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|02-04-03: Local snowmobile accidents show need for
|By NANCY ALLEN
The Daily Standard
Grand Lake St. Marys Park Manager Craig Morton said park officials are
seeking outside funding to help purchase a portable Breathalyzer kit to use during
incidents where alcohol is suspected.
The Breathalyzer would be administered by park rangers who suspect
alcohol is involved in an incident on state park land or on the lake.
Though a state park ranger first had the idea last summer to get the
kit, the usefulness of such a kit has been underscored recently due to a string of
snowmobile accidents on the lake, Morton told Lake Development Corporation members who met
Morton said a rebuilt kit would cost around $350 while a new one would
be about $550. He said the state park lacks funds to purchase a kit due to recent
statewide budget cuts that have affected the Ohio Department of Natural Resources,
Division of Parks and Recreation.
Three snowmobile accidents on the lake in January injured three people,
one of them critically. A fourth snowmobile-related incident left two snowmobiles and an
all-terrain vehicle stuck in a soft spot in the ice. No one was injured in that incident.
"There have been four accidents in the last couple of weeks, and
in three out of the four alcohol was either proven or strongly suspected," Morton
Morton said the portable Breathalyzer kit could fit in a shirt pocket
and legally would be equivalent to field sobriety testing, which involves walking and
other tests that require coordination and concentration.
Morton cautioned snowmobilers not to drink and drive and to travel in
groups, tell someone where they are going before they leave and carry some type of
communication such as a cell phone or radio.
Morton said a park ranger is researching snowmobiling regulations to
get state park staff and the public updated on where snowmobiles are permitted to travel
and other rules. Alcohol is not permitted on any state land while operating any type of
vehicle, he said.
Morton reported that the lake's level is seven inches below normal. He
also announced that the state park has purchased a 72-inch dredge bucket attachment for
the park's track hoe, which is used for dredging, and a five-blade cutter head for the St.
Wildlife Summit IV will be held March 20 at Wright State
University-Lake Campus for those interested in wildlife issues in Auglaize and Mercer
counties, reported LDC member and summit organizer Frank Murray. The event will be
sponsored by the LDC, Division of Wildlife and Wright State University-Lake Campus.
Wildlife officials from southwest Ohio, experts in soil and water
conservation, wildlife preservation officials and others are invited to the informational
meeting every other year.
Past summits have lead to walleye stocking in the lake and the
reintroduction of wild turkeys in the area.
Registration will be held at 9 a.m. and the summit will start at 10
a.m. in the Lake Campus auditorium, Murray said.
A meeting attended by LDC lodge committee members, state officials and
Collaborative Inc., a Toledo firm hired to create a study to determine the feasibility of
building a lodge on Grand Lake St. Marys, was held Jan. 24. LDC member Owen Hall said the
next meeting will be March 3.
The study is being funded mostly by the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources. Also contributing money for the study are the LDC and the Lake Campus. The
study would become the state model for determining the feasibility of building lodges in
The private Lake Development Corporation and Lake Campus officials in
1999 unveiled a plan to build a proposed $12.4 million lakefront lodge and boat marina on
a 15-acre site just west of the Lake Campus. Lodge promoters also have proposed the state
pay for the lodge. A partnership with state officials to build and operate the lodge also
has been discussed. The LDC has identified several possible sites around the lake for a
lodge, which also could be used as a resort and conference facility to draw people in the
off months in November through March.
The 2003 officers for the LDC are President Jim Dabbelt, Vice President
Bud Preston, Secretary Vicki Waterman and Treasurer Milt Miller.
Four LDC committees also were announced during the meeting. On the
master plan committee are Nick Van Schoyck, Todd Fleagle, Tom Knapke and Vicki Waterman.
On the legislative committee are Rick Bachelor, Owen Hall and Tom Knapke. On the
development issues committee are Julie Miller, Greg Schumm, Owen Hall and Don Davis. On
the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed committee are Bud Preston and Don Davis.
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