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July 03, 2012 | 11:16 AM
BLOOMFIELD — Perhaps it's an idea local officials should have pursued several years ago, or at least after a group of volunteers stopped taking care of Pell Lake.

On the phone Wednesday, June 27, Bloomfield Village President Ken Monroe announced he is trying to establish a citizen's committee to manage the lake, "similar to what the Mud Hens used to do."

Right now, no one's officially taking care of it on a regular basis. Were it not for the proponents of the Badger State Outboard Association's recent power boat races and the Mud Hens, it's debatable whether a portion of the lake's weed overgrowth would have been removed this summer.

So now, the guy who in May supported the creation of an official lake management district is starting a volunteer group to take care of Pell Lake.

But isn't this the same guy who, several years ago, said the town — back when it was a town, and he was town chairman — shouldn't be removing weeds from the lake?

"I thought that because the Mud Hens were doing a good job," Monroe said. "It wasn't necessary for the town to do it at that time."

The Mud Hens were a volunteer group which began in the 1990s, cleaning weeds from Pell Lake by dragging a bed spring across the water. Eventually, the group's 15-plus members would use three harvesters to remove weeds from Pell Lake.

However, Ted Lightfield — who led the Mud Hens after the death of its principal member, Scott Haldeman — said during an interview in June that the group could no longer support its weed harvesting operation. So, in 2010, its remaining members decided to go on hiatus.

According to Lightfield, people started to lose interest in the Mud Hens after Haldeman died. He also said the economy worsened and some Mud Hens wanted money for their efforts on the lake.

The Mud Hens helped the organizers of the recent power boat races obtain a permit so they could remove weeds from the lake. There were so many weeds in Pell Lake that the race had to be rescheduled.

"I've had a lot of people call," Monroe said. "The boat races really brought everything to a head. People were asking me why isn't the village doing anything."

But technically, this committee Monroe wants to organize isn't a body of the village government — not yet, anyway.

"If our attorney says yes, it has to be done through the village, it will be done through the village," Monroe said. "But at this time, it would be just volunteers. We would like to have at least eight to 12 people."

He said they could be village residents, but "it wouldn't hurt to have a couple from the town" of Bloomfield.

"Hopefully, we can have this in place in a couple weeks," Monroe said.

Lake issues

It's unclear as to whether the lake management district idea is on the back burner.

"There are about 18 different things we're trying to figure out at one time," Monroe said.

But the State Department of Natural Resources visited Bloomfield Town Hall for a special meeting in June. Monroe said he wants to know how much it costs to obtain a permit to remove weeds from the entire lake. The Mud Hens purchased a permit for $90 so the power boat races enthusiasts and other volunteers could clear an area 1,800-by-50 feet along the north shore of Pell Lake.

Monroe said he wants to know if they charge per mile, or by the acre.

He has other questions.

"Is it worth having a lake management district?" Monroe asked.

What he said is known so far is that the committee he is forming will have to answer to the DNR. It is not a committee of the Bloomfield Village Board.

Monroe also said the DNR representatives at the special meeting in June discussed the conditions which brought on the excessive amount of weeds in Pell Lake -- the early spring and summer, ample sunlight, lack of tributaries which flow into the lake, lack of rainfall.

But how will it affect the water quality?

"They actually said the lake was very clean and clear," Monroe said. "Yes, it's weedy, but they said every lake is weedy this year."

During a May interview, Monroe said residents began complaining about the lake weed overgrowth in March. He suggested creating a lake district and said the village is spread too thin financially.

The village also doesn't have a weed harvester. Monroe said to purchased the necessary equipment to remove the weeds, it could cost a quarter-million dollars.

However, the village has four lakes — Tombeau, Benedict and Powers can be found within the village.

There is a district which manages Tombeau and Bendict lakes.

Monroe, who also is a Walworth County Board supervisor, said he recently was selected to represent the county on that district's board. He said whatever happens, "we're not going to exclude them" from the issue and wants to work with them.

Other than that, seeing as how this new committee doesn't even have any members yet, the slate's pretty clear.

"If we can get a committee going Ö we can invite other lake districts over and see how they (operate,)" Monroe said. "This committee, though, it's something that's going to have to be done. We have to just start with a group that's committed and just start from scratch."


Tags: Bloomfield-Genoa, Featured Feature story

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