July, 2023

The most recent Elkhart River Queen project began on July 20th 2022 when Rex Martin and I met with Bill Fenech then president of Barletta Boats. We asked Bill if he could point us in the right direction with regards to “repowering” the Queen. She had 1955 Hercules Flat Head Engines that constantly broke down and replacement parts had to be custom made. Bill put us in touch with Paul Adams of Mercury Marine. Paul visited the Queen and along with his engineers designed a new system to propel the Queen but a considerable amount of work had to be done to prepare the Queen for her new heart(s) which required her to be dry docked.

While I may be the “project” manager, I had a tremendous amount of assistance and I would like to acknowledge those persons and companies here, if I forgot you or your company, please let me know so I can properly acknowledge you.

Stacey Corpe – My partner, soul mate and bartender for the Queen. Stacey is the hardest working person I know. She consulted, planned, cleaned, primed and painted the Queen inside and out. Many of you have asked where our “dinner” posts have gone. Frankly, since November we haven’t dined out much, arriving home late from working on the Queen often resulted in Pop Tarts for dinner. I cannot say enough about how much Stacey has supported me throughout this project and in my life. Thank you Stacey, I love you.

Rex Martin and Bill Fenech, the initial supporters of the remodel project through their generous donations and guidance.

Paul Adams – Mercury Marine, Paul spent many Saturdays overseeing the welding design of the Queen’s transom and giving direction to Captain Adam on the helm rebuild. This project could not have been accomplished without Paul Adams.

Moore’s Towing – Andy and his team painstakingly removed the old engines and was able to place the new engines on their motor mounts.

Carl Gaines and Aaron Ebenroth – Carl and Aaron come to our rescue whenever we need some unique construction or mechanical work done.

Brandon Eakins – Director Elkhart Area Career Center. When I approached Brandon about partnering with the Career Center on this project he was overwhelmingly supportive from the onset.

John Kraus – Navy Veteran and welding instructor at the Elkhart Area Career Center. John along with Zane Lightfoot, Austin Smith and Edward Graham worked tirelessly on the transom as well as many other welding projects that needed to be completed. I have never met a more grounded group of 16-17 year old's. They know what certificates they need to get and what careers they wish to pursue. Not only did they work on the project during school hours, they also worked on Saturday’s and Sunday’s and through spring break even on Mother’s Day. (there are several mothers out there unhappy with me) In addition to their work on the transom and engine mounts. They removed the old steep stairway that came down in front of the salon door and built from scratch a new safer stairway that goes up the port side.

Steve Shively – 47 years teaching high school students the art of construction. Steve and his team of construction students installed new flooring, new railing, new flashing and countless other construction related fixes.

Brad Miller – Elkhart Steel Service. I learned a great deal about the different types of steel and aluminum. Brad Miller sold us the Stainless Steel for the transom, diamond plate steel for the new stairway and aluminum diamond plate for some other projects, all at his cost.

Johnie Boone and his son Brennen – Electrical Contractors.

Chupp Plumbing – Kirby Chupp and Curtis Christophel refitted the plumbing. I’m torn as to which component is more important the toilet or the engine……

Mike’s Fencing – Rented us the security fencing

AEP – Brian Matthews, provided our power and lighting.

Surf Internet – Gene Crusie – provided internet for our security and video systems.

Thom Diehl – Provided ground support both during the removal and return to the river.

Dan & Louanne Nommay – Our nearest neighbors on Sunset Lane, they allowed us to use their power in the beginning and then their water. Great neighbors to have.

The entire Sunset Lane neighborhood for putting up with our daily traffic.

Himco Waste-Away Service – Chris Himes and his team hauled away a lot of rubbish.

Lippert Components – Troy Eash provided us with two new roof top air conditioners and a bow thruster.

Alliance RV – Ryan Brady and his team Shane Miles and Sam Thomas installed the new roof top AC units and reworked the ducting.

Daniel Yoder Construction – Nick Sandusky, Rich Current and Dale Williams, installed our new drop ceiling and engine room floor.

Todd Miller – Elkhart Area Career Center CAD instructor.

The Historic Elkhart River Queen Board of Directors: These folks supported my every decision and worked hard to raise funding for the project. Dottie Arnold, Richard Bond, Elizabeth Bond, Bob Deputy, Lori Harris, Diana Lawson, John Letherman, Ashley Martin and Jeff Wells.

Ed Smoker – Former owner of the Elkhart River Queen and our dock “landlord” Ed has always supported our efforts to keep the Queen sailing and allowing others to enjoy her and our beautiful waterway.

Jeff Haradine – New President of Barletta boats, Jeff took over when Bill Fenech moved on and sold us the new engines and warehoused them until we were ready to receive them.

Godfrey Marine – Jeremy Ramey and his team of skilled mechanics installed the new engines.

Leon – Mullet Battery, Goshen, IN The new Mercury engines required some special batteries. I had to learn some new terms. 100 MCA, AGM Battery. Marine Cranking Amps and Absorbed Glass Mat…. Mullet Battery gave us a tremendous deal on our batteries and free delivery.

The River Queen’s all volunteer crew. Stacey Corpe, Adam Warble, Allen Medford, Deb Loper,

Dan Schroeder, David & Ally Damerow and Dale Eash.

Tom Nickel – Golf Cart World, Tom stores our carts, services them and delivers them back to us.

Thomas Queener – Sound System

Mark McCaleb – Painting, Ashley, Cain, Max and Chad Root

Jeff Schwartz – Rollie Williams Paint, donated all of the paint and made a significant donation.

Randy Shoff – Many, Many tasks.

John Stahl – Security System

My staff at Shoff Security Systems; I basically took a seven month leave of absence from my company to devote the needed time to this project. My staff didn’t allow the company to miss a beat.

Our Donors – While we pledged to keep our donor list confidential many people donated to this project if you were one of those, we thank you for your generosity. While we did not reach our goal, there is still time to help, please visit the Queen's web page to make a tax-deductible contribution or contact me directly.

The Elkhart County Community Foundation – They managed our donations, covered our credit card fees and made a significant donation.

The Elkhart County Conventions and Visitors Bureau – Jon Hunsberger, his staff promotes the Elkhart River Queen nationwide and they made a significant donation.

Lori Best – and her team of Upper St. Joe River Rats. The Rats have supported the River Queen since the groups inception and have made contributions in the past and made a significant contribution during this campaign.

The St. Joseph River Association matched the River Rats contribution. Two Not for Profit organizations that are worthy of your support.

The News Media – We are blessed to have great news organizations in our area, they would always come out and support the Queen whenever we asked.

The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners – Frank Lucchese who was replaced by Bob Barnes; Suzanne Weirick and Brad Rogers and County Attorney Craig Buche. When we approached them about dry docking the Queen on their piece of property at the end of Sunset Lane, they welcomed us with open arms and they continue to be of much needed assistance.

Central Crane – Kyle Rensberger and his team have been entrusted with removal and return of the Queen to the river many times.

T & A Rigging – Travis Horvath and his team Bill, Todd and Parker. The Rigging Company works along side the Crane Company to make sure the Queen is safely strapped in for her ride to and from the river. The Big Green spreader bar you see above the Queen that the straps are connected to has to be rented from a company in Chicago.

Alpha Graphics – Erik Shultz and his team sold us the banners and signage.

Culp Door – Sold us the new roll-up engine room doors.

Mark Kraus – A true craftsman, Mark made the Queen look nice.

Recovery Boats – Patrick Cripe, Aaron Ebenroth, Dave Blue, Marc Maloney and Carl Gaines. These boats transported crew and crane personnel to and from the boat and assisted the dive teams. They towed the Queen into deeper water and provided a safety escort all the way to her dock.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Conservation Officer Nick Vander Molen has inspected the Queen for many years and keeps us operating safely.

Greg Stone – Hart City Scuba, Greg along with the Elkhart Fire Department and Elkhart Police Department dives teams make sure the rigging straps are properly in place. The divers have to go under the boat to place and remove them. When we removed her in the fall, the water was so shallow, Greg and FD divers had to claw through the mud and muck to place the straps. Yikes!

Thank you to ALL!!


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