A small group of Marion County residents attended a town meeting Saturday at the Marion County Lake hall to talk about concerns, offer suggestions or hear updates from Commissioner Dan Holub.
Several people asked questions regarding the county lake and what the county could do to help with signage, potential dangers at the shoreline and speeders.
One person asked about street signs and why the county can’t help with maintaining them for economic development with respect to tourism.
Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson said Ed Riffel has been volunteering his time to remove the street signs around the lake area and repaint them.
Riffel has also painted the sign posts, he said.
“We have dangerous logs out on the shoreline that are not part of the fish habitat,” another man said.
“If we get high water and those logs float out into the middle of the lake, they could kill a skier, jet boater or clog up (drainage).”
The reason it could be life-threatening, according to one individual, is that if the logs were to come back up and float half submerged, someone might not see it there.
In response, Hudson said he does clear any logs that are not part of the habitat.
As for the situation with logs on the shoreline now, Hudson said he will wait and see what happens in the coming weeks.
“If we see some are loose, then we will drag them out,” he said.
The issue of speeding was brought up by a lake resident who sees it firsthand.
“It’s like a race track. People turn off of Upland (Road) and accelerate downhill and then when they get down to the stone arch bridge, they start accelerating up the hill,” he said.
Another person said, it seems like motorists are going 50 mph in a 25 mph zone.
“Isn’t there anything that can be done?” she said.
Hudson said he has pulled some people over.
“I am not here to penalize anybody, but at the same time, most of the people I stop are residents of this lake,” he said. “I would say it is about 75 percent are residents.”
Holub said the sheriff’s office also patrols at the lake.
Yet, one person said they may come out for one day and if they don’t issue any tickets, we may not see them again for a month.
Holub said during the summer when there is more traffic, the sheriff’s office does patrol the lake area.
“I know the police are around,” he said.
It was suggested by a resident to consider putting in a stationary radar sign similar to the two located at Peabody on U.S. Highway 50.
Holub explained that when the county looked into what it would cost for those type of signs, the cost was prohibitive at $18,000 to $22,000 each.
The state of Kansas paid for those signs, Holub said.
He also wanted to talk with County Attorney Susan Robson about fines for speeding at the lake with zones that could double or triple the fines.
Another concern to many lake residents was the problem of snow removal in the event of an emergency.
Holub said that during the last two snowstorms, particularly the more recent one, it was a struggle to keep the paved roads open with the continual drifting.
However, if an emergency were to require getting someone from the lake area or county road, the road and bridge department would be notified to give fire or ambulance vehicles a clear path.
“Dispatch knows the calls,” Holub said. “If a call comes in and roads are down, the road and bridge department would also be notified.”
Other questions concerned signage on U.S. Highway 77 and 56 and the need for bigger signs or replacement of some that are no longer where they once stood.
“With water in the lake, we need to promote it now,” one man said. “We have had bad publicity for two years because of algae and low water. It would also be a great way to promote festivals, chili cookoff and other events.”
Another concern voiced involved the stone arch bridge and when was the last time anyone checked under the bridge for loose rock.
One man said he was in his boat recently when a cattle truck came across the bridge.
“Concrete pebbles were falling in the boat and on me,” he said. “This would be a good time to check it with the water lower.”
Hudson said he would check into it. Lake residents also applauded Hudson’s efforts in nearly quadrupling activities at the lake since he took over as its superintendent.
Holub said he agreed, reminding others about a fishing tournament in May.
Wanted: Fun events
“We encourage live entertainment to show up on the stage, too,” he said. “We won’t change anyone—they just need to plug in and start playing (music).”
Hudson said they are also looking into a movie theater night, karaoke and other events.
Another added plus for county residents using lake facilities, Holub said, was the upgrades at the lake hall.
“There is now insulation in the walls, fresh paint, and new ceiling tiles,” he said.
Other than refinishing the floors, the hall is in good shape.
One resident said there was a time when it couldn’t be used in the winter because it was too cold inside.
The cost to rent the hall is $50 for half a day, he said, and is a good deal for family reunions, parties or other activities. There are also rates for the whole day and rental comes complete with a full working kitchen on one side.