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Published: Friday, 6/13/2003

Welcome center opens for Ottawa County area

PORT CLINTON — The Lake Erie Islands Regional Welcome Center, a $2.9 million operation aimed at attracting tourists to Ottawa County, will officially open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony today.

Curious visitors already have been checking out the center's 8,720 square feet of exhibits, including a theater, two large Ford Trimotor airplane models, and a 600-gallon aquarium full of Lake Erie fish. The center is on State Rt. 53 near State Rt. 2 in Portage Township; it is open during the summer from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Jamie Kochensparger, director of the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau, said she expects about 200,000 people a year to visit the center. About 6 million people visit Ottawa County each year, and the visitors bureau hopes the center will boost that number.

Today's grand opening at 1 p.m. will include state tourism officials, county officials, and state lawmakers from the region. An open house is planned for tomorrow.

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