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Friday, July 19th, 2013

Donations put Governor's Cup back in business

By William Kincaid
CELINA - A last minute outpouring of donations has brought the 2013 Governor's Cup Regatta back from oblivion.
Contributions of $39,000 - including $20,000 from the Lake Improvement Association - have allowed organizers to revive the racing event, set for Aug. 24-25, about a week after announcing its cancellation due to lack of sponsorship.
"The economic impact and positive exposure of the Governor's Cup Regatta is too significant to pass up, and fortunately the LIA's members have put our organization in a position to make a one-time donation to bring the event back to Grand Lake St. Marys," said LIA President Tim Lovett. "We also wish to express gratitude to the other businesses and organizations that have joined us and answered the call to make the 2013 Governor's Cup Regatta a reality, and an event that all Grand Lake St. Marys stakeholders stand to benefit from."
Lovett this morning said LIA's executive board decided to make the donation, pointing out members thought the investment would yield a good return for the community and lake businesses.
Though the LIA focuses on water quality enhancement, the group also advances the general improvement of the lake, shores, channels, creeks, landings, parks and land in Mercer and Auglaize counties.
"The reasons why the LIA decided to put the money in is basically two fold," Lovett said at a press conference this morning. "One is that this lake has taken a significant hit the last few years in terms of water quality ... We think it's important enough to put that money in from that standpoint."
Lake businesses have taken hits too, he added.
The regatta committee announced one week ago that the event was canceled. Members are now pulling everything together to bring the fastest inboard hydroplanes from throughout the country to Celina, calling back vendors, officials and race teams, regatta co-chairman Myron Buxton told the newspaper this morning, adding that he was pleasantly surprised by the LIA's substantial donation.
Regatta co-chairman Scott Anderson doesn't think the previous announcement of the cancellation will affect the numbers of spectators, vendors and race teams.
"We know how to put on a boat race, that's what we're looking forward to," he said. "We draw a lot of spectators, which is a big boon to not just our event, but to the community for all the tourism dollars that come into the area."
"The efforts of those over the last couple days, plus those who told us to carry over their support from last year's event that we had to cancel helped make this race possible. (It) goes to show what a valuable asset an event like the Governors Cup Regatta is to this area," regatta spokesman Allen Baskett said.
Milt Miller, manager of the Grand Lake St Marys Restoration Commission, said the quick reaction to saving the race is demonstrative of the whole region's appreciation and commitment to helping the lake.
The effort to spare the event has been noticed by the state.
"As a Mercer County native, I'm excited, but not surprised, to see so many local organizations step up to make this event possible," Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said. "ODNR understands the importance of Grand Lake as a regional tourist attraction and we're committed to the success of this event."
Auglaize-Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director DonnaGrube said the weekend event easily generates $2.5 to $3 million for the area.
"The regatta brings thousands and thousands of people to the area, and it serves as a showcase for the lake," Grube told the newspaper recently. "People at the travel shows I attend come up and tell me how much they like the regatta."
The event was canceled in 2010 due to blue-green algae toxins in the lake. In 2011, the regatta hosted the 2012 APBA Inboard World Championships. Unseasonably dry weather in 2012 forced cancellation of the event because of the low water level.
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