Commissioner consider more ATV use county lake

by Ray Strunk

The Free Press

Marion County residents may soon be able to take their ATVs to the lake.

Isaac Hett, director of the county’s parks and lake department, informed Marion County commissioners Monday that his department has discussed allowing full use of all-terrain vehicles on Marion County Lake roads.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about,” Hett said.

Currently, the county allows ATV use on lake roads only for those with a special handicap license and permit. Hett said he’d like to see ATV use expanded to all drivers.

“We’re talking about the possibility of offering the permit to any Marion County resident,” Hett said.

Use of ATVs on roads surrounding the lake, including Lakeshore Drive, is “perfectly fine” under the current rules, Hett said.

Hett said the department has run into the problem of people using the inner roads without permission.

It’s a convenience thing, Hett said.

“They’ll load up their fishing stuff and drive down the road to their dock,” Hett said. “They really just drive it between their house and their dock.”

Giving all drivers access to the inner roads would make transportation to, from and around the lake easier, Hett said.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said the county would need to ensure all ATV drivers are licensed.

Dallke said drivers who are “underage, out there on the weekend,” could present a serious problem.

Hett said he does worry about the safety of ATV use near the lake.

“The concern is doing donuts or peeling out or throwing up rocks or tearing up grass,” Hett said.

“I could see it also becoming a problem maybe sometimes. It will be something we’ll have to keep an eye one to make sure people aren’t out there messing around on them.”

No official decisions were made Monday regarding ATV use at the lake. Hett said he will continue working with the department on the idea.

Vending machine

Buying fishing supplies at Marion County Lake may soon become easier.

The county is working on a deal with The Lumberyard in Hillsboro to bring a fishing supply vending machine to the lake.

The county would purchase the vending machine, along with the fishing supply products to stock the machine from The Lumber­yard, which is going out of business. The Lumberyard offered the machine and supplies to the county for $5,000.

Hett said the same vending machine would cost upwards of $7,000 if purchased new. Included, he said, is up to $12,000 worth of fishing supplies.

The Lumberyard has used the machine for few years without any problems, Hett said.

“It says it’s a bait vending machine, but really you could put anything in it,” Hett said. “Hooks, lines, sinkers—anything,” Hett said.

Vending machine sales aren’t subject to sales tax. If the county chooses to sell the products in a location other than the vending machine, the transactions will be taxed.

All proceeds from the sales will remain with the county and be used for the lake.

Commissioner Kent Becker said he has heard complaints from lake-goers about a lack of access to bait. He said the vending machine would be a “great opportunity” to provide bait and other supplies at a “fair price.”

The commission authorized Hett to negotiate the price and return with a final offer at next week’s meeting.