Great Lakes Island Alliance – Kelleys Island Day
By Jackie Taylor
Editor’s Note: Jackie’s article about the Great Lakes Islands Alliance Summit only covers just one of three full days of events. The first day there were events on South and Middle Bass Islands, and the last day was a trip to Pelee Island. Each day was equally busy.
The 4th Great Lakes Islands Alliance Summit (GLIA) was held on the Lake Erie Islands from October 2nd to 5th, 2022. The GLIA Summit is a unique event that brings together island leaders, residents, and advocates from across the region with the express purpose of discussing island communities and their distinct social, economic, and environmental needs. This annual meeting is a voluntary, bi-national network with a mission to “Encourage Relationship Building, Foster Information Exchange, and Leverage Resources to Address Shared Challenges and Embrace Opportunities to Benefit Islands.” GLIA’s membership list has 150 people (and growing) from 19 different island communities, across all five Great Lakes. Participants included local government officials, island chambers and businesses, school officials/educators, non-profit organizations, and several others.
The 2022 Summit was GLIA’s first on Lake Erie, following highly successful events on Lake Michigan (2017, Beaver Island, MI), Lake Superior (2018, Madeline Island, WI), and Lake Huron (2019, Mackinac Island, MI). Each year the host community leads the event planning. This year’s meeting had a unique twist – it was a “progressive” event with the home base in Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island and site visits to Middle Bass Island, Kelleys Island, and Pelee Island.
An entire day, Tuesday, October 4th, was dedicated to Kelleys Island. Participants arrived at Kelleys Island from Put-in-Bay in the morning on the Jet Express. Buses from Island Transportation and kind drivers (Sue Weidner and Roger Coblentz) were ready for the group when they arrived. The Kelleys Island Community welcomed the group with smiles and Kelleys Island swag bags. Jackie Taylor of the Kelleys Island Schools Field Station and Chris Ashley of the Kelleys Island State Park led the group on a geology hike touring the Alvar and the iconic Glacial Grooves.
After our morning tours, we went to the Kelleys Island School where participants were greeted by Community Members (June Campbell, Drew Algase, Patty Johnson, Joe Sugalski, Jordan Killam, Kit Kilene, Pat Ahner, and Steve Wermuth), Principal and Superintendent Todd Hanes, Teachers (Lori Hoffman, Hannah Kulka, Carolyn Willinger, Janice Kraus, and CC Wisniewski), and School Staff Members (Joe Joyce and Rostislav Zettler). At the school the group had a nice lunch that was provided by Taste by the Lake (Donna Losue), and entertaining music played by the Kelleys Island School’s Kids (Josie Gaither, Nikolay Skeans, Victoriya Skeans, Timmy Ahner and Aryanna Ahner). The kids did an amazing job playing music in front of an audience of 100+ people. After the fun music, Superintendent Todd Haynes introduced the school’s staff members and Mayor Ron Ehrbar to the group, with time for people to ask questions and learn more about our unique school.
With full bellies and a beautiful sunny day, Jackie and Chris lead the group to the Kelleys Island Pollinator Habitat near the airport. They talked about the support the community provided, both the successes and issues they faced, toured the habitat with the group, and answered questions. From there, the group visited Herndon’s Gallery and Sculpture Garden. They were greeted by Carmen Smith, Josh Maxwell and Chuck Herndon. The group had the chance to talk to Chuck and tour the property. Next, we traveled to the Kelleys Island Historical Association. Volunteers Janet Killam, Knut Lahrs, Ed Frindt and June Campbell were there to tour the Museum, Church, and Parsonage House. From there the group walked into town to enjoy a little downtime before we boarded the Jet Express and headed back to Put-in-Bay.
The GLIA participants left talking about how nice of a day they had, with many kind words about the island. The GLIA organizers appreciate the volunteers and community members who joined our guests and helped showcase the unique attributes of Kelleys Island.
Funding for this day was provided by Hancock-Wood Community Foundation, Kelleys Island Audubon Club, and Kelleys Island Chamber of Commerce.
The previous piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. To subscribe please visit the Put-in-Bay Gazette subscription form. This piece of Put-in-Bay journalism has been provided to putinbayohio.com courtesy of the Put-in-Bay Gazette, Put-in-Bay’s only local newspaper. Visit their website putinbay.news for more information and to subscribe!