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05-03-04 Grand Lake officials to seek state funding

By Nancy Allen
nallen@dailystandard.com

  Members of the Lake Restoration Committee (LRC) and other local groups trying to improve the water quality in Grand Lake St. Marys plan to meet May 17 with an Ohio Senator, state representatives and Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials to request state funding for the lake.

  Members of the Lake Improvement Association who met Saturday at the Celina Moose Lodge learned of the upcoming meeting with state and local officials. The Lake Restoration Committee is a committee of the Lake Improvement Association.
  The upcoming May 17 meeting comes after a March 15 meeting LRC officials had with 12th District Sen. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, to discuss lake water quality issues. At the March meeting, Jordan promised to discuss the issue again with people who could make state funding for the lake a reality.
Invitations going out
  LRC Chairman Vic Woodall said invited to the upcoming meeting will be watershed coordinators for the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed Project and the Wabash Watershed Alliance, representatives from the agricultural and business communities, 77th District Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina, 78th District Rep. Derrick Seaver, D-Minster, mayors from the cities of Celina and St. Marys, commissioners from Mercer and Auglaize counties, county soil and water conservation district officials, and Donna Grube, director of the Auglaize & Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau.  "What we're trying to do is get a show of support and that all of these people have an interest in the lake," Woodall said. "We want to show the state that we're all together on this."
  Woodall said LRC officials plan to request enough state line item funding to complete phase II and beyond of a 1985 ODNR restoration plan for the lake. Most of phase I was completed.
  The plan, which originally called for $3 million a year while the project was taking place, went by the wayside after state funding for the project dried up. About 70 percent of the first phase was completed. It involved placing riprap (rocks) along the shoreline and around islands in the lake and building rock piers to reduce shoreline erosion.
Second phase
  The second phase was not completed and more precisely addresses water quality issues associated with recreational development, dredging projects, shore protection and improved visibility in the lake water.
  An advertising campaign sponsored by the LRC with information about the lake and water quality issues debuted today in The Daily Standard. The LRC will run the ads for 40 weeks. The ad appears on page 7A of today's paper.
  Also at the meeting LIA members learned a best decorated pontoon or boat contest will be added to this year fourth annual Barstool Open miniature putt-putt golf event, the LIA's premier fund-raising event. Boats and pontoons will be judged at Behm's Landing. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three best decorated boats or pontoons.
  The Barstool Open, scheduled for Aug. 14, requires that each four-person team play a hole at each of the 12 participating establishments around the lake. The team with the lowest score at the end of the day wins. A total of 144 teams will be able to participate this year. Cash prizes of $500, $250 and $125 will be awarded to the top three finishers in the Barstool open. A last place booby prize also will be awarded. Participants may travel the putt putt course by boat or car.
  The putt awards and best decorated boat/pontoon awards will be given out at the end of the day at the Celina Moose Lodge. There also will be a raffle drawing or prizes totaling more than $1,000.
  Volunteers are needed to work at and bake cookies for the LIA's annual kid's fishing derby on May 19 at the East Bank first house starting at 11 a.m. The LIA and Grand Lake St. Marys State Park holds the event every year for youths with mental and/or physical handicaps. Every child is provided with a fishing pole and gets help baiting their hooks for a day of fishing. The kids also get a free hot dog lunch.
  Under other business, LIA members learned from Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Craig Morton that:
   About 35 people picked up 51 bags of trash during this year's annual lake cleanup day held April 24, much less than normal. Morton said park officials plan to market the event more aggressively next year.
   A boater received minor injuries when he struck a rock pier at night near Windy Point last month during 20-30 mph winds.
   State park officials are working with two individuals completing Eagle Scout projects that involve replacing the state park sign on Ohio 703 and planting trees at the West Bank area and campground.
   The lake's water level was three inches above normal pool.

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