Monday, May 31, 2004

Quiet Memorial Holiday

It comes as no surprise that the lake was fairly quiet this Memorial Holiday. Despite near perfect weather and sunny skies, lake traffic (at least on the NW side) was far less than on an average spring weekend. Why? After all, no one wants to pack up and drive all the way up here to launch a boat that can only navigate part of the lake. The consistent low levels make navigating the lake, and especially the river, very hazardous. In addition, although we haven’t had any significant rainfall in weeks, the lake is still very muddy and very ugly. Part of the reason that the lake has remained muddy so long is that we’ve had high winds churning up the lake almost daily for well over a month. Some residents also question the effects of recent dredging for the new development on the lake following the last rainfall.

Low Lake Levels and the Hazards of Personal Water Crafting

Last week we learned yet another lake lesson the hard way. To make a long story short, don’t take your PWC out on the lake mid-week when the lake levels are low! Imagine what you might do when something happens to your PWC and it stops cold in the middle of the lake or river? Now add to that mix a brewing storm, high winds, missing guests, and a boat on the dock with problems that can’t come to the rescue. If you were sitting home waiting in a panic for your missing guests, whom would you call for help?

Well it happened to two of my daughter Amy’s guests– a mother and her eight-year-old son. When they didn’t come back after almost an hour, I tried calling any neighbor who might have a boat on a still floating dock. Most of our neighbors were either gone or their boats were out of the water because their docks were dry-docked. I frantically called our Fire Chief, Foy Mitchell, thinking that he might be of help. But Foy was in the same situation as many of our other neighbors – no floating dock and no boat in the water. Foy suggested that I try to find anyone with a boat on the water. I asked Foy if he could try to think of anyone who could help and he told me to call Ronny Linley, our Assistant Fire Chief. Luckily, Dianne was home and was able to call Ronny, who was out on the lake with his cell phone. Ronny started looking for our missing Seadoo. Then I contacted Sid Sowell, who is always willing to help when anyone is in trouble. Sid, Francis, and Dianne piled into Sid’s boat. Braving the high winds and rain, they met up with Ronny and recovered our missing Seadoo. But where were our missing guests? They had tied up the Seadoo on the shore and took off on foot and eventually made it back in the right direction. Thanks to the whistle on board that they took with them, and us using our binoculars from shore, we were able to spot them whistling and looking lost on the distant shore across from our dock.

Why did the Seadoo conk out? Well it turns out that our guest, who claimed to be an experienced PWC driver, wasn’t so experienced after all. Although Amy had pointed out all the bells and whistles on the Seadoo before they took off, when the Seadoo appeared to have run out of gas, her guest forgot that there was a reserve tank!

In addition to the usual safety rules, here’s some new rules we’ve come up with:

1. Even if a guest claims to be experienced, run them through the paces and make them take you on a drive before allowing them to use your PWC. Have them start and stop the PWC several times while out on the test drive. Test their memory for the reserve tank. Then test them again 15 minutes later.
2. Fill the gas tank every time someone takes the PWC out.
3. Keep a whistle and long rope on board and show your guest how to use them.
4. Show them a lake map and delineate exactly where they can go. If the lake is low don’t let them go very far at all. Also have them tell you what direction they are going.
5. Give them a strict time limit of about 15 minutes.
6. Give them instructions about how to tie up the PWC before leaving it on shore. (Don’t use the lanyard as a rope!)
7. Make sure your own boat is working and in the water for recovery.
8. If you don’t have a working boat, make sure you know that a few neighbors have boats on the water and that they are home and are willing to help.
9. If all else fails and you get into a similar panic, call 911.
10. If you are brave enough to risk a friendship, have your guest sign a release of liability form.

Many thanks to Dianne and Ronny Linley, and to Sid and Francis Sowell. I don’t know what we would have done without their selfless help.

Poll Shows Bipartisan Support for Conservation
A bipartisan poll by the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy shows that 65 percent of American voters surveyed said they were willing to support small increases in taxes to pay for programs to protect water quality, wildlife habitat and neighborhood parks. Additionally, voters will strongly consider a candidate's stance on environmental protection in deciding whom to support in November's elections.
Press Release and Poll Results

Wise County a Dumping Ground for Oil and Gas Waste Products?

Jim Joling, representing Concerned Citizens of Wise County, accused Railroad Commission employee Doug Johnson of ignoring evidence and offering uninformed testimony during a hearing last month. . . .“I now fully understand why Wise County continues to become a favorite dumping ground for the wastes produced by the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry continues to have a friend in the permitting process. It is also prohibitively expensive for any single citizen or even a small group of citizens to compete in the protest process against well funded companies like Star of Texas Energy Services and Hydro-FX. The Railroad Commission of Texas understands this and should make every effort to accommodate the limited resources of citizen’s (sic) groups who are protesting applications for these types of disposal wells. Instead, the Railroad Commission provided testimony in support of Hydro-FX’s application and ignored the will and wishes of the citizens of Wise County.”

For the rest of the story go to the Wise County Messenger at http://www.wcmessenger.com/newsbindata/news/news/Stateagencycriticizedoveri.shtml

Wise County Water Issues

Concerned Citizens of Wise County is an organization dedicated to the protection of our sources of water and the safety of our citizens through education and the active monitoring of Injection Disposal Well activity in Wise County Texas. Visit their Web site at http://www.concernedcitizensofwisecounty.com/

Letters to the Editor

(Note: We only publish letters if permission to publish has been granted. Letters may be edited or printed in part.)

Lake Levels, Chasing Water, and Tax Protests

Barbara, thank you for this data. For several years I charted weekly lake levels but quit when doing so became a depressing task. We all know too well that the fluctuation of the lake level is hard to take, especially for those using lake water for their lake homes. We chased the water level one year (several hundred feet) until the pump would not work anymore. My Dad then had a well dug (78 feet) but the water was smelly and the well is a poor producer of water. As you have indicated before, well water ("surface water") is undesirable at best, and nonexistent at worst. These facts could be used as an argument against rising property valuations by the tax assessor. I suspect this argument falls on deaf ears, as does most anything one would say.

I have filed a protest this year but do not expect any significant success with my efforts.

Thank you again for your efforts, Cary Moore

(Editor's Note: For data on Lake Bridgeport lake levels go to posting Sunday, May 30, 2004.)

Resident Questions Mr. Femrite on Friday

I spoke with John Fermite face to face this Friday afternoon. Since we have a property line issue. He offered to sell me the 1-acre home site next to me for around $50k. ALL plots are going to be 1 ACRE in size NOT 2.They are going to put in a water treatment fac (facility). I also asked him about the marina. He states that there is no marina being built, “that was something fabricated by the media”. I also asked him about the Boy Scout land sale, and how many people have tried to buy land from the boy scouts and was always turned down. He explained that the boy scouts would NOT break up land to sell it. He originally only wanted to buy 200 acres. The boy scouts told him it was buy ALL or none. This is the reason he said that the boy scouts would not sell to anyone. Nobody ever offered to buy it all. The name of the community will be called GRAND HARBOR. So to sum it up, each home will be 1 acre, there is no marina being built or planned, there will be a water treatment fac (facility), it is called Grand Harbor.

Lenny Gilbert

(Editors Note::Will this dispel the latest rumor that waterfront lots will go for $150K? Mickey – take note!

Email Editor

Grand Harbor at Lake Bridgeport To read newspaper accounts of the planned new development go to the April 26, 2004 posting and read how to access the Star-Telegram posts. Then go to the April 24, 2004 posting to find the links.

For Great Wise County Links Visit Lake Bridgeport http://www.lakebridgeport.com/

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