As the waters of Lake Cumberland continue to recede, the community is coming together to clean up debris that has found its way to our shores.
What is hoped to be the first of several community cleanups throughout the region will take place next Saturday, March 23, at the General Burnside Island State Park.
"The enthusiasm and willingness of so many from the community to band together to clean up our beautiful lake has been very exciting," Tammie Nazario, President and CEO of Eastern Kentucky PRIDE (Personal Responsiblity In a Desirable Environment), said. "We have the opportunity to turn what some see as a negative situation into a very positive situation. Right now, all the debris and trash are on or near our shorelines. It's a great opportunity to plan a cleanup and remove as much as possible while it's all concentrated."
Last week, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck, Burnside Mayor Robert Lawson and Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley met with local tourism officials, Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, representatives from Congressman Hal Rogers office as well as other civic and church leaders as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave its blessing to plan the event.
"I'm so proud of our community coming together and taking charge of the situation we find ourselves in from the Lake Cumberland flooding," SPEDA (Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority) President and CEO Chris Girdler said. "We all know how important the tourism industry is to this economy. It's the number one employer and the third largest industry in the commonwealth of Kentucky. We just need to continue to share that message that we're open for business here on Lake Cumberland."
There are no fewer than four fishing tournaments planned this spring that should each attract hundreds of fishermen to the lake. According to Nazario, tourism expenditures exceed $200 million a year for the five counties surrounding Lake Cumberland.
"Keep your eyes and ears open because we'll have several opportunities for our residents to jump in and make a difference," Judge Kelley said. "We're proud of our lake. As bad as this [debris situation] is, it's a good opportunity to clean up our lake while its at a high water mark.…This is a good opportunity to pull together and work together."
Eastern Kentucky PRIDE will provide gloves, trash bags, safety vests and bins. Volunteers are encouraged to dress appropriately for weather and terrain, particularly regarding footwear.
The Burnside Island cleanup will be from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 23. Volunteers should report to the first covered pavilion across from the park pool. Registration will begin there that Saturday at 8 a.m., though individuals and groups are encouraged to preregister through the "Take Pride - Keep Lake Cumberland Beautiful" link at somerset106.com.