By Craig Gieler

Sometimes we like hearing good news. Recently, I reported on one community in Jackson County working together to save Staghorn Lake. That community is called Staghorn Plantation and is comprised of about 250 homeowners living in single family homes on large 1-3 acre lots near Nicholson. The good news is that sufficient funds were raised by the community with some aid from the neighborhood association to repair the dam spillway.

Now that the community has the necessary funds, Staghorn has entered into a contract with Griffin Brothers, a well-respected engineering firm, to begin spillway reinforcement at the end of November 2021. At that time the water level of the lake will be reduced eight feet with every effort made to preserve the existing fish population. According to Carla Fowler, the Staghorn Neighborhood Association grounds chair, our contractor will be placing a new liner inside the existing large spillway pipe that is heavily corroded and thankfully hasn’t burst. Repairs should take around five weeks with the lake level down before refilling for two weeks.

So, as you drive along Hwy 335 near Nicholson, don’t be surprised when you see all that heavy equipment during the Christmas season. It is just critical that this work is done now because if the dam should break, it would cost much, much more to repair.

I spoke with Pam McGee who heads the Staghorn Lake Capital Campaign Committee that orchestrated the successful campaign to “Save Staghorn Lake." According to Pam a majority of neighborhood residents contributed to the spillway repair.

This is particularly interesting because most residents do not live on the lake. Many realized that the community would never be the same if their wildlife sanctuary filled with large mouthed bass, blue gills and croppies became a mosquito filled swamp. Many residents just didn’t want to lose the recreation opportunities such as swimming, fishing and kayaking. Staghorn Lake is tested regularly and qualifies for swimming just the same as a neighborhood pool.

One resident I spoke with during a community meeting told me that they often had gone to Hilton Head and rented a place with family there for a week during the summer near the beach. But as prices at Hilton Head have skyrocketed it was easier to have guests stay at their large Staghorn home and walk to the Staghorn beach with its three covered shelters. It was a $2,500 home rental versus $300 resident association membership fee.

So, during this coming holiday season when you think of things to be thankful for, the Staghorn community is thankful for great friends and neighbors. Thanks so much to the Staghorn Lake Capital Campaign Committee led by Pam McGee. Members are Sylvia McCart, Vicki Long, Jenn Webb, Cheryl Martin and Amo Gerard. Thanks also to association president, Dwayne Lacey.

I guess it is helpful to remember that you and perhaps the community that you live in have the power to work together to do big things. We really do need each other in these difficult times.

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