Lake unfixed nearly 2 years after damage

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 2004

Marcus Weaver, from South Carolina, rides a four-wheeler with son Wyatt, 7, in the dry lake bed in Lake Forest subdivision, as Stone Weaver, 5, left, Elizabeth Henley, 8, and Ashton Ghrigsby, 7, watch stunts Friday afternoon. Weaver was visiting friends and relatives for the holidays. The lake has been dry for nearly two years. (Brian LodenThe Vicksburg Post)

[11/27/04]Youngsters Ashton Ghrigsby and Elizabeth Henley on Friday rode their bikes on a former 19-acre lake as visiting relatives took turns riding a four-wheeler through the grassy field.

Lake Forest Subdivision residents can ride four-wheelers and bikes on the lake that’s been dry now for nearly two years.

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As the children wait for a spin on the all-terrain vehicle, they play on a dock with no water underneath.

But the best part about the former lake for them, is definitely “going fast,” 7-year-old Ashton said.

Though it’s turned into a huge playing field for neighborhood kids and even adults have begun growing gardens on patches of land, the lake is still a draw to the subdivision off Oak Ridge Road.

The children’s parents, Scott Henley and Anna Ghrigsby bought their house about a month ago, with hopes the lake will eventually have water again.

“We took that into consideration, that they were going to fix it,” Henley said. “I think they’re waiting on more money.”

Eugene Payne, president of the Lake Forest Recreation Association, estimated the cost to repair the lake in the 102-home subdivision to be between $30,000 and $35,000.

He would not say how much has been raised through donations and fund-raising garage sales.

“We need quite a bit more,” Payne said. “We’re just trying to raise funds to repair it.”

The lake has been dry since February 2003 when a damaged pipe caused water to flow from the lake and across the spillway during heavy rain that month.

Payne said the recreation association has been given the go-ahead to make repairs from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the agency that oversees usage of public and private dams in the state.

A permit was needed from the DEQ because the dam is considered highly hazardous because it is in a residential area, and Payne said the association obtained the permit months ago.

Chad Sonnek lives on Lake Forest Drive and though his house doesn’t sit on the lake, he said he’d like for the subdivision to have it back.

“My children grew up and did a lot of fishing on that lake,” he said. “I think a lake like that makes the neighborhood.”

“As soon as we’re able to, we’ll do it.”

Meanwhile, tractor equipment purchased by homeowners that helped make repairs sits in the former lake bed and the neighborhood children have a giant back yard.