Local News

City looking at dredging area near Veteran's Beach boat ramp

On some Sundays, boating activity is heavy near the boat ramp area on Lake Jackson at Veteran's Beach. But a local boating enthusiast warned that the activity, which includes fishing tournaments, could dry up if the channel isn't dredged to remove sand, he said. Danny Copeland said boaters tired of having their crafts stuck in the sand are going to other locations, such as Lake June. Sebring's city government, as a result of the situation, is looking at having the area dredged. City administrator Scott Noethlich said it's an ideal time while dredging equipment is already out on the lake to fill a hole at Pier Sebring Beach.
Former Highlands County Administrator Carl Cool, who was involved with designing the project and getting it permitted back in the late 1970s and early 1980, at the request of Sebring officials, looked at the work that needed to be done. He said about 1,700 cubic yards of sand would have to be removed. Energy Resources has offered to do that work for about $38,000, Cool said. He said that once the project plugging the hole is completed Excavation would remove its equipment by way of Veterans' Beach. Cool said as a result of boating activity over the years, part of the problem is that a sandbar was created and that has caused some of the boats to get stuck. Cool said the city would need a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, but said that should not be a problem because "this is considered maintenance dredging." The city already received a permit to do the actual dredging to create the channel in the early 1980s, he said. Cool said most of the channel still remains, leading him to believe that the city won't have to do more work for "25 years or more." It would be a tragedy if the city doesn't fix the situation, Copeland said. On some Sunday's 45 boats or more come to the area and benefit the economy, he said. The nearby Sunset Beach Motel is often full during those weekends, he said. If no one could get to the boat ramp, the motel would suffer from loss of business, said Nancy Taylor, the manager. With the motel on Lake Jackson, it gets a lot of business from boaters, she said. But boat owners are increasingly looking elsewhere, Copeland added. The City Council delayed making a decision. Members said they are hoping to get help from Highlands County and other organizations involved with the lakes to pay for the project. In other matters, the Council rejected all bids for solid waste pickup and sent the issue back to the solid waste committee to a second request for bids. Council members John Griffin and Bud Whitlock opposed seeking new bids. Council members said the bid specifications for commercial pickup were confusing. Questions were raised previously as to whether any of the bids fully complied with the specifications. In other matters, the council remembers former council member Owen M. "Marty" Young, 73, who died last week. Young served on the council from 1979 to 1982. Mayor George Hensley, who served with Young during part of that time, said Young was conscientious and conservative, yet was willing to consider new idea.

jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834