History in the Making for Storm lake
It was a historic day Thursday as the final signature landed on an agreement forming the Lake Improvements Commission - the new governing body of the ongoing dredging and watershed protection effort for the lake.
Representatives of the Lake Preservation Association, Buena Vista County and the cities of Lakeside and Storm Lake gathered in the Storm Lake City Hall for an official ceremony signifying the creation of the new commission.
"Never before have we gathered together in this fashion to do something for the lake," said Storm Lake Mayor Jon Kruse.
And while dredging is on the forefront of many a mind, Kruse reminded people of the Lake Improvements Commission's other goal.
"Dredging is an improvement, watershed work is the protection," he said.
Gary Lalone, LPA president, said the project will benefit the community in a variety of ways.
"We are not only looking at saving a natural resource, but we're also providing economic development for Storm Lake and Buena Vista County," he said.
This is also a project where everyone can play a role, either whether through donations or volunteering.
"We're going to need a lot of help," Lalone said.
The agreement summarizes the twofold goals:
* A continued dredging project to enhance the lake's value for recreation and as a fish habitat, as well as to guarantee its future existence.
* To identify and promote water quality and watershed projects in the watershed.
The commission will be composed of a seven-member board of directors - two each from Storm Lake, LPA and Buena Vista County, and one from Lakeside. Terms are for four years, the first of which will terminate Aug. 31, 2006. Each will receive one vote on commission affairs.
Also, ex-officio members will include one each from the Iowa DNR, NRCS, Buena Vista Soil and Water Conservation District and Iowa Lakes RC&D. Also, county supervisors will appoint a farmer who lives in the watershed to serve in a similar capacity.
Commission members are already being appointed. The Lakeside City Council appointed Al Schutz to serve as its representative, and the LPA has selected Gary Lalone and Steve Roth. The Storm Lake mayor said he plans on recommending two names to the city council next Monday, while the county supervisors will decide on their commission members next Tuesday.
Also, the Storm Lake City Clerk will serve as the secretary/treasurer for the commission. The Storm Lake City Administrator will oversee business affairs for the group.
The commission's board of directors will vote on a chairman and a vice-chairman. The commission will meet at least quarterly.
The major responsibility of the commission will be to allocate funding for lake projects. Right now that amount stands at well over $1 million in pledges and donations.
Almost all aspects will be under control of the commission, including determining which watershed projects to implement and when; selecting what areas of the lake to be dredged and their priority; and either purchasing or leasing spoil sites.
The county board of supervisors will purchase a dredge, up to $600,000 for the 10 years the project is estimated to last. That will be matched by the City of Storm Lake with a possible spoil site already in possession and additional funding of up to $225,000.
The City of Lakeside has contributed $30,000 to the project, and it has promised 25 percent of its local option sales tax during each year the project is operating. That is estimated between $8,000 and $10,000.
The LPA will conduct fundraising activities for the Lake Improvements Commission.
At this point, the LPA has raised over $400,000 in donations and pledges, according to Lalone.
"The parties all acknowledge that the long-term success of the Commission will be dependent upon the Commission receiving regular funding on an annual basis to cover the cost of its projects, and in particular the dredging operation, and that if such funding does not materialize, the ability of the Commission to achieve its state purposes will be in jeopardy," the agreement reads.
Also, the commission will be responsible to pursue further funding, whether it be through voluntary contributions, state and federal grants or from government entities, including those represented on the commission.
And while the Lake Improvements Commission will oversee projects and employees, the commission will not employee anyone. Unless working with a third-party contractor, all employees will be hired by the City of Storm Lake, with their salaries to be reimbursed to the city from commission funds. The Storm Lake City Administrator has sole authority to hire and fire those employees.
The full text of the 28E agreement is available on the Pilot's web site, www.stormlakepilottribune.com.