MWCD committee welcomes three new members

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Three new members have taken seats on the volunteer Development Advisory Committee of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD).

Jon Elsasser of Tuscarawas County, Doug McLarnan of Knox County and Joy Padgett of Coshocton County have joined the 18-member DAC, which serves in an advisory capacity to the MWCD Board of Directors and staff.

Elsasser, a Zoar resident, is retired from The Timken Co., where he served as senior vice president and chief information officer and worked at Timken operations in the United States and overseas. He is president of the Zoar Community Assn. and the former chairman of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Assn.

McLarnan, a Mount Vernon area resident, is the operations manager for the Knox County Park District, a trustee for College Township in Knox County and is on the Ohio Waterways Safety Council. He retired from the Knox County Jobs and Family Service Department. In the early 1970s he was a seasonal employee at the MWCD's Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

Padgett, a Coshocton resident, is a former member of the Ohio General Assembly, elected to terms in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. She also served as the director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia and was a schoolteacher. She is the director of government relations for Central Ohio Technical College with campuses at Newark, Coshocton, Mount Vernon and Pataskala.

The DAC was created by the MWCD Board of Directors in 1992 as an organized public support system for responsive and effective economic development, conservation and recreation programs. DAC members are appointed by the Board of Directors and serve staggered three-year terms, meeting quarterly. During its recent meeting held at New Philadelphia, DAC members made two recommendations to be presented to the MWCD Board of Directors at an upcoming Board meeting.

The DAC voted to recommend that the MWCD Board of Directors approve the reduction of the annual cost of overnight docking fees on the MWCD lakes for boat owners who have more than one watercraft. The DAC recommended to freeze the fee for the first watercraft and all owners who have one boat docked overnight, which is $65 per year for cottage site lessees and campers, and $110 per year for clubs and docking association members. For owners of multiple watercraft to be docked overnight for a summer recreation season, the DAC has recommended to cut the cost for a second and each additional watercraft in half from $220 per year to $110 per year. If approved by the MWCD Board of Directors, the change would be effective for the 2013 recreation season.

In another matter, DAC members agreed to recommend to the Board of Directors to "encourage the Board to be prudent on the issue of short-term sales of water from the MWCD lakes, and encourage a speedy resolution to the policy update for long-term sales of water." The MWCD announced in June that it would suspend sales of water from the MWCD lakes to the oil and gas industry pending completion of an independent availability analysis, expected to be done by the end of this year.

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the 16 reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving more than $10 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government, as well as providing popular recreational opportunities that bolster the region's economy. A significant portion of the reservoirs are managed by the MWCD and the dams are managed for flood-risk management by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

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