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Bait shop raising money to extend boat ramp
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There are only two public boat ramps left on Lake Lanier, but an effort led by a local bait and tackle store owner could change that.

Candy Hammond, owner of Hammond’s Fishing & Boat Storage, has collected nearly $12,000 in pledges toward extending the non-functional Charleston Park boat ramp by 10 feet.

The extension would make the ramp accessible, "even if the lake goes down another 10 feet," Hammond said. "I’m just calling people up and other people are calling other people up after I call them — a lot of people are working for this. Having access to boat ramps makes a big impact on several businesses on Lake Lanier."

Hammond still needs at least $6,600 in pledges to raise enough money to rent a cofferdam, a watertight enclosure to expose the bottom of the lake, enabling a concrete ramp to be constructed.

Joey Nichols, owner of Viking Concrete Inc., said the cofferdam would cost $18,694 to rent from Portadam, an Atlanta-based company.

"I’m a fisherman in the county," Nichols said. "There are a lot of fishermen who are trying to get involved in this thing to donate money.

"The more money we can come up with, the more of these ramps we might fix, because right now, we’re only going to be able to open one up at that price. It takes a lot more concrete to do the rest."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which currently leases Charleston Park to the county, has already given approval for the project, said Pat Taylor, corps assistant project manager.

"It’s up to the county at this point, whether or not they want to go through with that effort or not," he said. ‘The ball’s in their court."

In an effort to get the ball rolling, Nichols has been working with Tommy Bruce, assistant director of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Though Bruce said the project doesn’t have to be approved by county commissioners, it needs to come from the department’s budget.

Bruce said the concrete will likely cost between $8,000 or $9,000, plus the cost of work involved. The department must bid out the project, which he said could take up to three weeks.

"I’ve got some money in this year’s budget, but I’m hoping the county hasn’t closed this year’s accounts out yet," he said. "I don’t know where the money will be coming from — whether it will come from 2007 or 2008."

Regardless of which budget will fund the project, Bruce said funding the project "won’t be a problem."

Hammond said she is still collecting pledges to reach $18,694, but if there’s a community outpouring, the overflow might be used for additional ramps.

To pledge money for the project, call 678-300-0631 or e-mail

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