Monday, February 3rd, 2014
By Kathy Thompson
Splash pad, beach projects on LIA's agenda
  CELINA - Building a public splash pad with water slides is one goal for the Lake Improvement Association this year.
The proposed endeavor and several others were announced at the organization's first meeting of 2014 on Saturday at the Celina Moose Lodge. The location for the splash pad has not been decided; organizers said the feature will utilize Celina city water, not lake water, according to Mark Piening, LIA vice president.
Other LIA goals include working with Grand Lake St. Marys State Park officials to continue improvements for the lake, promoting a clean and healthy lake and growing the group's membership from about 1,500 to at least 1,600 by the end of the year, officials said.
Another goal is to improve beaches, such as the 180-foot area recently completed at Windy Point. The project took two years and included a $4,700 donation from LIA's membership dues.
Piening said the larger beaches will take some time; officials haven't chosen which ones to repair first.
Other plans of the organization include promoting aeration in private channels, updating signs near the shores, promoting the use of the lake through social media and continuing fundraisers.
State park manager Brian Miller noted about 70 trees will be replaced this year in the Windy Point area and along the east and west banks. About 200 trees have been felled in the last two years due to emerald ash borer infestation and precautionary reasons, he said. The replacement trees will be several feet tall and cost about $150 each.
Miller also told LIA members that approximately 14 campsites in the state park will gain electric access this year, and water and sewer outlets will be added to 12 sites.
"We're also improving a shelter house at the east bank that was built in the 1960s by painting it and hopefully putting on a new roof," Miller said.
The association expressed excitement about the Grand Lake Marathon on Sept. 27 along the lake's shores in Mercer and Auglaize counties. About 380 individuals have registered so far, officials said.
"We're hoping this goes not just nationally, but internationally," association president Tim Lovett said. "This event will bring in a lot of business for our motels, our gas stations and our restaurants. It's a very exciting event with something for everyone, including the kids."
The first-ever event in the area also includes a half marathon, 10K and 5K runs and a kids' marathon.
The annual lake clean-up is planned for the end of April, Lovett said. He also spoke about other upcoming lake-related events such as Freedom Days in July and the Governor's Cup Regatta in August.
Miller said ice remains on the lake and warned residents and visitors there is no such thing as "100 percent safe ice."
On Jan. 25, the body of St. Henry resident Dale Bruns, 34, was recovered from the lake after his snowmobile fell through a hole in the ice about 500 yards off East Dayton Island near Kozy Kampground.
"We have an unexplained open hole near Harbor Point right now," Miller said. "There are open holes all across the lake and we just need everyone to be safe."
Dredging will continue on the lake next year. More than 320,000 pounds of dredged material was removed from the lake in 2013, Miller said. He also spoke about the installation of an automated system to control the two water release tubes at the West Bank spillway. The project is set for completion by the summer and is estimated to cost Ohio Department of Natural Resources about $165,000, Miller said.
Lovett reminded members of the Luau on the Lake on Feb. 15 at Romer's Catering and Entertainment on West Bank Road in Celina. Anyone seeking further information and tickets may call 419-852-0064.
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