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Archive for Saturday, September 5, 1998

LABOR DAY CROWDS HIT PARKS

September 5, 1998

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Area lakes are ready for a big holiday weekend as families enjoy their last summer fling.

Going into the Labor Day weekend, weather forecasts of ``sunny and hot'' mean lake forecasts of buoy-to-buoy boat traffic.

True to form, camping sites at northeast Kansas lakes already were filling up Friday afternoon, with the after-work crush still to hit.

State park managers say Labor Day rates third for attendance, behind Memorial Day and Independence Day.

``It is going to be one of our bigger weekends,'' said Bill Porter, region supervisor for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. ``For a lot of people, this will be the last time they get out with their kids.''

Jerry Schecher, park manager at Clinton Lake, said the heat is sort of a mixed blessing. It makes the lake water inviting for swimmers but tends to scare off some campers who choose air conditioning over fresh air.

Schecher said the park tends to get more people out for the day than for overnight stays.

With the help of the Army National Guard, a parking lot, boat ramp and other amenities were added to Clinton State Park this summer, Schecher said.

But most lakeside parks have stood pat, making getting ready for the holiday a simple matter of sprucing up by park staff.

``They spend extra time getting buildings clean, mowing grass to get it where it looks very good,'' Porter said.

Camp sites at Hillsdale Lake near Edgerton already were busy by early afternoon Friday.

``We're just about completely filled up in our campgrounds,'' said Jean Gatlin, Hillsdale park office assistant.

Campers looking for a place to land might consider giving Melvern Lake a try, manager Sally Wilk said.

``We always have ample space,'' Wilk said.

At Pomona State Park, a support group called the Friends of Pomona State Park will host events throughout the weekend, including a biscuit-and-gravy breakfast, family dance and children's boat races.

Though it was a relatively dry August, the lakes themselves are in good shape, Porter said.

``They're all in good condition,'' he said. ``There is no major high water or major releases I'm aware of.''

Fishing, at least at Clinton Lake, has been steady this summer with anglers taking their share of white bass, channel cat and crappie, said Larry McGlinn of The Lunker Sportsman Shop, 941 E. 23rd.

Porter said he hopes this weekend amounts to a good end to what has been a good summer.

``Our visitation at all of our parks are up,'' he said. ``Revenues are going to be up.''

Porter said this summer also has been a safe one without any serious accidents.

To continue that trend, wildlife and parks law enforcement officers will be on patrol.

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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