50th anniversary of the Ottawa County Fair

The 50th anniversary of the Ottawa County Fair opens this Monday at the Fairgrounds on SR 163 between Port Clinton and Oak Harbor. This local slice of Americana runs from July 14 through the 20. There will be lots of entertainment every day of the fair. Noting that this is the 50th, my mind runs crazy from my days on WRWR when the fair was still very young. They had a “Youth Press Corps” and I was honored to work with Amy Minnich and Libby Kilmer who ran all over the place getting judging results and the like. Ahhhh…those were the days. 

In spite of the incredibly busy weekend, I managed to stop for an hour or two at the new Clinton House located in the former Beacon offices at 106-108 E. Perry Street in downtown Port Clinton. It doesn’t look like our old office, but it is beautiful. Congratulations to Jon and Carolyn Rodenhauser. They did much of the work themselves on the transformation. Stop in and see for yourself!


Individual retirement account basics

A traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an account that has been funded by pretax dollars that are held by a custodian until you reach the age of retirement. With Baby boomers reaching that age, these accounts will become very important in determining when a person can retire and continue to have sufficient assets to live a comfortable life.  Until now,   many people never paid much attention to this account because they knew that they could not use the funds.  Setting aside the fact that these funds have greatly declined in value over the past two years, it is imperative that one understands how these accounts function and what check list should be used to insure that everything with the account is in order.

Structure of the account

This account is in your personal name. The funds are held by a custodian who is the plan administrator. This account has a named beneficiary designation.   Everyone should have a written copy of the beneficiary designation form for each account. Most married individuals have their spouse as the beneficiary. When I ask who the second beneficiary is or a contingent beneficiary they do not know. Be sure to have someone named and also be sure to have written proof of the named beneficiaries.  With all of the banks merging, going out of business and just changing names, your actual documentation can be lost in the shuffle. It is recommended that you contact the custodian of your IRA and ask for proof of beneficiaries.   Determine if your form is complete with a written primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary. 


Happy Fourth of July!

By John Schaffner

Of course, everybody wants to know when the various fireworks displays are…so here you go. First up is Catawba Island off the Catawba Island Club pier. They go off at dusk on Thursday (tonight), July 3, as are Oak Harbor’s along the Portage River downtown. Gates open in Oak Harbor at 5 p.m. with food, entertainment, giant inflatables, the royal duck race, 50/50 drawings and a beer tent. Port Clinton, Lakeside and Put-in-Bay go off on Friday, July 4. Port Clinton is having a full day of events, starting with a Squirt Gun Run/Walk 5K with registration at 8 a.m. at the foot of Jefferson Street. They will also have a Firecracker Cutie Contest at 3 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, along with an Ice Cream, Apple Pie & Hot Dog Social from 3-8 p.m. There will be a Classic Car show on the 200 block of Adams Street from 3-7 p.m., a Voices of Freedom Concert at 7 p.m. followed by a Family Dance Party from 8-10 p.m. at Waterworks Park. Cedar Point will have fireworks both July 4 & 5, while Bay Point will hold a special fireworks show on Saturday, July 5. 


We will miss you, Dottie

I attended the funeral Tuesday of a lady who became a surrogate mom to me back in high school. Dottie Bergeman passed away last Saturday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. For many years, she worked side by side with her husband, Denny, at Bergeman’s Men’s Wear, located where the Port Clinton Chamber of Commerce office is now. She was short in stature, but long in character. Also, back in the day, if you wanted information to get around Port Clinton, there were three ways to do it: telephone, telegraph, or just tell Dottie! She and her husband Denny lived above the store for most of the time I knew them. She was a nice lady with an easy smile and an infectious laugh. I will miss her. 

Oak Harbor will be a busy place the next two weeks. The first downtown Oak Harbor Farmer’s Market of the season will be held this Saturday, June 28, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Log Cabin Park on N. Church Street. Along with farm fresh produce, farm market vendors can also provide quality poultry, fresh baked goods, herbs, fresh cut flowers, all types of plants, fruit, cider, handmade crafts, garden decor, antiques, art, music, jewelry and gourmet food items. The Oak Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce also invites everyone to their community Independence Day celebration on Thursday, July 3, along the Portage River downtown. Gates open at 5 p.m. with food, entertainment, giant inflatables, the royal duck race, 50/50 drawings and a beer tent. And it all ends in a spectacular fireworks display. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call 419-898-0479. 


Parade of Homes kick-off party June 26

The Catawba-Marblehead Parade of Homes is coming the weekend of June 28 and 29. I cut a commercial a week or so ago, and if you watch Channel 13 in Toledo, there is a good chance you will see it. We are having our Salvation Army fundraising party at Mon Ami on Thursday, June 26, from 5-7 p.m. Entrance fee is just $10 for a special wine & appetizer extravaganza. Pictured are (l-r): Peg Kronberg of Mon Ami, yours truly, and Maureen Saponari of Salvation Army. You can buy your tickets at the door, or in advance at The Beacon office, Mon Ami, or Salvation Army in the Sutton Center. 

Much thanks to all of the folks who worked so hard to make last Monday’s 25th Annual Chick Schaffner Memorial Charity Golf Classic a big success. I hope everybody in Ottawa County realizes just how lucky we are to have Materion in our lives. Not only are they one of Ottawa County’s biggest employers, they are also one of the most, if not THE most philanthropic. Special thanks to Al Lynch, who has served as my co-chairman for many years now, along with Tom Bloom. Also to Amy (Addy) Skolnik, Angie Esposito and my now retired bride, Mary Alice, from  Stein Hospice; Alyson France from the American Heart Association; and Don Dougherty of Catawba and Wendy Abrahamsen; and I must not forget my brother Chuck who coordinated the golf play on Monday. We had over 100 golfers at Catawba Island Club, all happy to help out by playing on a great golf course and supporting our efforts to raise funds for Stein Hospice and the Heart Association.


Mr. Washington goes to Washington

One of Catawba Island’s more “infamous” residents is Ernie Washington, seen here on the right with Congressman Bob Latta and local realtor Tomi Johnson. Ernie and Tomi took the Honor Flight from Toledo to Washington D.C. last week. Ernie enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and served in the Pacific during World War II. Ernie is an avid diver and used to own a dive shop in Mansfield. He has been responsible for the salvaging of several large and interesting objects in Lake Erie, including the one in front of Wendy’s as well as the ones at the Jet Express dock and Museum on Put-in-Bay. Steve Levorchick told me that he helped out with a recent dive on the Rt. 53 causeway searching for a murder weapon from a December Sandusky homicide. He has long been a member of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Team. It looks like Ernie enjoyed himself.



Photo by Mark Schaffner

To say that she was surprised would be an understatement! My wife Mary Alice has decided to retire, so I contacted a few people to throw her a big surprise party at Port Clinton Yacht Club last Saturday evening. She is also having a birthday on Friday, but I won’t say how old! Anyway, much thanks to Vicki Heinsen, Ann Duez, Connie Roberts, and many others who helped make it happen. She was surprised by many, many of her good friends, the kind of friends you make in a lifetime of living here…which she has! It was a hoot!

As I write this on Tuesday morning, a longtime Catawba resident, Ernie Washington is winging his way to Washington D.C. on an Honor Flight. Ernie is 88 years old and enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17. Ernie is an experienced diver and used to own a dive shop in Mansfield. We will have a complete report next week from his escort, Tomi Johnson, along with photos of Ernie at the World War II Memorial in Washington. We should also be able to post photos on our website by Wednesday (or by the time you read this in the paper).


Memorial Day weekend a spectacular start to summer

What a weekend it was! The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. They had very moving Memorial Day ceremonies all over the area. Sunday there was a very special program at Catawba Island Club. A local resident and retired U.S. Navy Commander who spent a career as a Navy Nurse gave a program saluting Tank Company C, the Ottawa County unit that got caught up in the Philippines at the start of World War II. Ceremonies were also held in Oak Harbor, Port Clinton and Marblehead. A reminder, the big Bike Week event in our area starts Friday, May 30. So, while you are driving, be sure to look twice before turning so we keep our visiting bikers safe. 

There is going to be an open Casting Call for “The Amazing Race” on Put-in-Bay on Thursday, June 19, from 1-8 p.m. The event is being sponsored by Cleveland Channel 19 along with the Miller Boat Line, Mist, Island Bike & Cart Rental and Mojito Bay. For more details, log onto 

Our “Find Wylie” winner this week is Joel Prucha, who was one of 217 people who found our friendly fish hiding in the ad for Catawba Bay in last week’s Beacon. Joel wins our weekly $20 gift card from Friendship Food Stores. We’ll be hiding Wylie again this week, so if you find him, drop off an entry form at our office in the Beacon Place Business Center or click on the Find Wylie Icon at our website, 


Thank you, veterans

It is so typical of this time of year. There isn’t a lot going on and then, suddenly, WHAM! Memorial Day Weekend is upon us. So, please be aware that the traffic will be a little to a lot heavier than normal. Be patient. And also, remember that Memorial Day Weekend is more than just the usual start of the summer season. It is a day set aside for us to remember those who gave the “last full measure of devotion” to their country. To them, and to all our veterans, I say THANK YOU.

I got a note from Jim Cahill a while back and he let me know about something that could have a significant impact on boaters in our immediate area. The US Coast Guard is studying the idea of removing the Catawba Marker Buoy off the northeast corner of Catawba Island. I know I use that green can a lot in my boating, I am certain many of you boaters do as well. The person to contact at the Coast Guard is a gentleman named Doug Sharp at the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland. As of a few weeks ago, the only person he had heard from was Jim Cahill. The address is 1240 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, Ohio 44199-2060. 

Our “Find Wylie” winner this week is Judy Bruning of Port Clinton who was one of 71 people who figured out that we forgot to hide our friendly fish in any of the ad in last week’s Beacon. So, Judy let us know and she wins our weekly $20 gift card from Friendship Food Stores. We’ll be hiding Wylie again this week, so if you find him, drop off an entry form at our office in the Beacon Place Business Center or click on the Find Wylie Icon at our website 


Gone too soon

We were so sad to learn of the untimely passing of Laura Young from Catawba. She was only 28, but had accomplished so much in her short life. After graduating from Port Clinton High School, she earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. While there, she excelled academically and was at the top of her graduating class. She was also an accomplished racing sailor having participated in a number of national events representing Port Clinton Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing Program. 

We are also sad to learn of the passing of Jeff “D.J. Jeff” Below. He was an extremely talented young man. Also, no doubt you heard about the passing of Julie Quayle, a retired teacher who was an outstanding Language Arts teacher at the Port Clinton Middle School. Former principal Dale Vanlerberghe used to brag on her a lot. All of these accomplished folks will be sorely missed.

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