Guest Blog

Explore the Seneca Caverns

SenecaCaverns_3An underground jigsaw puzzle of limestone, a river with incredibly pure water, registered as a Natural Landmark in 1933, and a stake in local history. Located just south of Bellevue, Ohio, the Seneca Caverns, also known as “The Earthquake Crack” or the “Caviest Cave in the USA,” is the very place.

Discovered in 1872 by two boys chasing rabbits, the caverns have been studied over the years and have proven unique time and time again. Although included in the cavern system that runs the length of the state, these seven levels were formed when the limestone collapsed due to the loss of mineral deposits, causing a jigsaw-like pattern between the “floor” and “ceiling.”

Below the surface, about 110 feet, you will find the “Ole Mist’ry River,” with water so pure SenecaCaverns_1that it is pumped directly to the surface to provide visitors with a refreshing drink. The bottom-most depth is unknown and there is reason to believe that this river may connect with other subterranean streams in the area. Rumor has it that bottles with messages were thrown into the stream, and four years later one surfaced at Blue Hole in Castalia.

Electrically lit, walking shoes and a light jacket are suggested, as the caverns have been kept as close to their original state as possible and maintain a cool 54° F/ 12.2° C. The caverns are not accessible to wheelchairs or strollers, and backpacks are not permitted. There is an outdoor shaded picnic area, and group rates are available with an advanced reservation.SenecaCaverns_2


Month of May: Saturday and Sunday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day: Daily 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

September through mid-October: Saturday and Sunday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Closed November through April.

Last tour departs one hour before closing.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern


BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio offers cost-effective energy solutions

Better BuildingsBetterBuildings is a program available through the Toledo-Lucas Port Authority. The goal of the program is to make cost-effective energy practices and technology more accessible to individuals, businesses and governmental entities across Northwest Ohio while also helping transform the way whole communities use energy. Owners of virtually every type of building are eligible for low-cost financing to pay for high-efficiency improvements to their facilities and building systems.

The program offers commercial financing at competitive interest rates with terms up to 15 years for projects that focus on conserving energy and generating savings through equipment retrofits to existing facilities. Financing is structured so that the energy savings will cover the cost of equipment, upgrades, installation and transaction cost, which make these projects “self-funding.” In addition, eligible utility company rebates and other incentives can be included in the financing.

In many buildings energy savings of 20% or more are achievable. To be eligible, projects must be an energy efficient retrofit to an existing building. Some examples of projects that can be financed are lighting, high efficiency HVAC, building envelope, energy management systems and controls, compressed air and refrigeration.

BetterBuildings offers financing for projects that focus on conserving energy and generating savings through equipment upgrades to existing facilities. The following lists some of the energy improvements eligible for upgrades:

  • Lighting and Building Controls
  • HVAC, Boilers and Chillers
  • Compressor, Motors and Drives
  • Refrigeration
  • Waste Energy Recovery
  • Electrical Distribution

Financing for BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio is available through a $15 million start-up grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The funding was issued in 2010 as part of the Retrofit Ramp-Up project, part of the $80 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio is just one of 25 programs across the nation chosen for participation.

For more information, please contact Teresa Smith, Business Development Manager,, Andrea Jones, BBNWO Executive Assistant,, or call the BetterBuildings office at 419-243-8251.

Ribbon Cutting for Slate Real Estate this Friday

Slate Real EstatePlease come help the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services Ambassadors welcome the newest addition to Tiffin, Slate Real Estate. A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new office will be held this Friday, April 8 at 4:45 PM,  at 1660 W. Market St. Ste. C. 

Slate is a three person team of real estate professionals. They are:

Britny Focht

Britny is an Owner & Manager of Slate Real Estate LLC . Britny is a Tiffin native and a Tiffin University graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Addictions Counseling. Britny is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Ohio Association of Realtors, and the Firelands Board of Realtors MLS. Britny prides herself on providing her clients with excellent assistance every time through every step of their real estate transactions. In her spare time, Britny enjoys actively volunteering her time to her community and spending time with her son Jaxon and husband, Todd.

Marcia Focht

Marcia is also an Owner & Manager of Slate Real Estate. An Ohio State grad, after 30 years of teaching and coaching in the Tiffin City Schools she decided to not retire but start a staging business with her sister Sheila called STAGEPLUS, and then began a real estate career with her daughter-in-law Britny. In January of 2016 they opened Slate Real Estate LLC. She lives in Tiffin with her husband Rich and is enjoying being a Grandma to Jaxon and Sebastian.

Sara Wingart

Sara is a Broker/Owner of Slate Real Estate. She was licensed in 1978,and managed an office for 15 years before becoming a Broker/Owner for Coldwell Banker, Hohman Wingart Realtors and later Colwell Banker Tri-Pro Realty. She was on the Firelands Board of Directors for over 15 years, serves on the Professional Standards, Legislative Forums and was the ChairPerson for the Property Management Forum for 2012, at the state level for the Ohio Association of Realtors. She is also Past President of the Firelands Association of Realtors, Community Hospice Care, and Bascom Long Distance Board of Directors. She and her husband Don have two sons, Scott of Tiffin, and Brett of Columbus area, and two grandchildren, Noah and Zora.

Slate Real Estate is a member of the Firelands Association of REALTORS, a professional trade association of over 500 licensed real estate agents that provides its members with resources and training to enhance the services they provide their clients.

For more information, please contact the office: (567)207-2100.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

Revolving Loan Fund opportunity available

Seneca Regional CommissionThe Seneca Regional Planning Commission is offering a Revolving Loan Fund & Economic Development Program for 2016.

The Revolving Loan Fund provides funds to units of local government to provide gap financing for local business development. The goal of the program is to create and retain permanent, private sector job opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons, through the expansion and retention of business and industry in Seneca County.

The RLF is intended to be a tender of last resort. Other sources, such as private lenders, should be consulted first. Also, be prepared for loan application, review, and processing to take two or three months or more. This is unavoidable in most cases, due to environmental review procedures, which require public comment periods, and due to additional required procedures, including a meeting of the RLF Administrative Board, subsequent review by the Ohio Development Services Agency, and Seneca County Commissioners’ approval. It is best to maintain close contact with the RLF Administrator during the application and review process.

Program guidelines and application can be found online. If you have any questions, contact Tanya Hemmer at 419.447.4550 ext. 101.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

The Building Doctor Is In

Ohio Historical Soc.SIEDC is proud to announce a partnership with the Tiffin Historic Trust and the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services to bring the Building Doctors, a program of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, to Tiffin!

The Building Doctors will be hosting an informative two-hour seminar on caring for older buildings the evening of July 21 at the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. This seminar will address issues such as peeling paint, failing plaster, wet basements, deteriorating masonry, damaged wood, window repair, and many other topics. Those interested in a consultation the following day must attend the seminar.

Friday, July 22, the Doctors will visit ten buildings to provide a free consultation. They are available to visit a variety of types of buildings built before 1955. Due to the limitedBuilding Doctor 1 number of consultations, applications are to be sent to SIEDC, and the SIEDC Downtown Design Committee will choose the top ten for the Doctors to visit.

Applications can be downloaded here, or picked up at the SIEDC office (19 W. Market St.). Please submit applications to Amy Reinhart. Be prepared to provide a picture of the structure and description of the issue.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

Small Business Administration forums offer new opportunities

SBAThe Small Business Administration (SBA) is hosting a seminar titled, “How to Sell Your Products or Services to the Federal Government” at the SBA Cleveland District Office this Friday, March 11, 2016 from 10 am to 12 pm.

The SBA works to create an environment for maximum participation by small, disadvantaged, & woman-owned businesses in federal government, either as prime contractors or subcontractors. This seminar will include a Business Development Program, SAM, HUBZone Program and SUB-Net. Seating is limited, so please register.

There will also be a “Small Business Forum Focused on Veteran-Owned Businesses” held Wednesday, March 31 from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm at the University of Toledo Brady Center, at the College of Engineering. The event will include remarks by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, the University of Toledo and SBA officials.

Participants will have the opportunity to network with other successful veteran business owners, financial assistance, training, counseling, government contracting opportunities, leaders and resource partners. The event is free, but registration is required.

If you have any questions, contact John Renner at 216-522-4167.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

TU to hold 25th International Dinner

unnamedTiffin University celebrates their international students with the 25th International Dinner on Saturday, March 19 in the Gillmor Student Center.

Home to 350 students representing more than 39 countries, this University-hosted dinner provides a space for students and community members to share their heritage through food, arts, and entertainment. The meal itself will feature a variety of cuisines from around the globe through dishes created from recipes submitted by students and TU employees.

The theme this year is “A Red Carpet Event.” Entertainment for the evening will feature the international students themselves, acts performed by the TU Music Department, and special guest entertainers throughout the evening.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 4:30 p.m. Space is limited and tickets ($15) sell quickly. Those interested can order online, by visiting the International Affairs Office in Friedly Hall on the Tiffin University campus, or call Carol McDannell (419-448-3441).

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

Seneca County Commissioner Candidates Forum

How well do you know your Commissioner candidates? Would you like to know them better?

The Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Services is inviting the community to Camden Falls for just this reason. On Tuesday, March 8 at 7:30am, join the Chamber and candidates Chris English, Rich Focht, Holly Stacy, and Shayne Thomas for breakfast, presentations, and a Q&A. Each candidate will give a 5 minute presentation, after which the floor will be open to the public to ask what questions they may have. The Chamber requests that interested community members RSVP and submit their questions by Tuesday, March 1 to Breakfast will be available at a cost of $10.

Chris Englishunnamed

English has long served the community in addition to his 40 year career with Webster Industries. After graduating Tiffin University with a bachelor’s degree and a State of Ohio Accounting License (CPA-inactive), English served on a multitude of boards, such as the YMCA, Tiffin Area Chamber of Commerce and SIEDC, First Lutheran Church Council, Tiffin Mercy Hospital (10 years), Tiffin City Schools Board of Education (12 years, 5 as president), Tiffin-Seneca Public Library (10 years), as well as charitable boards in the area, and is a past-exalted ruler of the Elks Lodge #94.

Rich Focht590155_1

With a career in public service spanning more than two decades, Focht understands the importance of community involvement and investment in infrastructure. After serving in the Army for two years, he returned to work alongside his father as a general contractor. In 1988, he sold the business and became a city administrator before becoming president and CEO of the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC) in 1990, where he stayed until retiring in 2013. He currently serves on the Tiffin City Council. Focht is motivated by a desire to serve all of Seneca County and not just Tiffin alone.

Holly Stacy544046_1

Stacy is currently the president of the Seneca County Commissioners. If re-elected, Stacy hopes to focus on fiscal responsibility through a new budget and creating a business-friendly environment to help provide job growth. Stacy served as president and CEO of the Sandusky County Chamber of Commerce from 2003 to 2012. She has a master’s degree in business administration from Tiffin University and a bachelor’s of science degree from the Ohio State University.


Thomas has a strong financial background, spanning 25 years. His career history includes working for various banks, such as Fifth Third, National City, and the First Bank of Ohio from 1990-1999. In 1999, he began work for the Old Fort Banking Company as vice president of Commercial Banking. From 2007-2013, Thomas served as the vice president of Business Development for MGQ Incorporated, and co-founded the MGQ Terminal in Tiffin in 2009 before divesting in 2015. Thomas began to run for the Commissioners board in 2014, but left the race early to pursue other opportunities.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

Friends of local Bark Park host Howl-A-Palooza

barkparklogo1Come enjoy an evening of fun, good music, and help a good cause at the same time!

The Friends of the Tiffin Bark Park are hosting a Howl-A-Palooza this Saturday, February 6, from 8 to 11 p.m., in the Meadowbrook Ballroom, Bascom, to help maintain one of the largest off-leash dog parks in Ohio – located right here in Tiffin.

The evening features live music by The Together Band, a horn-featured band that brings the sounds from the 70s and 80s, as well as beyond, for your enjoyment. Everyone will also have the opportunity to participate in 50/50 drawings, try their chances for great gift baskets, and more.

Food will not be provided, but all are welcome to bring their own beverages and snacks to enjoy throughout the evening.

Tickets are being sold for $20 per person up until Saturday, and $25 per person the day of the show. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at Bodyworks (behind Tiffin Hardware), Edenwood Veterinary Clinic, and the WTSC-Seneca County Radio station.

The Tiffin Bark Park is a city owned and operated park with guidance and financial assistance from the Friends of the Tiffin Bark Park 501c3.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

Heidelberg to host Fifth Annual Harry Potter Fest

potter-palsHave you ever wished you could attend Hogwarts and enjoy the great feasts? So have the students attending Heidelberg University, and they have done something about it!

For the past five years, the students and faculty of Heidelberg have created their own Potter world, one night a year, transforming the Wickham Great Hall into a Potter fan’s dream. The head table is full of familiar faces, and the Sorting Hat graces the audience with a song and a sorting ceremony for lucky individuals. All participants are encouraged to show their Potter spirit.

Dinner is provided, as well as souvenirs, games, and a chance to win prizes.

Open to the community, the Fifth Annual Harry Potter Fest is being held this Friday, February 5th, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Individual tickets are available for $5, and family tickets for $10. Special edition Order of the Phoenix shirts are also available for $10.

To register, email If you have any questions, contact Lindsay Kagy at 419.448.2207.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern