LPA Update from General Manager

By Susan Thompson

Lake Panorama’s summer season is half over, which means the LPA staff is busy on lots of summer projects. That was the message from John Rutledge, LPA general manager, at a “Coffee with the GM” session June 29.

The dredge, which had been operating in the upper basin, was moved north of the debris trap that day. “It isn’t standard procedure to keep the dredge in the upper basin this long, but we had some catch-up work to do,” Rutledge said. “The dredge now will work in the river north of the debris trap until the end of this season.”

Rutledge said the dredge couldn’t be moved earlier in the week because of debris caught in the trap that first had to be cleaned out and hauled away. “We’ve been fighting high water flows and the debris trap has been full,” Rutledge said. He then provided some history on the current debris trap.

The trap was purchased and constructed in 2009, and has been successful retaining debris at high flows. It has only failed twice. Once was in 2013 with the third highest river flow since recordkeeping began in the 1970s at 13,200 cubic fee per second. The flow was too much for the shackle on the east shoreline, which was later replaced with a heavier version.

The second time was in 2015, with a flow of 9,000 cubic feet per second. It’s believed a large tree made a direct hit on the I-beam anchor point on the west side. “We don’t believe 9,000 cubic square feet is too much for the trap, but the direct hit was fatal to the boom,” Rutledge said.

“We’re very pleased with how the debris boom has been functioning,” he said. “This allows our staff to clean the debris off the boom at that one location, rather than chasing it all over the lake for several weeks. This is one of those behind-the-scenes things that isn’t easily visible to the membership, but it is a great benefit.”

The Lake Panorama Rural Improvement Zone (RIZ) wetlands are functioning well. “The first two – one protecting Helen’s Cove, the other Hughes Cove – are starting to look like wetlands,” Rutledge said. “Cattails and other vegetation is growing, and the water pools are helping hold back sediment and filter nutrients.”

A third wetland in the Burchfield watershed is on track for fall construction, with several state and federal agencies cooperating on the project.

Rutledge next discussed the need for a new LPA maintenance building. He said the current building on the east side, which was built in 1973, is undersized at just 4,000 square feet. “What the LPA does for its members is exponentially more today than it was in 1973,” said Rutledge. “And the equipment needed also is exponentially larger, so more shop space is needed.”

An engineer’s report shows the old shop is corroding, and rehabilitation isn’t a cost effective option. Plans and locations for a new shop are being discussed. The proposed building would be 11,400 square feet, and is estimated to cost $1.5 million.

Locations being considered are to rebuild at the current site, or west of the Brethren Church on flat ground now being used for hay production.

“Trying to rebuild at the current location seems like trying to drive a round peg through a square hole,” Rutledge said. “It would require removing the existing building, and extensive grading.”

“Moving the shop east is appealing because it would provide more space. This also would make it possible to use the existing cold storage building for boat storage,” he said.

Rutledge said the maintenance staff was working on finishing roadside mowing throughout the Lake Panorama community before the Fourth of July weekend. This mowing is done four times each summer. He noted the staff is trying to address patches of wild parsnip that are popping up.

Rutledge reported Jerry Armstrong, LPA Security chief, is recovering from shoulder surgery after his accident, and is back to work. The LPA has openings for part-time employees in the security department, both for summer water patrol, and also year-round. “We’re looking for people with a good demeanor and a good driving record,” Rutledge joked. He encouraged LPA members to spread the word about this opportunity.

Plans for upgrades at the water plant are moving forward, with both engineering and financing on track. Rutledge said he expects the project to be put out for bids in September. The LPA already has been tentatively approved for a 20-year loan at two percent interest. Once the bids are back and a contractor chosen, the LPA board will again discuss financing options.

Rutledge noted he and his LPA staff remain in conversations with the Guthrie County engineer regarding ideas to maintain and improve Sage Trail, from 200th Road to the Burchfield bridge. Rutledge stated the county engineer is reviewing options and understands this is a high traffic area.

The new sports courts at Boulder Beach are open for play. Some additional rock will be spread along the fence line when things dry up, and grass seeded around the perimeter this fall.

At Panorama West, installation of a new irrigation system continues, with completion by the end of July. Some new sections of concrete cart paths will be added in late July and August. Once these projects are complete, Friends of Lake Panorama will determine how much money remains from the McLuen estate gift. It may be possible some money will be available to help renovate the sand traps.

Rutledge said there have been some young people using school permits to drive other places, such as the golf course or sports courts. These permits are only to be used for driving to and from school and school-sanctioned events. Also, these permits restrict passengers to siblings, or no more than one non-family member. He said LPA Security is making contacts with young people and parents when they see violations.    

The next Coffee with the GM will be Friday, September 7, beginning at 10 a.m., at the Lake Panorama National conference center.