Commonwealth Journal

July 2, 2013

Lake ready for busy July 4

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

Never mind the showers. Independence Day is the busiest holiday of summer and the welcome mat is out. The Ohio Navy is headed to Lake Cumberland Country!
Houseboats at all marinas are reserved. Rental boats are primed to hit the water. Tents are staked at camping areas along the lake.   
Some visitors with roots deep in this area are simply coming home. Grandma is ready; she’s got dinner on the stove. Grandpa is looking down the road; they can’t wait for the children to arrive. It’s a homecoming!
The weatherman is the only one not wearing a smiley face. He wants to rain on our picnic.
Phooey on him. It won’t be a washout but it appears Mother Nature will compete with numerous fireworks shows planned during the festivities.
Granted, there may be thunder and lightning, but it will take some doing to outdo Somerblast, the city-sponsored fireworks celebration at Somersplash. The pyrotechnic extravaganza begins at 10 p.m. Saturday at Somerset’s magnificent water park.
Of course, the higher level of the lake is the buzzword. Tom Hale, operations manager for the reservoir, said the water is in fine shape.
“There’s hardly any debris ... oh, maybe an isolated chunk that people should watch for, but basically the lake is in fine shape,” Hale reported. This is the first July 4th holiday in six summers that the lake has been on the rise.
A rather comprehensive survey of vacation retreats by Somerset-Pulaski County Convention and Visitors Bureau indicates a lot of folks will be staying an extra day or two.
“We checked marinas locally and around the lake and they are all happy, busy and optimistic,” said Carolyn Mounce, executive director of the bureau.
In summary, she said, houseboats and boats were 86 percent booked on Monday, the day the survey was taken. Expectations are the remainder will be taken by Thursday, the first full day of a lengthy 102-hour holiday period.
Most of Pulaski County’s more than 1,400 rental rooms were booked Thursday through Saturday with indications vacationers will be pulling out for home on Sunday.
Burnside Marina is ready for the crowds.
“All our houseboats are rented for the weekend and all our small boats are rented,” said Shawnda Mounce, spokesperson for the marina. “We expect a pretty good weekend.”
Hale said all Corps-operated recreational areas are booked solid. He is particularly pleased with activity at Fishing Creek Recreation Area, used lightly during the past six summers because of the low level of the lake.
The boat launching ramp at Fishing Creek Recreation Area is in use and campers and fishermen are back, Hale indicated.
Looking west across Fishing Creek at what for six summers has been dry land one can see Pulaski County Park surrounded by water.
“They’re coming back to the county park,” said caretaker Mike McQueary. He said the noticeable change is in the number of picnickers and swimmers since the higher level of Lake Cumberland has brought water back to the park.
“This is the first summer in six years that people can swim,” said McQueary. “The beach is not like it use to be, but there’s water ... we’re letting them swim,” he said.
McQueary said all shelters at the park are reserved and camping areas are filling up. “They will be full for the holiday,” he assured.
 General Burnside Island State Park is bracing for a big crowd.
“People are excited about the lake being higher,” said Judy Smith, employee in the pro shop.
“The camping area is booked solid ... the golf course will be full,” said Smith.