2011-02-19 / News

Buckeye Lake considering Fourth of July festival

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Could the Village of Buckeye Lake host a major Fourth of July festival this year? Mayor Rick Baker wants to see it happen. He told council members Monday night that he’d like for the village to sponsor a celebration in addition to the lake community funded annual BLASST fireworks display.

“I would love for this to eventually develop into a large 4th of July celebration,” said Baker. “Right now we will start with some amusements and see where it goes from there.” He said the major expenses would include such things as police protection and traffic control, portable restrooms, cleanup, and electricity. It would take place July 1 and 2. “We are hoping for sponsors to take care of the upfront expenses, but what is made off of the percentage from the amusements should more than cover costs plus make a substantial contribution to the (BLASST) fireworks fund,” he said.

Baker said 25 percent of the amusement company’s gross earnings would go to the village. He said he’s had experience organizing festivals as the president of Lancaster’s Fourth of July Committee.

Council member Jeryne Peterson said she used to live in the Western Licking County community of Alexandria, which sponsored the successful “Alexandria Days” celebration every year. “I’m for it,” she said, adding that other communities like Granville and Pickerington sponsor Fourth of July festivals, which really add to the communities.

Council member Donna Thompson said she supports the idea as well, but was concerned that closing off Buckeye Lake streets would cause a traffic jam to and from the BLASST. Baker said there are many site options. If downtown were chosen, the festival could set up one side of the Hebron Road boulevard and two-way traffic could be maintained on the other side. The North Shore Boat Ramp may be another option.

In other council news:

• Council members voted to provide Buckeye Lake Museum Director J-me Braig with an additional $500 – bringing the total to $2,500 annually – for advertising and promotion. Thompson was the only member to vote against the expense. She didn’t say why.

“(Braig) is probably the main contributor of visitors to our village,” said Council President Charlene Hayden. She said the museum sponsored Queen of the Lake II, a large pontoon boat, attracts many people into town for lake tours, and passengers often conduct business in the village before and after they take the tours. Hayden said the money doesn’t go directly to Braig, but rather to the museum for an annual Buckeye Lake guide and advertising book.

In a related issue, Hayden said the Queen of the Lake II will be docked at the Buckeye Lake Marina in Millersport for free. She was clear, though, that passengers will still board and disembark at the North Shore Boat Ramp. Hayden said the marina where it was docked changed hands and the new owners had different plans for the Queen of the Lake II’s former dock area.

• Council member Clay Carroll said a proposed village cat ordinance “hit a wall,” and is completely stalled. “Public awareness,” he said, is probably the best approach to controlling what some see as a serious problem with stray animals, particularly cats, in the village. The proposed ordinance aims to reduce the number of village strays and requires some cats to be spayed or neutered.

Carroll added that the public safety committee also discussed allowing street legal golf carts on village streets.

• Peterson said the finance committee met to discuss holiday lights for the upcoming season. “We’re considering starting a small committee to get the ball rolling as the holidays will be fast upon us,” she said. Water bills will contain requests for donations and the village solicitor will establish a non-profit corporation so businesses and individuals can make donations. “We discussed several ideas for lighting the village and keeping with our lake theme,” said Peterson.

Peterson will chair the holiday lights committee. She said the village applied for grant money to get started. Lighted outdoor ornaments cost roughly $150 each. Road Supervisor Mark Dymek will help determine how many ornaments are necessary.

Peterson said the committee discussed creating a mock dock of sorts with pylons and rope down the center of the Hebron Road boulevard and lighting the rope for the holidays. Any new lighted ornaments purchased will likely have LED lights, which are brighter than regular lights and far more energy efficient. Carroll said AEP would donate used utility polls to the cause, but the ropes may be expensive. “We hope to have some new ornaments this holiday season nonetheless,” said Peterson.

• Council members also took a moment to remember Richard “Dick” Leindecker, who passed away Feb. 8 after a brief illness. He was 75. Leindecker served on the Buckeye Lake Village Council for 12 years and was captain on the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. He was credited with making many improvements to the Buckeye Lake fire and police departments.

“We’ll all miss Mr. Leindecker deeply,” said Peterson.

Council member Cricket Ruton said he’ll be “sorely missed” at the fore Department.

“He did a lot for the community,” said Hayden. “He will be missed.”

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