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Thursday, August 12th, 2010

ODNR to refund dock fees

Camping, shelter house rental also discounted to draw lake visitors

By Nancy Allen
GRAND LAKE - The state will refund dock fees and give discounts for camping and shelter house rental around Grand Lake to help area businesses and individuals affected by the lake's condition.
The move will cost the state $172,930, according to ODNR spokesperson Heidi Hetzel-Evans.
The state this summer placed a water quality advisory on the lake warning people to have no contact with the water and to not eat the fish due to algae toxins in the water.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sean Logan said discounting ODNR services may be unprecedented, but so is the problem at Grand Lake. The refunds and discounts are a way the state can help attract visitors, he said in a press release.
"It calls on all of us to make the changes we can to help solve the problem and minimize any damage being done," Logan said. "Every dollar spent at the state park by each visitor brings benefits that reach far beyond our own marinas and other facilities. We are, and will remain, a part of this community."
Many who purchased or own docks are frustrated now that the state has advised the public not to use the lake. Sandy Mast, manager at Kozy Kampground, asked Gov. Ted Strickland when he visited the lake July 30 if the state would refund the $16,410 in fees for roughly 500 boat docks the campground paid for customers who are no longer coming.
"I'm very surprised," Mast said this morning. "I figured we wouldn't hear anything, especially after the governor's office didn't return my calls. I've been making calls to state people and the governor for a couple of weeks."
Mast said visitors are still
not coming. The campground has 120 overnight campground sites that by this time would be rented out for the Labor Day weekend. As of today, just 20 are reserved, she said.
There are 2,238 private docks and 119 state docks at Grand Lake. All dock owners pay a state fee, which ranges from $315 for a state dock on state property to $50 for a private dock on private property, according to Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Assistant Manager Brian Miller.
Within the next 30 days, ODNR will refund all rental fees paid to Ohio State Parks by state and private dock holders during the 2010 season. Refunds will be made by check or credit card, depending on how holders paid their fees. Dock holders do not need to take any action to receive the refunds.
Refunds will not impact future rental seasons, according to the release.
Starting today campsite fees and shelter house rentals at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park will be discounted by 50 percent until Dec. 31. For existing reservations, discounts will be applied at the time of arrival.
Craig Morton, Grand Lake St. Marys State Park manager, said he was surprised to learn about the refunds and discounts, but believes it is a "good idea."
"Hopefully this will help some of the businesses through a tough time and maybe pull some campers back in for Labor Day weekend," Morton said. "We understand the community has not been able to use the lake that much this year and it's a way to give back to the community."
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park offers a variety of overnight and day-use activities including 176 electric and 28 non-electric campsites; a full service camp store, bicycle rentals, miniature golf, basketball and volleyball courts, playground equipment, a dog park and free WiFi.

To make reservations:
Reservations may be made at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park by calling toll-free 866- OHIOPARKS (644-6727) or on-line at www.ohiostateparks.org.
When making a reservation, select the "Grand Lake Special" from the drop-down menu for discounts. No other discounts will apply.
Additional online story on this date
CELINA - Goats rule.
They're lively and loud and in record numbers at this year's Mercer County Fair.
"There's a 25 percent increase in goats this year," said Cheryl McKirnan, coordinator of the junior fair. [More]
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