Lafayette County Judge Mike Rowe had an enthusiastic message for the crowd at the, Friends of Lake Erling, PUBLIC meeting on Saturday December 5th.
We were reminded that Lake Erling is recognized as a valuable resource for Lafayette County. Activity on the lake is responsible for making a certain impact on the local economy. While managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish commission the lake came to be known as an excellent fishing lake, drawing fishermen from far and wide. The public has always enjoyed many other benefits of our lake that draw people from near and far. Those benefits include hunting, recreational water sports, boating, swimming and simply sight-seeing.
One initiative Judge Rowe is personally committed to is the ongoing effort to seek out industry that could be drawn to the area by the availability of the County’s abundant local water supply.
Such an investment in the future of Lafayette County would provide our young people throughout the County an alternative to being forced to leave home in order to search for employment.
Keeping our young people local would help grow the County. The increase in local income would help strengthen the local economy. The additional increase to the County’s tax base could help create more local job opportunity and help improve the County’s ability to provide services to the residents.
Judge Rowe spoke of other investments in the County’s future such as researching opportunities for rural sewer districts, not only to improve sanitation, but also enhance property value. He explained the difficulty sometimes encountered when seeking grants in today’s economy, but he is experienced in the process and diligent in his pursuit of funding.
The question was asked, “When will the Corps of Engineers get involved in the situation on Lake Erling”?
Judge Rowe informed us that he has been in communication with the Corps since shortly after IP donated to AGRED the portion of the lakes bottom that IP owned and the land IP owned around the lake. Judge Rowe has so far conferenced with six of the Corps attorneys, and has recently received correspondence on their progress toward resolving the issue of unrestricted public access to the lake.
At this time the Corps has initiated meetings with AGRED to work through the contractual obligations the Corps and International Paper Co. failed to conclude during the sixty three years since the 1952 Act of Exchange was implemented. When AGRED signed the 2013 agreement to assume IP’s contractual obligations, they joined the ranks of those who have failed to act to fulfill those obligations. More meetings will be forthcoming until an acceptable result can be achieved.
Judge Rowe went on to say that there were promises made and legal rights granted to the public as third party beneficiaries to the Act of Exchange. He made it clear that he will ensure those legal obligations in the Act of Exchange are recognized and fulfilled and the promises made to the public by those involved in the Act of Exchange would be promises kept.
The question was asked, “Is anyone else involved in the effort to resolve the issues on Lake Erling”?
Judge Rowe assured us that in his opinion everyone who can help or needs to know is in the loop, all the way from Lafayette County to Washington DC. He said the situation is being monitored closely by people attentive to the needs of Southwest Arkansas.
Judge Rowe welcomed questions and reminded us all that his door is always open to the residents of Lafayette County.