Clinton couple shares Life at the Lake

Katy O’Grady-Pyne / Journal — Steve Starkey and Susie Schmid stand on the deck of their rental property, Charlie’s Lakeside Cottage in rural Weldon.

Right in our own backyard sits a nearly 5,000-acre lake that offers a variety of water activities with unlimited boating horsepower, along with the beauty and serenity of Mother Nature.

A Clinton couple wanted others to be able to enjoy the allure and charm the area has to offer so they established Clinton Lake Vacation Rentals. 

Owners Steve Starkey and Susie Schmid have three vacation rental properties that are located in DeWitt and Weldon, with easy access to Clinton Lake. 

When they travel, the couple said they want to feel at home, so that’s what they’ve worked to create in their properties they rent via Airbnb or VRBO websites.

The three properties include:

Logan’s Landing, a three-bedroom, two bath ranch home in DeWitt that sleeps 8 people and opened in May 2021.

The Abbey, a three-bedroom, one bath bungalow in DeWitt that sleeps 5 and opened just four months later in September 2021.

Charlie’s Lakeside Cottage, a three-bedroom, two bath cottage directly across the road from Clinton Lake. The cottage sleeps 9 and just opened in May of 2022.

All three of the properties are in close proximity to lake access and have firepits and outdoor space. They have also been rented with regular consistency, the couple said. Since opening in May, Charlie’s has been rented more than 80 percent of the time and has had one Chicagoland visitor stay four times. 

All of properties are labors of love for the couple and named after family. Logan is Schmid’s son, Abbey is her daughter and Charlie is her father. 

At Charlie’s Lakeside Cottage, visitors will find a couple of small, discretely placed photos of Charlie in the cottage’s decor. It also includes a small canoe perched high in the kitchen with her mother’s name, Poge, embellished on its side. 

The couple consider these rentals part of their retirement plan. Currently, Schmid is half owner of Clinton Auto Auction where Starkey is lot manager. 

“We’ve wanted to do this for about five years,” said Schmid, who added, in time, they may add more properties. For now, however, this trio of homes is manageable with their full-time work responsibilities. 

“Everybody is very respectful of the properties,” Schmid of their guests. “We try not to meet our guests, just because we don’t want them to feel like we’re intruding, but every guest we’ve met has been great.”

“Our biggest stress is making sure we have toilet paper and laundry soap,” laughed Starkey, but he admitted sometimes the turnaround time when one group is leaving and another is arriving in the same day can be stressful.

The couple give a lot of credit to the cleaners from Weldon who help them. “They are great,” said Starkey, “especially in the busy months of June-July-August.”

Apple ‘n Pork weekend is also a busy time for the properties with annual renters from Pennsylvania who have family in the area and always return for the festival, noting their properties would be booked for the 2023 festival the week following this year’s event. 

Starkey said the properties are also popular due to their central location, making it convenient for visitors from neighboring states.

Graduation and parents’ weekends at the University of Illinois and Illinois State University are also a popular, added Schmid, allowing families to stay together but get away from the schools. 

“I just love water views,” said Schmid as she looked out at a view of Clinton Lake from the kitchen in Charlie’s Lakeside Cottage. “To me, it’s just peaceful and serene.”

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