Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pomona Lake hopes to make a splash as it turns 50

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 3/28/2014

Pomona Lake officials hope to bring back lake-goers who haven’t visited in awhile, David Green said.

September will mark the lake’s 50th anniversary and instead of one day of celebrating, Pomona State Park and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are playing host to a year-long celebration with events throughout 2014, Green, operations project manager for Melvern and Pomona Lakes, said.

Pomona Lake officials hope to bring back lake-goers who haven’t visited in awhile, David Green said.

September will mark the lake’s 50th anniversary and instead of one day of celebrating, Pomona State Park and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are playing host to a year-long celebration with events throughout 2014, Green, operations project manager for Melvern and Pomona Lakes, said.

“We’re doing a program this year that is a recognition for people that camp or stay at the lake 50 nights during the 50th year,” Green said. “They can fill out an application and they’ll receive recognition for staying 50 nights during the 50th year and we’ll put their name in for a drawing of local merchants providing some prizes.”

The lake was built in 1963 and dedicated Sept. 5, 1964, Green said. The main purpose of building the lake was for flood control, he added.

“There’s five project purposes of the lake: flood control, water supply, water quality, fishing and wildlife and recreation,” he said. “Several people in Ottawa were actively involved in lobbying to help get Pomona Lake built, especially after the 1951 flood.”

When a lake is built, the U.S. Congress sets five purposes of the lake, Green said, depending on the use of the lake. Some lakes may have purposes such as flood control, hydropower or navigation, he added.

The cost of the project was about $13.2 million, with flood protection savings far higher, Green said.

“For the tax payers, what they put in to have it built, their benefits from just flood damage is over $210 million and that’s not counting providing the amount of water quality and stream flow into the [Marais Des Cygnes River] year-round,” he said.

The 50th anniversary celebration begins 9 a.m. today at Pomona State Park, 22900 S. K-368, Vassar, with shelter visits, walk-through tours of the cabins, an RV show, boating and safety demonstrations and an Easter egg hunt set for 1 p.m. Vendors also will be on site.

Other events are set to continue throughout the summer with a disc golf tournament, fishing derby, Pomona ski club ski show, a fun run/walk and more.

“One of the things I’m excited about was in 1964 they had a Miss Pomona pageant and we’re going to bring back that pageant,” Stephanie Watson, Osage County economic development executive director said. “Dave [Green] and a few others have been looking on Facebook trying to find queen candidates from 1964 because we’d like to invite them back for our celebration.”

Not only does the 50th anniversary celebration want to bring in new visitors, Watson said, but bring back those who might have forgotten about Pomona Lake.

“From an economic standpoint, it’s always our goal to draw people into the county and by using the 50th anniversary celebration, we hope to reach more families with some events,” she said. “We’re doing a big campaign and something different to get peoples attention, and hopefully they’ll come out to Pomona Lake this year. Since Osage County has two reservoirs, tourism is kind of overlooked by locals, but it is big part of our sales tax revenue.”

Another new event this year is the car show/drive, Watson said, which will hopefully showcase 1964 cars, boats and RVs by having them drive throughout the park.

For more information on the kick-off event today and other events throughout the year, call Pomona State Park at (785) 828-4933.

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