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Monday, April 7th, 2014

New dredge coming soon

Machine will be named after Hoedag lake creature

By Kathy Thompson

Grand Lake St. Marys State Park employees begin assembling a barge that will be. . .

CELINA - A new dredge - named for a mythical creature reported in Grand Lake more than a century ago - should arrive in June to help clean up the lake.
Hoedag the Monster of the Lake, a 24-foot-wide Ellicott 460 SL Dragon Dredge, is being built in Wisconsin and will arrive on three semitrailers, Grand Lake St. Marys State Park dredge supervisor Tom Grabow announced Saturday at the Lake Improvement Association meeting in Celina.
The conventional and swinging ladder dredge was purchased for $895,000. Funding for the equipment was in the 2012 state capital budget, state park manager Brian Miller said.
The new dredge will remove silt and nutrients from the bottom of the lake to enhance boater navigation and rid unwanted sediment that promotes toxic blue-green algae.
The local state park has three suction dredges - Brutus and the Eagle, conventional dredges, and Pump-A-Little, a swinging ladder dredge, which has worked on the lake since 1999.   The state annually provides the state park with about $470,000 in waterway safety funds to operate the three dredges. That amount will increase by about $150,000 per year for Hoedag, Miller said.
Crews broke a dredging record last year with more than 302,000 cubic yards of sediment removed; the goal was 289,000 cubic yards.
Grabow also told members his crews in the next two or three weeks will begin removing stumps in Grand Lake with the assistance from other state parks. The work, which improves boating safety, has not been conducted since about 2011, when approximately 140 stumps were removed within a six-week period, Miller said.
Stump removal was put on hold when priorities were focused on dredging and reducing lake levels, he said.
The project is expected to last about two weeks. Anyone who knows specific stump locations is asked to contact Miller at 419-394-3611.
"If the lake is too shallow, we can't do it," Miller added.
The lake level is about 5 inches above the spillway notch, he said. Prior to recent rainfall it was 3 inches below.
Brad Fisher, a member of the Grand Lake Recreation Club, formerly Snow Dreamers, said a 10-foot replica of an oil derrick may soon replace the pile of rocks visible in the center of Grand Lake where the last operational derrick stood. Work will begin in about a week and the project could take three or four weeks to complete, he said.
The project is expected to cost about $3,000 and is being funded by the recreation club and private donations.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will use a crane on a barge to raise the rocks and drive 20 or 30 wood posts into the lake on the west side of the derrick to keep the rip-rap in place.
"Not only will that create a fishing habitat but we're going to pour concrete to lock the remaining rocks, and a pad will be set on top to place the replica with a safety light on top," Fisher said.
The pile of shifting rocks is a menace for boaters, he said.
The proposal is pared from a $300,000 plan the LIA presented in October 2012. At that time, officials wanted to build a 55-foot diameter area with a 30-foot tall derrick and a solar light on top. A billboard also would have been erected with a history lesson about oil drilling on the lake.
Grand Lake was home to the world's first offshore oil well in 1891. Hundreds of oil- and natural gas-producing structures once were visible in the lake and along the shoreline.
"It would be something the community could be proud of," Fisher said of the proposed landmark and historical symbol of the lake.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund for the derrick can contact Fisher through the group's website at grandlake rec@gmail.com or by calling him at 937-361-9540.
LIA members also learned about two rules proposed by the Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation involving the use of metal detectors and a limit to swimming distances from private shorelines.
Visitors who wish to use metal detectors in the state park currently must obtain a permit from the park manager, Miller said. The new rule would require permits only for those seeking to operate the equipment in camping areas. The permits are free, he added.
The other pending rule would limit the distance swimmers are allowed from private shores to 60 feet, Miller said. Swimmers may now go 100 feet from the shoreline.
"It's really for the swimmers' safety," he said. "There are a lot of boats on the lake and we don't want anyone getting injured or in trouble if they swim out too far."
The public is invited to give comments on all the pending rules at the Ohio.gov website by April 19. A public hearing on the rule changes is set for April 21 at ODNR headquarters in Columbus.
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