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Lake Lanier Association to address key issues at annual meeting
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Lake Lanier meeting
What: Lake Lanier Association annual membership meeting
When: 5:15-8:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Forsyth County Conference Center, Lanier Technical College, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd.
Admission: Free for LLA members. Nonmembers may attend but are encouraged to join the association at the meeting.

The Lake Lanier Association will address some heavy issues at its annual membership meeting Wednesday, including boating safety, troubled Flat Creek that runs through Gainesville and tri-state water management.

“I’m thrilled to see that we are at a point where we’re sort of pushing the envelope on new initiatives that we talked about for a long time but haven’t been in the position to do, particularly safety,” said Joanna Cloud, the Gainesville-based group’s executive director.

The organization’s Lake Lanier Water Safety Alliance recently sponsored Boating Safety Awareness Day, handing out safety-related information and safe boating decals to boaters to place on their vessels’ dashboards.

The alliance and the Lake Lanier Legislative Caucus took off last year in the wake of deaths of three children in two highly publicized incidents on the lake. Since then, the legislature has passed laws addressing safety, including lowering the legal limit of blood alcohol to .08 percent.

Another safety measure involves placing solar lights on some of the buoys and hazard markers around the lake.

“I think that’s a fabulous service to do for the community and I’m excited to see that up and running,” Cloud said.

The association also has been tracking other issues important to Lake Lanier, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ development of a water control manual for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.

The document, slated to be completed in three years, will define water management operations in the basin, an issue that is a long-standing sore point for Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Cloud she expects to hear an update on that issue from Wilton Rooks, an LLA board member who also belongs to the ACF Stakeholders, a group seeking common ground on sensitive issues in the basin.

The association also plans to present an update on Gainesville’s Flat Creek Restoration Project.

The city plans to improve an area of Flat Creek between E.E. Butler Parkway and Georgia Avenue. The work, which could cost between $1.3 million and $1.8 million, will include enlarging and deepening a pond at the old Gainesville Mill and building a new detention pond off E.E. Butler.

“We about have (the project) all designed,” said Horace Gee, the department’s environmental services administrator.

Construction could start in March and finish in October 2014.

Key concerns are water quality and flood control.

Flat Creek, which runs about 6 miles, has overflowed in the past, flooding neighboring properties during strong rains. In a deluge last August, it became a polluted mess, particularly as it flowed toward a West Hall cove, where the creek empties into Lake Lanier.

“I’m very, very happy to see us doing something with Flat Creek,” Cloud said. “It’s a great project. Horace, I know, has been very instrumental in moving that forward.”

Gainesville also is hoping to work with the corps on a water quality project involving the stream as it runs from Dorsey Street toward Browns Bridge Road.

The Lake Lanier Association also is planning a “recognition of service” for longtime president Jackie Joseph, who is stepping down to take a seat on the board of directors. An election to replace Joseph will take place at the meeting.

She said she’s ready to move on.

“In any organization or time frame, things do change,” she said. “... There are a lot of new members that may come along with some new ideas or innovative procedures.”

The association has grown to about 1,400 members from about 50 or so when first held the reins 25 years ago, and much of that boom is due to residential growth around the lake, Joseph said.

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