Coffee Thoughts and Education about our Lakes, Mountains and Natural Resources of Polk County. From the desk of Commissioner Yoder
I would like to address the public concerning my thoughts about Lake Adger and Turner Shoals Dam. Lake Adger was bought by the county in 2009 for $1.6 million after negotiating down the price from $5.4 million in consideration of maintenance to the dam and lake. The county had citizens coming to the commissioners meetings that were concerned about the water sources in the county. The county was going through a severe drought at the time and the thought was let’s secure a water source for our citizens, and at the same time Northbrook can produce power with Turner Shoals Dam. The price to make our water asset usable is very expensive.
The question I keep asking myself as your Commissioner is: am I willing to make the sacrifice now to reap the rewards of a needed resource for our future? As I weigh the pros and cons, I have decided Lake Adger is well worth the expense now to preserve for our future generations. In my research, I have found that there was a span of 41 years from the first time a public water plan was put on our county’s desk until the time the county implemented the first public water plan. A water treatment plant would cost millions, which the county could not afford then and cannot afford now. However, it did give birth to the county achieving a public water source for our citizens through Inman Campobello Water Authority, and is still in effect to this day. My thought is that we will probably never take water directly out of Lake Adger in my lifetime but indirectly it will become a water reservoir for water resources down river that will service Polk County citizens; and Polk County owns that water source. I do take seriously the responsibility as your Commissioner to plan for our future generations. Water is always a precious natural resource and commodity.
The idea has been put out to the public by some that the expense of Lake Adger is not worthwhile; should Polk County sell it? It has already been tried…no takers. And just so you know, as your Commissioner, I would not vote to sell Lake Adger. It is too valuable to our future generations. Go to the state, get a permit to take down the dam, turn Lake Adger into a river. This idea is truly just an unrealistic thought. Polk County would be mired up to our necks in lawsuits for years to come as we have a long–term contract with Northbrook Power. I feel that we, as Commissioners, are responsible to take care of and bring some challenges in maintenance of the lake and Turner Shoals Dam. As of now the county is putting $150,000 per year into a fund designated to repair the dam. That fund now exceeds one million dollars, and repairs are scheduled to start in the near future. Let me be clear that the dam is structurally sound, and a lot of the repairs are to be to the concrete façade. We cannot and would not compromise the safety of our citizens down river with a structurally unsafe dam.
The idea in a recent article in the Tryon Daily Bulletin that dam repairs are indirectly taking away teacher positions in our county is an unrealistic stretch of the imagination. I have personally talked with our School Superintendent, Aaron Greene (who by the way is doing a great job for the education of our children. Currently our Polk County Schools are #1 in the state). The reasons for the six teacher positions and two assistant teacher positions being taken away are cuts from the state. Also, in the last ten years our student enrollment has decreased. The amount of monies from the county has not decreased. Also, I would like to make mention, even as we have kept our dam repaired and safe for our citizens, we have built a middle school, built an early college building, put on a library addition at Sunny View Elementary and approved a new and improved renewable energy maintenance program for our schools. We as a Board of Commissioners current board, would never neglect one important responsibility for another important responsibility. I feel as a Commissioner, I need to figure out how to take care of all these important responsibilities with the resources and monies you as citizens have entrusted to us.
The DNR is currently on track to do maintenance dredging at the dock site of the lake before Memorial Day. We are also going through a long permitting process for long term permits for dredging, and no tax dollars of Polk County citizens are being used. Polk County is working to put a dredge on the river to keep silt from coming into the lake with Zero tax dollars in exchange for materials being used. I do believe as a Commissioner that the public water issues are complex and require a lot of thought and vision for the future, and I do think that Lake Adger is in that equation. It is a great lake to fish, stocked regularly with muskie, and also has an assortment of other fish species (bass, crappie, etc.). It is a great place to live and swim, and have other recreational activities that all of our Polk County citizens can enjoy.
There was also mention made by some that we should make Lake Adger a special tax district. The Lake Adger properties already are valued at a premium with dock fees to Northbrook, HOA fees, etc. I would never propose, as your Commissioner, forcing Lake Adger residents to pay a special tax to live at this great place in Polk County, any more than I would force an overreach special tax district in other parts of this great county. I want to say as your Commissioner, that I am never for bigger government, more taxes and more regulations.
Just planning what happens today so tomorrow don’t just happen…for without a Vision the people perish.
Polk County Commissioner