County will revisit fishing hole ban

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May 19, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Area fishermen didn’t take kindly to action by Allen County commissioners last week that essentially put two fishing holes on Elm Creek off-limits.
Commissioners had decided to limit access to the old low-water bridge just east of State Street and close a road over county property leading to the dam on the creek east of Washington Avenue and north of where Lehigh Cement operated a plant until the mid-1960s.
“This (issue) has been No. 1 in phone calls since I’ve been on the commission,” said Commission Chairman Gary McIntosh during Tuesday’s meeting. “We can’t ignore the concern.”
For punctuation, Lee Gumfory, a former Iola commissioner, Randy Misenhelter and Jeff Heinrich were at the meeting to encourage commissioners to find ways to open more of the creek to fishing, rather than close off what has been.
“I’ve fished at the low-water bridge for 60 years,” said Gumfory, “I’ve had more than 40 people call me who didn’t agree with the decisions.”
“There’s no question we acted hastily,” said Dick Works.
Neil Westervelt and Don Britt own ground on either side of Elm Creek east of State Street.
Last week Westervelt told the Register fishermen weren’t a concern for him, but those who left trash and others who went to the area for reasons other than fishing, were.
“I asked the commissioners years ago to close it off,” because of those concerns, he said.
Britt came to Tuesday’s meeting and had a similar view.
“I don’t care if people fish there if they keep the place clean and don’t ride four-wheelers on the farm property,” Britt said.
King said he was leery of people trespassing on county property near the dam, where maintenance shops, fuel storage and equipment were.
“It’d be nice to have a place on the south side of town where kids could fish,” Misenhelter said.
McIntosh said commissioners would look again at the two areas, visit with Sheriff Tom Williams, who was cool to last week’s decision, and Bill King, director of Public Works. They will view each site personally to see what they think can be done.
“I’ll ask Thrive Allen County and Vision Iola to get involved, too,” McIntosh said.

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