Shutdown sends officials scrambling

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Columbia County's $1.1 million bass tournament megaramp at Wildwood Park is closed and inoperable - despite a $105,000 project last year that was supposed to keep the ramps usable during low water.

Boat ramp extensions at Wildwood Park, which Columbia County spent more than $100,000 to install last summer, have fallen apart, rendering the ramps unusable. This weekend's tournament will have to launch from other ramps in the area.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Boat ramp extensions at Wildwood Park, which Columbia County spent more than $100,000 to install last summer, have fallen apart, rendering the ramps unusable. This weekend's tournament will have to launch from other ramps in the area.

Although repair options are under study, the closure will complicate this weekend's Skeeter Owners Tournament, which already has 197 boats registered and anglers coming from as far away as New Jersey, Ohio and Arizona.

"It is a challenging situation, and the county is trying to work on this so it won't continue to happen," said Beda Johnson, director of Columbia County's Convention and Visitors Bureau. "But for Skeeter, we definitely have some challenges."

The current plan is to have participants launch from other ramps, including those at Keg Creek, Cherokee and Petersburg, said Stacie Adkins, the county's community events manager.

"For this weekend they will launch at other places, but they will still have the weigh-ins at Wildwood," she said.

Participants in the annual event include angler teams and boats from about 15 states, mostly across the Southeast.

Wildwood and its six-lane tournament ramp have lured in many major tournaments - including three consecutive Bassmaster events - since it opened four years ago.

The ramps were designed to accommodate boat traffic even if water levels fell to 316 feet above sea level - or 14 feet below full pool.

Currently, the lake is at 321.8 feet above sea level, meaning the ramps should be operable even if the water fell another 5.8 feet.

The problem, according to project manager Chip Mobley of the county's Facility Services Department, is that ramp extensions installed last fall apparently are not working properly.

The extensions added in 2006 included a series of concrete mats that were supposed to extend the ramps 40 linear feet - to the 316 mark. But they don't work.

"What we've run into is a silt condition we didn't know existed out there," Mobley said. The mats have settled into areas once filled with silt, making the ramp extensions unstable and unsafe.

Contractors are considering a different fix involving technology used by the Army Corps of Engineers at other ramps.

"We're looking into a more rigid type of concrete push-off slab to bridge the problem areas," Mobley said.

Although work is already under way to design - and hopefully fund - the needed improvements, it will likely be later in the year before any work can commence, he said.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (7) Add comment
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wa4kns@yahoo.com
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wa4kns@yahoo.com 09/18/07 - 12:03 pm
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that just like govment...

that just like govment... people drown people 20 years ago still in senter...

gnx
7
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gnx 09/18/07 - 04:26 pm
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Oops! Did no one do a

Oops! Did no one do a thorough geological study to check for silt and other contraindicated conditions before the extensions were placed?

iletuknow
8
Points
iletuknow 09/18/07 - 04:29 pm
0
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That is the picture of 1.1

That is the picture of 1.1 million taxpayer dollare spent? Tell me no!

mikelj
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mikelj 09/18/07 - 08:30 pm
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the problem is not the ramps

the problem is not the ramps its the dang corps fault.and it happens every stinking year.

justus4
101
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justus4 09/19/07 - 07:10 am
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Law breakers everywhere.
Unpublished

Law breakers everywhere. Clearly poor planning and engineers looking the other way, while contractors "get paid." I thought Columbia Co. was the best and brightest. Ha! Another example gross incompetence by those over-paid yahoos.

Little Lamb
46022
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Little Lamb 09/19/07 - 07:59 am
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You have to be bright to

You have to be bright to continue to keep your job while ripping off taxpayers year after year with these "sweetheart" contracts to your relatives and buddies. Yes, I'd say Columbia County employees and commissioners are bright indeed.

rb23
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rb23 09/19/07 - 08:36 am
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It's also called the results

It's also called the results of using the lowest bidder. Most of the time you get what you pay for.

mojoinaugusta
35
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mojoinaugusta 09/19/07 - 09:25 am
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sounds like Columbia county

sounds like Columbia county has a few things in common with Richmond county

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