What's with the Erie Shores and Islands signs?
You have a couple questions here, Cindy, so I'll try to tackle one at a time.
First, the Shores & Islands signs were paid for with bed tax money that is earmarked for the visitor's bureaus. It is technically "taxpayer" money, but most of those taxpayers are tourists from out-of-town who are staying at local hotels and motels. The money is pre-designated for the promotion of tourism in the area, so it's not being taken away from local infrastructure or services. The folks at Shores & Islands identified the need for the signs as a benefit for tourists who can now see, big and clear, that they've arrived at the right place when they get off the highway.
Second, Erie Shores and Islands West, in Ottawa County, and Erie Shores and Islands East, in Erie County, do have a working relationship and coordinated branding. Each county funds its own tourism bureau through bed taxes, but when people come to visit the area they have no reason to differentiate whether they are in Erie County or Ottawa County — they've come to enjoy the local attractions, lakeshore and the islands. So, it makes sense for the two tourism bureaus to join forces in promoting the area.
As far as that highlights in the annual visitor's guide, I can't say I agree that Erie County gets preferential play. Charter boat fishing, the Marblehead Lighthouse, African Safari and, of course, South and Middle Bass Islands play prominently in the guides each year. The point is Erie and Ottawa counties aren't in competition with one another. They're wisely working together to appeal to a variety of interests to keep visitors coming to our area.
And, in the end, more visitors mean a better economy for all of us.