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Marina is a home away from home for many boaters

FINDLAY — Bloomington native George Gilmore has boated at Daytona Beach, Fla., Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and at other locations over the years, but he is particularly fond of Lake Shelbyville.

“There are a lot of nice people at Lake Shelbyville, by far the friendliest of the places we have traveled to,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore and his wife, Marge, started boating at Lake Shelbyville in 1970 when this body of water was created and subsequently spent their leisure time there for several years. The two retirees, who now reside in Downs, returned to Lake Shelbyville last year. During all of his early and recent years at the lake, Gilmore has made the Findlay Marina his home away from home.

The Findlay Marina provides a good facility at a central location from which he can sail from one end of the approximately 11,000-acre lake to the other, Gilmore said. The long-time boater said he enjoys visiting with old friends and new friends at the docks, as well as spending relaxing nights on the water.

 Don Mohr, who has managed the Findlay Marina since it opened in 1970, said this facility has approximately 380 boats in the water during the summer. Mohr said many of these boaters are long-time guests who have become close friends over the years. He noted that some of the long-time guests spend the winter in Fort Myers, Fla, where they have gathered together for an annual party for a number of years now.

Mohr said the Findlay Marina’s facilities and central location draw boaters from St. Louis, Indianapolis, Chicago and even farther. He said these boaters often visit restaurants and the winery in Findlay , as well as The National Golf Course at Eagle Creek at nearby Eagle Creek State Park.

Gilmore said he appreciates that the new Lumberyard Pizza & Grill in Findlay delivers to the marina, which works out well when he is worn out after a long day on the lake.

Findlay Marina offers boat rentals, sales and service, as well as rental cabins and

concessions. The marina is located at the west end of the scenic Findlay Road bridge, which Mohr said is known for being the longest single-pillar bridge in Illinois. Mohr said Lake Shelbyville is an especially scenic lake because of its many coves and islands.

At Lake Shelbyville, Gilmore said he has found that many boaters turn out as early as March and continue using the water through the fall. Gilmore said it helps that most of the bigger boats have air conditioning and heating. He said his favorite time of the year at the lake is autumn.

“The foliage turns red and yellow. It’s beautiful,” Gilmore said.

FLIP organizes Community Garden, Farmers’ Market, more

FINDLAY — Last year’s hot, dry summer was rough on Sally Lash’s plot in the new Community Garden, but she is optimistic about having a good harvest of green beans, tomatoes and other produce this year.

Lash said the garden has given her an opportunity to develop her newfound gardening skills while keeping her yard intact and the vegetables away from her family dog, which enjoys digging in the dirt.

“I love the garden. I think this is a great idea,” Lash said, as she tended to her plot recently.

The garden is one of several projects that have been launched by the Findlay Long-term Improvement Program since this booster group formed in 2011. For example, the group’s annual Farmers’ Market will kick off from 9 to 11 a.m. today with a visit by Decatur’s Scovill Mobile Zoo at the adjacent Findlay Park Pavilion. Lunch will be available and the market will be open until noon.

Booster group members are excited about pairing their projects up with ongoing local volunteer efforts. They are also excited about other recent developments in their small town next door to Lake Shelbyville, including Findlay now being home to three restaurants, a winery, and a dance hall.

FLIP formed as an offshoot of Findlay taking part in a MAPPING community planning process offered by Western Illinois University and subsequently hosting AmeriCorps staff member Heath Boomhower. Information about the community and FLIP can now be found online at www.findlayillinois.net/.

“The community has always had volunteer projects going on. I think getting these projects on a website is one of the best things. It has opened up the activities,” said FLIP secretary Elaine Smith. She added that the website helps with communication and providing a contact point for the community.

One of the group’s main projects is the garden, planted last year on land donated by Junior Lutz  along Division Street near Okaw Valley Middle School. The plots are on raised beds surrounded by bricks, to keep out rabbits, and are shaded by two walnut trees.

 “The garden is a beautiful spot. It is just a real showcase,” Smith said. She noted that some plots are available for rent, and FLIP is reserving other space there for a Summer Gardening Club for local students.

The market, now in its third season, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday through Labor Day weekend on the south lawn of the Olde Country Church dance hall, 108 N. Main St. The vendors offer fresh, local produce, as well as homemade crafts, baked goods, concessions and more. Some of the vendors also take part in FLIP’s Christmas Bazaar.

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AmeriCorps VISTA interns Amie Sparks and Amber Bricke, both from Findlay, are scheduled to assist with the market and other FLIP projects this summer.

A Findlay clean-up day was held recently, with the village providing two bins and FLIP providing volunteers. Smith said they gathered refuse, including more than 30 mattresses, at the drop-off site and by going to the homes of residents in need of assistance.

“That worked out really well. It was a really great opportunity. It was a lot of community involvement all around, which is what we are looking for,” ” Smith said.

FLIP also plans to hold a golf outing July 20 at Fox Prairie Golf Course with the WHAT booster group from Windsor, where AmeriCorps’ Boomhower is also working. Other FLIP projects include a Walking Club that heads out at 6 p.m. on Sundays from the Findlay Park, a new 5-kilometer run/walk on Aug. 10, a yard contest, and a community bulletin board at the post office.

“That bulletin board has been a big hit,” said FLIP Treasurer David Johnson, adding that the board is always full of community activities.

‘It just makes you feel good to help people’

Tippit helps coordinate blood drives, opening resale shop for those in need

FINDLAY — Local children often call Chris Tippit the “Bible school lady” because of her volunteer work at the First Christian Church, but she could also be called the “blood drive lady.”

She has served as the American Red Cross blood drive coordinator for the Findlay area since 2004. Tippit has helped organize six blood drives a year at the American Legion hall in Findlay, collecting more than 1,300 pints of blood so far.

“It just makes you feel good to be able to help people. I am glad to do it,” Tippit said. She also teamed up with her friend Ivakay Getz this spring to open The Gift, a “free shop” in the First Christian parsonage that provides clothing and other items for those in need.

Tippit said she was drawn to the blood drive coordinator post through her long-time membership in the Legion Auxiliary at the Findlay post, which had hosted a couple of drives a year prior to 2004. Tippit said she saw there was a need for someone to spearhead the drives and that these events could be regularly hosted at the downtown Legion hall, which is wheelchair accessible.

Before becoming coordinator, Tippit said she had only donated every once in a while. Tippit said she stepped up her donating after she got involved with the Red Cross and realized the need for life-saving blood.

“Accidents happen all the time. Surgeries are scheduled all the time. The need for blood is constant,” Tippit said.

Her family gained personal experience with this need more than two years ago when her grandson Joseph Hampton was born with a heart defect, Tippit said. The boy had to undergo two open-heart surgeries and one closed-heart surgery, she said. A local blood drive was dedicated to him, and more than 50 donors turned out for this event.

“When you have something that people can relate to, like children, donors turn out in droves,” Tippit said.

Tippit, who has just retired as a special education teacher with Okaw Valley Middle School in Findlay, recently held her 54th drive at the Legion hall, which provides space free of charge. She is assisted by her husband, Fred, and his fellow Legion member Tom Johnson.

In late March, Tippit and Getz opened The Gift in the First Christian parsonage along Division Street. Tippit said the church, during the previous nine years, had held an annual giveaway of clothing and other donated items. She said the church leaders knew the need for these items is constant throughout the year, so they decided to open a “free shop” as a mission project.

“In the scriptures. Jesus commanded us to be his hands and feet here on earth and love one another as he first loved us. That is what we are trying to do here at First Christian by opening The Gift,” Tippit said.

Getz said the Gift offers clothing, baby items, kitchenwares, furniture and more. She said customers can pay whatever they can afford to give or simply “just say thank you” if they do not have money available. She said the shop serves people of all incomes from Findlay and the surrounding area. The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, or by calling Tippit at 217-756-8206.

At The Gift, Getz said she has enjoyed meeting people and has appreciated getting to know the need for the shop’s services in the community. Getz, an experienced resale shop employee, said she enjoys organizing merchandise and was more than happy to team up with Tippit.

 “Chris is such a blessing. It’s always fun to work with her,” Getz said.

Contact Stroud at rstroud@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6861.

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