Fishing holes off limits

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May 12, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Allen County commissioners voted Tuesday to make off-limits two fishing holes on Elm Creek that have been used by legions of Iolans for decades.
Larry Crawford, who lives half a mile south of the creek along State Street in Bassett, told commissioners off-road traffic at one fishing spot threatened to erode the road’s shoulder and that the contention of many was that things other than fishing went on under the nearby State Street bridge.
Minutes later, Bill King, director of Public Works, said he would like to close the area upstream near a dam on the creek north of the old Lehigh Cement plant. Access to it is over county property and near maintenance shops, equipment and fueling facilities.
“I definitely would like to keep people from going back there,” King said.
As for the State Street spot, King agreed it would be better if people didn’t drive off the road and onto the right of way strewn with shale that has filtered down over the years from the mound that overlooks Lake Bassola.
“If you aren’t going to close it, we probably should put in a rock road,” King said.
Crawford said he had noticed young people riding all-terrain vehicles in the area with no regard for preserving the road’s shoulder.
Commissioners said they would notify Sheriff Tom Williams and Kansas Department of Parks and Wildlife officials of the closings, which will put violators at risk of being cited for trespassing.
Or will it.
Williams said he wasn’t keen on pursuing people fishing near State Street, where they have since a low-water bridge there was abandoned more than 60 years ago. “As a matter of fact, we aren’t going to ticket anyone for fishing there,” he said.
Further upstream, those trespassing near sensitive areas of county property will be another matter.
The dam on Elm Creek was built about a century ago to impound creek water for use by the old Lehigh Cement plant, which for years was a major industry employing hundreds. The plant closed in the 1960s.

CRAWFORD also encouraged commissioners to enter a cooperative agreement with Iola to erect lights along State Street from the creek north to the city limit.
He visited with city officials whom, he said, agreed to put up the lights — labor and equipment costs were figured at about $4,600 — and provide electricity if the county would buy poles, lights and other materials, at a cost of $4,626.
Though in favor, commissioners put off the project until next year because of budget concerns.
“Two years ago it would have been (financially) easy to do,” King said, “but my budget is pretty tight now.”
Commissioners also deferred at least a week a decision on whether to fund part of the SAFE BASE free dental clinic planned for enrollment time in USDs 256, 257 and 258.
Angela Henry, SAFE BASE director, asked for assistance last month, noting that $7,000 would be sufficient to fund the project. A grant she sought was not approved. Commissioners then asked for an accounting of how the money would be spent.
Information Henry gave them was that $4,754 would go for school supplies, a part of the clinic each year.
“This is giving me some heartburn,” said Commissioner Dick Works, Humboldt. “I’m not sure it’s the county’s responsibility to bribe parents to take care of their kids’ teeth.”
Rob Francis also said he was uncertain whether he wanted to support the project, noting the county faced a tight budget this year and “we have people in the county who need raises.”
Chairman Gary McIntosh said he would ask Henry to attend next Tuesday’s meeting to give more information.

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