MINSTER — A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Friday, June 15, at Lake Loramie State Park, to commemorate the park’s newly completed spillway.
The project was undertaken as part of a statewide initiative by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to repair and rehabilitate state-owned dams in an effort to ensure the safety of Ohio’s lakes and surrounding communities.
Jim Zehringer, director of the ODNR, was in attendance and opened the ceremony by giving some background information on the spillway project, of which construction began in 2016, and its association with the overall improvement efforts taking place within the past seven years at state parks throughout Ohio.
“Now, when you think of ODNR, you think of camping, and you think of fishing, and you think of hiking and boating and hunting, but you don’t think about dams,” Zehringer said. “We actually own 185 dams.”
Zehringer explained that of those 185 dams, 53 are considered Class I, meaning if flooding were to occur, there are people in the inundation zone who would be directly affected.
He went on to say that out of these 53 Class I dams, 27 are “high hazard dams,” meaning they need immediate attention and rehabilitation. Zehringer said the dam at Lake Loramie State Park was classified as both Class I and “high hazard.”
“When we began this program seven years ago and began looking at our dams, we had 27 high hazard dams throughout the state of Ohio,” he said. “At the end of this fiscal year, we’re going to have six. That really says something (about) the administration, Gov. (John) Kasich, Rep. Faber and former Rep. Buchy, (who) supported not only our dams, but all of our state park capital projects.”
Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina 84th District, and former Rep. Jim Buchy were in attendance for the ribbon-cutting, and both spoke prior to the main event.
“When I had the privilege of being state representative, I was so appreciative of the commitment of Gov. Kasich and the legislature in supporting resources,” Buchy said. “I just want you to know how proud I am to, at that time, have represented you, and to work with everybody to make sure that generations to come are going to enjoy the fruits of this labor.”
Faber noted the importance of investing in dams and infrastructure in order to avoid a scenario in which property, or even people, are put in harm’s way, and recognized the ODNR for its role in the overall improvements taking place as a result of the supportive legislature.
“The leadership of ODNR and the folks who are doing the work at ODNR every single day are some of the very best public servants we have in Ohio,” Faber said. “The improvements that have happened to our quality of life and our parks under Kasich and Director Zehringer, to me, aren’t just phenomenal, they’re extraordinary.”
Fort Loramie Mayor Randy Ahlers also spoke briefly, expressing the importance of the lake and park to the citizens of Fort Loramie.
“It’s an honor to be out here with Jim (Zehringer) and our representatives who have done so much for this area, the lake, the region,” Ahlers said. “For the village, the lake is a wonderful asset.”
Last on the podium was James Hilovsky, ODNR’s lead engineer for this project.
Hilvosky thanked the project team at ODNR, the ODNR Dam Safety Program, as well as the engineers and contractors on the project, which included Michael Baker International and Millers Brothers Inc.
“I want to say thank you to a very dedicated team,” he said. “They made this possible and brought it from concept to reality. To pull of a project like this — multimillion dollar project — with minimal impact to the community — we can’t express our appreciation enough.”
In total, the spillway project cost $5.8 million to complete. The design, called a “labyrinth,” results in a seemingly zigzag-shaped spillway and is a structure designed to convey large flows of water at low heads by increasing the effective length of the weir, or dam, crest with respect to the channel width.
According to Brian Afek, project manager from Michael Baker, the Lake Loramie labyrinth weir is one of the first of its kind to be built and activated.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.