QUESTION: What do you see as the most positive change to the lake area and the most damaging change to the lake area since you have lived here?
Business expansion both a positive and negative
I have been coming to the lake for over thirty years, and have lived here for over eight. What appears to be the most positive change has been the big-box and major franchise stores that have set up shop here. They have brought substantially more year round jobs and big city conveniences. This has also been the most problematic change for the area. Along with more year round jobs and big city amenities come big city problems such as more crime, more transients, and more congestion. I used to love vacationing here in the winter because of the tranquility and friendliness wherever I shopped. Now I receive a lot of the same rudeness I received from business establishments when I lived in the big city. Be careful what you ask for, or at least ask for it in moderation.
Transportation issues are a mixed bag
While not an unmixed blessing, the most positive change has been improved transportation due to the toll bridge and other road improvements. These have made it easier for those of us who live on the quiet side to enjoy the entertainment and shopping available on the other side of the lake. Of course, the quiet side isn't as quiet as it used to be.
I have been here almost 19 years. Quite some time ago there was a question on ballot to limit the size of boats on the lake. That initiative failed and we now have ocean going ships plowing down the main channel, throwing up dock destroying wakes. Many people are now afraid to use their boats on weekends due to their fear of these behemoths on the water.
Various changes are positive and negative
I had been a frequent weekend visitor to the Lake of the Ozarks since my first visit on August of 1963 and became a full time resident on January of 1996. My wife and I enjoyed our “honeymoon” here in April of 1964 and hope to stick around long enough to celebrate our 50th this coming April. Indeed we named our first born child Laurie (who is now 48), after the town where we met. Thus I have indeed seen both positive and negative changes occurring over the years. Now for the comparison, i.e. first the good news: (1) for many years most of our lake roads were gravel. Black topping was a great improvement. (2) Lake area road improvements, especially bridge replacements were another positive development. (3) The installation of natural gas has eliminated the problem of propane storage tanks and supply. (4) Communication improvements such as cell phone towers, cable and satellite access for computers and television. (5) Law enforcement improvements such as Camden and Morgan County Sheriffs’ Departments providing increased services and protection, including the helpers for hire program, (helpersforhire.com), all contributing to our safety and peace of mind. (6) Since the lake area has become a retirement haven for senior citizens, the services for seniors has greatly improved, resulting in several positive developments such as (a) “Senior Centers” providing food and social events, (b) providing transportation needs, i.e. OATS etc., (c) the availability of in home services organizations now providing assistance to Seniors with medical needs and help in and around the home. Indeed, funding from your personal property and real estate taxes from “senior services levy” provides much of the grant money in support of these services. The bottom line for all of these improvements for Senior Citizens results in us “old folks” being able to stay in our own homes longer.
Page 2 of 3 - Now for the “most damaging changes” to the lake area: (1) the increased number of those “weekenders” who come to the lake to raise hell and party, resulting in vulgarity, profanity, drunkenness and rudeness. (2) “Back in the good old days”, you never saw so much trash along roadsides, especially the lake roads as you see now. Indeed, now we annually must provide both roadside and lake cleanups just to remove trash and debris. (3) There are far too many people on the lake with boats that are too large. The end result is that boat docks are constantly being damaged (mine included) by the wakes from these large boats. We previously enjoyed a boat ride down the channel on our 20 foot pontoon. Not anymore! You virtually risk your life and safety while trying to dodge these large boats coming straight at you at a high rate of speed. (4) Water quality is also a concern. Now when I troll in my fishing boat, I leave a contrail of suds behind me. You never saw that 20 years ago.
Here is the irony; larger boats or lots and lots of more weekenders coming to the lake would NOT be a problem if these same people had the attitude of courtesy, respect, sobriety and politeness. It’s like the old boy said, you can’t fix stupid. I would add that you also are never going to fix rudeness and disrespect but you asked for my opinion regarding “changes in the lake area” over the last 20 year, and you got it, so there you have it.
Water Patrol changes will prove harmful
Three thoughts came to mind regarding positive change. Number one is the business development on the west side of the lake. It was always a hassle going to the Osage Beach area. Do you take the toll bridge, which adds cost to your trip, or drive all the way around which took time? There are still some specialty shops we go to "over there" but majority of our needs can be meet here locally. The second positive change is the 54 bypass. For those trips we do end up making to the OB area, I quickly figured out the exit to get where I needed to go. Finally, the new Hurricane Deck bridge. As I now drive across the bridge and look at the underside of the old bridge, I should have been more scared with the rusted out structure I'd see driving across the old bridge.
I don't see any changes (or lack thereof) as damaging, but do feel there are some which may prove harmful. Incorporating the Water Patrol into the State Police has resulted, in my humble opinion, to a decrease in on-the-water patrols. And from the number of violations I see in just my little cove, boaters are aware of it also. We used to see two or three patrols through our cove on holidays and weekends during the season. Now maybe just once in a great while. You need a license to drive a car, fly an airplane, hunt and fish, but any yahoo can operate 500+ horsepower boat and do just about what ever they want. State Police, State legislators someone needs to look into more control over who operates and what they operate on this lake. It took one too many electrocution deaths to get some action taken on dock safety, how many will it take to get changes on boating regulations?
Page 3 of 3 - Brad Mitchell