The crumbling Big Bear boat ramp was officially closed for public use last week as county crews from various departments are working around lake levels to replace the broken concrete slab, which has wreaked havoc on boaters for at least two seasons.
The issue came up during last week's Marshall County Fiscal Court meeting when Commissioner Kevin Spraggs asked if anything could be done to repair the ramp before the tourist and boating season returned. He said a number of constituents had reported trailer and vehicle damage as a result of the large, broken chunks of concrete. Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal said Deputy Judge-Executive Brad Warning and Marshall County Roads Superintendent Wendy Greer were meeting with an advisory crew the next day to discuss the best approach for repairs.
Greer told The Tribune-Courier when she visited the site Feb. 5 and was able to see the full extent of the damage while the lake was at winter pool level, she immediately closed the ramp due to safety concerns--"it's a hazard."
"We've had complaints on it for several years, but we only have a small window of opportunity to work on it," she explained. "The lake has to be at 354', winter pool level, for us to be able to get our equipment down there to work on it and it's never at that level for very long -- sometimes only for two days."
Greer said staff with the road department crew will use their large equipment to break up and remove the broken concrete to make way for the new ramp. She said the county's maintenance crew will likely construct the ramp using forms off site, and then once it's set, the road department will use its large equipment to set the ramp in place. She noted a similar method was utilized at the Kentucky Dam boat ramp several years ago.
Greer estimated the project will require $15,000-20,000 in material and an additional $5,000 in labor, with a total estimated project cost of $25,000.
She said they hope to have the project complete before spring arrives and boating season returns, but noted the crews will have to work around water levels they can't control.
In other business:
• Spraggs also asked for signage for the boat ramps across the county to discourage small vehicles from parking in the spots designated for trucks and trailers. County Attorney Jason Darnall said they would need an ordinance in order to create enforcement of the measure; Neal said he didn't believe the county deputies would have time to enforce parking at the boat ramps. They're expected to discuss the measure during the next fiscal court meeting on Feb. 18.
• Michael Oliver with Kentucky Transportation Cabinet presented the rural secondary recommendations with the amount which will be allocated for state road repairs and maintenance in Marshall County. The total amount allocated for Marshall is $1,059,941 for 7.657 miles of resurfacing.
• Bonita Walker returned to the fiscal court asking for their intervention with trespassers on her property. She reported damaged property including lost crops, trees and fencing for her animals, caused by ATVs, horses and even a full-sized pickup truck.
Neal told her the fiscal court "doesn't prosecute cases" and reminded her that Darnall explained the proper process the last time she visited the fiscal court. "We're not the sheriff's office and we're not the criminal court," he added. Marshall County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tim Reynolds told her to bring issues to their office so the deputies will be able to assist, saying they would be willing to help if she will do her part to help them address it. He noted in order for an officer to cite a trespasser, the officer has to personally see the person trespassing --otherwise, they have to have evidence presented through the criminal court system before a citation can be issued.
• LaDawn Hale with the U.S. Census Bureau said beginning mid-March, people will start receiving requests to fill out a census document. This year, for the first time ever, people will have the option to fill it out electronically. If it's not completed, then census workers begin knocking on doors.
For more information about the process, visit 2020census.gov.