Karris, who has been in his position for almost a year, noted his background with the DNR as well as the number of officers for this area. He stated there are three current conservation officers along with a corporal with another officer being assigned in November.
He spoke of attempts to streamline event permit process and pier permits which may not be a reality until next year. He also stated he has been ordered to “stay arms length away” from the Oakwood matter.
When it came time for questions from the audience, discussion focused on bouys. Property owner Garth McClain questioned the locations and policing of placement of bouys. Karris noted the officers don’t really police the locations and use the good neighbor policy. While the officers do carry GPS devices or range finders on their watercraft, those are used when determining if a citation is to be issued to a boater for violations too close to shore.
“We may make courtesy calls,” he stated suggesting to the homeowner that the buoy is too far out, but the department suggests a program to have a committee or organization maintain the buoys on the lakes that uniformly places the buoys at the 200-foot line. He cited several lakes in which property owners associations install the buoys.
Along the same topic, Jerry Babb asked about the legality of the orange buoys over the upright buoys. It was noted that in relation to use for water navigation the upright buoys are to be used and must be visible at night so are equipped with solar lights.
Karris told Wawasee property owners that officers are taking an aggressive stand on operating watercraft while intoxicated meaning more boaters are being stopped. He explained there are two individuals who have chosen to be a part of a patrol program in which all they do is check watercraft operators for impaired operations. He noted there were 11 arrests made the previous weekend.
He asked boaters not to take offense to being stopped as it is only an “attempt to reduce fatalities.”
Karris added that three officers will be offering a three-day boating class at Patona Bay on Lake Tippecanoe but a minimum of 10 people need to register. He noted the department will offer classes whenever an organization wishes to have one presented and there are classes offered in the schools.
- During the individual committee reports and updates, it was noted:
- WPOA was shorted 220 flags, those members not receiving one should contact the office.
- Carolyn Anderson, board member, suggested as an association to suggest individuals place pier numbers at a visible location on their piers to assist locating residences from the lake. It was noted the association will check with sign companies and other businesses for possible suggestions to
- provide homeowners.
- Attorney Steve Snyder noted the easement has been signed and recorded for the trail to extend on Eli Lilly. He noted the trail will be 18-feet off the pavement as it rounds the curve. Work is expected to begin next week.
- The fireworks show is progressing and is in the process of being built. It will last 24 minutes 37 seconds.
- The family breakfast will be June 23, and the annual meeting will be held in August at the WACF Educational Center.