four areas included marketing, workforce development support, advocacy and funding.
The two existing visitors bureau boards will continue operating, as they will allocate funding for Lake Erie Shores & Islands and there will continue to be county-specific initiatives to discuss and act on.
Firelands Ambulance Service
NEW LONDON — Firelands Ambulance Service calls numbered 638 in 2018, a record year for the service, coordinator Dan Bailey said.
Advanced life support transports made up 278 of the calls, he said, while 168 were basic life support and 192 were non-transports, including fire and police stand-bys, public assists, cancelled calls and refusals.
Mutual aid was provided to Norwalk, Greenwich, North Fairfield, Wakeman and the townships of Bronson, Greenwich, Ripley, Hartland, Fairfield and Clarksfield. The top five calls were trauma injury, shortness of breath, altered level of consciousness, chest pain and overdose or poisoning.
The Firelands Ambulance Service board meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Mondays of each month at 25 James St., New London. The next meeting is Feb. 18.
Programs for motorcyclists
FREMONT — The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) has announced open registration for its Motorcycle Ohio Rider Education program at Terra State Community College.
The program is for persons wanting to learn how to ride a motorcycle. Basic Rider Safety (BRS) is a 16-hour class designed to teach new riders how to ride safely. After a successful completion of the skills test, you will leave this class with your motorcycle endorsement.
The Basic Riders Safety – Returning Riders (BRS-RR) course is for those who have 1,000 hours of riding experience or already have a motorcycle endorsement and need to freshen up your skills. This is only a one-day class.
Classes begin in March and continue through Oct. 11. They are held most weekends with one weekday class at the Terra State campus, 2830 Napoleon Road, Fremont. Interested persons can register at www.motorcycle.ohio.gov. For more information, including the cost, contact Terra State at 419-559-2110 or email [email protected]
$500,000 to help keep cops safe
COLUMBUS — The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) is giving half a million dollars to help keep police officers safe.
Ohio BWC administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud, Gov. Mike DeWine and attorney general Dave Yost announced an additional $500,000 to fund the attorney general’s Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor program. This is in addition to the initial $2 million previously announced for fiscal year 2019.
“I’m happy that we’re able to continue our support of local law enforcement officers through this program,” DeWine said. “Law enforcement officers put their lives at risk on a daily basis and these additional funds will outfit even more Ohio officers with body armor to help protect them as they protect their communities.”
The program was created by DeWine in August, while he was the attorney general. It allows local law enforcement agencies to receive up to $40,000 each to purchase body armor vests with a local match of 25 percent. BWC pledged funding for the program after announcing it would dedicate a portion of its safety intervention grants to prevent injuries and fatalities among law enforcement officers.
“Over the last six months, (the) BWC has committed $2 million to help 250 law enforcement agencies across Ohio,” McCloud said. “The additional $500,000 we are announcing today will help protect even more men and women in law enforcement.”
“Body armor is the cheapest life insurance we ever buy, and we know it works and saves lives,” Yost added. “I’ve been to too many law enforcement funerals and hope never to have to attend another. I commend Administrator McCloud and Gov. DeWine for their continuing leadership in this important life-saving investment.”
Interested law enforcement agencies may apply for the program through an application form available through the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG). Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a first-come, first served basis. Vests to be purchased must meet the National Institute of Justice standards and agencies must demonstrate that they have a mandatory wear policy in place for on-duty uniformed officers.
The additional money will become available upon the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the BWC and attorney general’s office.
Helping children in crisis
SANDUSKY — Dr. Lata Stefano, of Stefano Dental, in Sandusky, will kick off National Children’s Dental Health Month by making smiles a little brighter in a slightly different way.
Stefano Dental will collect stuffed animals for children in crisis through March 1, helping them gain a smile back during a time that may have caused them to lose a little of their joy.
The stuffed animals will be donated to the local Sandusky police and fire departments to pass out to children going through crisis. Participants will be entered into a raffle to win a children’s Sonicare toothbrush; one raffle ticket is given per stuffed animal.
Those wishing to donate stuffed animals can stop by Stefano Dental, 1617 W. Bogart Road, Sandusky.
“This fundraiser was so successful last year, that I knew we had to do it again this year,” Stefano said. “(There’s) no better way to give a child a smile than to give them a cuddly stuffed animal, especially in a time of uncertainty or crisis.”
For more information, go to www.stefanodental.com.
January jobs report
The January 2019 Employment Situation report shows the recent government shutdown didn’t seem to phase growth.
“January’s job report demonstrated the strength of the American economy, with 304,000 jobs added as private sector job creation continued to surge despite the partial government shutdown,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said.
“Significant growth” in the mining, construction and transportation and warehousing sectors led the report, he said.
“The unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 4 percent, largely as a result of the temporary lapse in federal government funding, yet this is the 11th consecutive month that the unemployment rate has been at or below 4 percent,” Acosta said.
Wages increased as well, something Acosta saw as a positive outlook for the future.
“Average hourly earnings rose by 3.2 percent, marking the sixth straight month in which year-over-year hourly earnings have been growing at or above 3 percent. Average weekly earnings rose at an even more robust 3.5 percent, year over year,” he said.
Another key indicator in the report pointed to the 63.2-percent increase in labor force participation rate. That marks the highest rate the nation has seen since August 2013.
“As the jobs and employment data normalizes over the coming months, we are confident the nation’s economy will continue to build on the strength seen in 2018 and the first report of 2019,” Acosta said.
Home sales fall slightly
Ohio Realtors reported the number of single-family homes and condominiums put under agreement in December 2018 fell from the best-ever level posted during the month a year ago.
Specifically, Ohio’s December pending home sales decreased 3.6 percent from mark posted in December 2017. Activity in December decreased 12.2 percent from the pace of agreements reached in November 2018.
“The Ohio housing sector displayed tremendous resiliency throughout the year, with activity levels reflective of a traditional marketplace that experiences ebbs and flows,” Ohio Realtors President Anjanette Frye said. “Ohio’s housing market remains well positioned for would-be buyers as we enter the new year, with favorable interest rates and stable pricing.
“Ohio’s Realtor community remains hopeful that the marketplace will see an uptick in homes listed for sale in the coming months, as increased inventory levels will help drive the market forward.”
The rate of homes put under contract reached an annualized level in 2018, a 1.7-decrease from the record rate set a year ago.
Compared to 2008, a historically healthy market that marked the end of five consecutive record years for existing home sales and the onset of the recession, December’s index score marks a 54.6 increase.
Wayne Homes donates $12K
Some acts of kindness are random and just seem to happen. Others are planned with the definite intention of making an impact on someone’s life.
Wayne Homes, an Ohio-based custom homebuilder, donated more than $12,000, benefiting 14 national and local charities, through the company’s “Not-So-Random-Acts of Kindness” program.
The program ran Nov. 26 through Dec. 31. During the promotion, for every home sold, Wayne Homes donated $150 to the buyer’s charity of choice. More than 80 families participated in the campaign.
Donations were made to several charities, including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, The American Cancer Society, Wounded Warrior Project and a number of local charity foundations and humane societies.
With this program, Wayne Homes officials said the company hoped to make a meaningful difference to those less fortunate during the holiday season.
If you have an item for the business roundup column, send the information to the Norwalk Reflector in care of Zoe Greszler, 61 E. Monroe St., Norwalk, Ohio 44857, or email it to [email protected]