“Come on in, the water’s fine!”

That’s the message the Kentucky Department of Tourism is sending vacationers about Lake Cumberland. The department is spending $100,000 to promote the lake because the water is lower than normal during vacation season.

Tourism Commissioner Randy Fiveash and his department yesterday hosted a houseboat tour of Lake Cumberland to show media representatives from across the state that Lake Cumberland is still a vacation paradise. The lake covers 38,000 acres and is the third largest lake in Kentucky.

Highlight of the tour was an announcement from Stan Cave, Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s chief of staff, that $857,849 has been approved from the Transportation Cabinet’s discretionary fund to extend 29 boat ramps in Pulaski, Wayne and Russell counties.

Some $64,935 of the funds will be used to improve seven boat-launching ramps in Pulaski County. Ramps to be extended are Cave Creek in the Diamond Acres Community; Doodletown Road in Garland Bend; Echo Point on Aderholt Road; Jasper Bend at Jasper Bend; Piney Woods at Naomi; Springwater at Pole Bridge; and Waitsboro Crossing at the end of Old Waitsboro Road.

Some $313,505 is for extension of 13 ramps in Wayne County and $479,409 is designated to extend nine ramps in Russell County.

Fiveash said 21 ramps along the lake are ready or will be ready for use during the Memorial Day weekend, beginning May 25. The operational ramps are those with the most parking area and are where most people launched their boats in the past, the commissioner noted.

He said a total of 41 launching ramps, including the 29 announced yesterday, will be made usable during the upcoming tourist season.

Operational ramps in Pulaski County during the Memorial Day weekend are Omega Park (new location of Buck Creek Boat Dock), General Burnside Island State Park, Old Waitsboro Crossing, Lee’s Ford Dock, Slate Branch and Waitsboro, according to a map released by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.

J.T. (Jerry) Miller, commissioner, Kentucky Department of Parks, said the launching ramp at General Burnside Island has been out of operation for several days, but will be in use this holiday weekend.

Miller said an overflow parking area has been created left of the road on the island side of the causeway. He noted that parking on the grass on the west side of the road leading to the launching ramp is no longer permitted because of construction on the golf course. A shuttle is being provided by the Department of Parks to take people from the causeway area parking lot to and from the lake, he noted.

Hilda Legg, executive director in the Lake Cumberland Region for the Governor’s Office of Interagency Services, emphasized how important Memorial Day is to the tourist industry in this area.

“If they come Memorial Day and have a good experience, they’ll come back,” Legg declared. “This is a beautiful, beautiful place to enjoy a holiday.”

Tourism officials are counteracting negative publicity generated by a decision announced January 22 to lower the level of Lake Cumberland some 43 feet below normal to ease pressure on troubled Wolf Creek Dam. The dam has been classified as in high risk of failure and a $309 million rehabilitation project is under way.

Television, radio and print journalists from all parts of the state spent all day yesterday on the houseboat tour. They traveled from the state dock at Lake Cumberland State Park to Wolf Creek Dam and back. Most of the comments overheard during the day were extremely favorable; “...There’s plenty of water in Lake Cumberland and the scenery is breathtaking.

“Perception is worse than reality,” said Fiveash. “Reality is, there is plenty of water in Lake Cumberland.”

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