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IT’S SPRING & THAT MEANS KERR LAKE RISES – FOR UPDATES VISIT OUR FACEBOOK PAGE.

Here we were almost showing up in the drought column in Piedmont North Carolina and Southside Virginia, then came the rains.  It’s Spring and especially during April, the showers that bring the flowers usually show up.

Kerr Lake is now over 306.5 feet above MSL (Mean Sea Level – 300′ is normal full pool) and rising, expecting to crest between 309 and 310 feet.  A number of U S Army Corps of Engineers and North Carolina State Recreation Areas are either closed or partially closed due to the high waters.  We have had no information out of DCR or the Virginia State Parks.

We are currently posting information about parks and public use areas on Kerr Lake as the information is provided to us.  As the list of boat ramps and campsites inundated by water is constantly changing we will continue to post that information on our Facebook page which you can find at www.facebook.com/kerrlakeparkwatch.

If you have camping reservations from now through the weekend, Kerr Lake Park Watch suggests that you contact the reservation system for the public park entity as individual state and federal rangers may not have the latest information.

Kerr Lake Park Watch has asked the U S Army Corps of Engineers if the QRR Plan (Quasi-Run-of-River) adopted last year will hasten the departure of the flood waters.

In the final analysis, Kerr Lake is a reservoir, not a lake.  And this, well, it’s April and the showers.  You know that story.

Photo of Nutbush area 4/26/17 by Kelly N. Blake

Posted in: KLPW - Camping Safety, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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KERR LAKE AREA – Recycle Your Christmas Trees into Fish Habitat!

BOYDTON, Va. – Once again the US Army Corps of Engineers at John H. Kerr Reservoir will be accepting used live Christmas Trees until January 31st to be recycled into fish habitat.  Designated drop off areas will be located at four Corps boat ramps/day use areas located throughout Mecklenburg County.  The four areas that will be accepting trees this year are:

  • Visitor Assistance Center by North Bend Park at Kerr Dam
  • Rudds Creek Day Use Area, on Highway 58 just outside Boydton
  • Longwood Boat Ramp, on Highway 15 South, outside of Clarksville
  • Bluestone Boat Ramp, on Highway 15 North, outside of ClarksvilleEach of these areas will have designated marked off drop locations.

At the end of January the Corps will take the donated trees, bind them together, and sink them for fish habitat. Some parks already have a marked fishing reef buoy nearby which is where the trees will be placed. “These trees are some of the best forms of underwater structure. Crappie, bass, bluegills and other fish will often use the trees to congregate in and around,” according to Billy Hoffer, Conservation Biologist at Kerr Reservoir.

Outdoor Family Choosing Christmas Tree Together

Outdoor Family Choosing Christmas Tree Together

Please drop off your Christmas tree, free of decorations, to one of the four locations above so we can keep trees out of our landfills and improve our fishery here at John H. Kerr Reservoir.  Also, please remember that it is a violation to place structures in the lake without permission.

If you have any questions or concerns about this project feel free to call Billy Hoffer, Conservation Biologist at the Corps Visitor Assistance Center at (434) 738-6143 extension 6159.

Kerr Lake Park Watch adds, take the kids along to the parks when you discard the Christmas tree.  It’s a great time to take a brisk walk around the park and the area!

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS APPROVES & ENACTS QRR PLAN FOR KERR LAKE

Groups that support best use practices for Kerr Lake and the Roanoke River Basin are smiling this week as the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the approval of the QRR Plan that will allow more responsive actions for handling future huge weather and subsequent flood events.  Stakeholders, representing groups like the RRBA (Roanoke River Basin Association), Kerr Lake Park Watch, Vance County Tourism Development Authority and others, like the idea of Kerr Lake being kept at a more consistent level by the QRR or Quasi-Run-of-River Plan. And downstream, supporters want the water to come through at a faster pace and move on out quicker.

Kerr Lake Dam - Lower side USACE PIC

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Photo

With recent heavy weather/rain systems threatening this past Memorial Day’s recreational activities like camping in the parks around Kerr Lake, several groups pushed to have special action taken by the commanding colonel of the Corps, but such action is rare and it did not happen. From the viewpoint of Kerr Lake Park Watch and tourism supporters, when park users can’t get to or on a site due to high water, particularly around a holiday, that is difficult in a number of ways.

During the Memorial Day holiday such an occurrence happened when some campers were moved and others were sent home. Although most of the time there are an abundance of camping sites that number about 1,200 all the way around the lake, there is a critical shortage of electric and water sites which nearly all campers want nowadays.   Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake was one of those who had to be moved during the Memorial Day holiday, “We all were eagerly awaiting some intervention for larger water releases by Wilmington (Corps) or both the approval and adoption of the QRR and neither happened then. So I am personally watching the water creep to within 20 feet or so of my camper after I had already moved once.”

Switching gears from camper to parks promoter, Timberlake said of the Corps’ adoption of QRR, “This is monumental and one of the most positive flood operational changes that I’ve ever witnessed for the John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir. We realize how many different and differently postured stakeholders are involved in the day-to-day operations of Kerr; there are flood managers, power companies, agricultural and forestry entities, fish and wildlife representatives and groups that specifically care about the parks around the lake and groups that are focused on the river(s). The Corps has listened. The Corps has responded. And many, many have won. Our joy is quieted a bit by the recent passing of Andrew Lester, the Executive Director of the RRBA who pushed diligently for this and other good things for the Roanoke River basin. I wish he could have seen it enacted.”

In a statement, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers outlined the specifics of QRR or moving the water through the system at a more realistic amount and pace, “Previously during really wet times, like we experienced this past winter, long periods of 20,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) flood releases from Kerr and Roanoke Rapids Dams were possible,” said Wilmington District Water Management Chief, Tony Young. “Prolonged 20,000 CFS flood releases were causing harm to the lower Roanoke floodplain forest ecosystem due to long periods of standing water, as well as impacting timber operations and recreational access to the floodplain. Only when Kerr lake levels were extremely high could flood releases be further increased to 25,000 and eventually 35,000 CFS, but this did not occur very often.”

Young added that under the QRR plan, flood releases will more closely mimic the natural inflows coming into Kerr on a weekly basis and may be increased above 20,000 CFS on a more frequent basis-up to a maximum of 35,000 CFS for larger storm events. While these higher releases will inundate a larger portion of the floodplain, these higher releases will be made for a much shorter period of time, allowing the river downstream of Roanoke Rapids to return to normal much sooner. In addition, lake levels in Kerr may not get as high and will return to normal levels sooner, allowing Kerr to better handle the next flood event and reducing recreation impacts.

Timberlake added that wildlife downstream was featured in discussions but Kerr Lake wildlife factors in as well, “We saw firsthand Memorial Day weekend that when we lost campsites to water at 308 (feet above mean sea level – 300’ is normal full pool) we also saw a huge amount of displaced wildlife: deer in unexpected places, more raccoon, fox and snake sightings. But we’re all going to take a big step forward now with QRR as the water will be more manageable, so shall the shores and the parks on them, thus making Kerr Lake Park Watch a group of happy campers.”

 

Posted in: KLPW - Environmental, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS ANNOUNCES HIGH WATER CLOSURES

(Boydton, VA)   Recent heavy rainfall has caused the Kerr Lake level to rise to +308 feet mean sea level. This rise has resulted in the closure of some park areas and ramps. The following is a list of the areas that are currently affected.

Areas managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers that are closed so far are: Palmer Point Beach, Liberty Hill Fishing Access, Rudd’s Day Use, Bluestone Ramp, Staunton View Day Use, Buffalo Ramp, Grassy Creek Park, Ivy Hill Day Use, and North Bend Handicap Pier.

Ramps managed by NC Division of Parks and Recreation that are closed are:

Kimball Point Ramp, JC Cooper Ramp, Nutbush Areas 1 & 3 (Tournament Ramp is OPEN),

Henderson Point Campground Ramp and Ramp at Shelter #2, and Henderson Point Wildlife Ramp.

For campers, NC Parks advises that if you had reservations at Kerr Lake starting May 6th, please contact Reserve America at 1-877-722-6762/or on-line to find out if your reservation will be effected by the flooding. They may be able to accommodate current reservations by moving them to other campsites not effected by rising waters. This will affect on-line reservations until Tuesday May 17th, 2016.

For camping with the Corps of Engineers, if you have reservations at Rudd’s Creek or Longwood, please call Recreation.gov at 1-877-444-6777 or go online to see if your site is available. For Buffalo Park, all water front sites are closed.

For more information please call any park ranger at (434) 738-6143.

In the weekly meeting this morning, the Corps meteorologist expressed concern about another weather system that he is watching that if it hangs up like the last one, could cause concern to Kerr Lake.

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS RAISES USER FEES FOR KERR LAKE PARKS – SOME UP 50%

March 1, 2016 – New User Fees for Kerr Lake Parks           (From KerrLakeGuide.com)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 – Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Beginning March 1, 2016 fees at the US Army Corps of Engineers Day Use parks and some camping fees at Kerr (Buggs Island) Lake will change. The fee changes are part of a nationwide effort to bring the Corps’ user fees in line with state and private facilities, as well unify the Corps fee program.

The following changes are simplified and outlined for you below:

(1) Day Use Fees increase from $4 per vehicle to $5. This fee includes area boat ramps, swim beaches, picnic areas, etc.

(2) There is no longer a 50% discount for Day Use! If you have a Golden Age, Golden Access, America the Beautiful Senior, or an America the Beautiful Access you get in Day Use FREE!!

(3) The Corps Annual Pass (valid at Corps parks nationwide) has increased from $30 to $40. (There is no half-price discount, as those eligible for the discount now get in Day Use FREE!)

(4) Picnic Shelters have increased from $35 to $50 at most Corps parks. The Old Picnic Area at Kerr Dam is $100 per day. The Osage Shelter at North Bend Park is $75 per day. No discounts apply!

(5) Some Fishing Tournament Permits and other Special Event permits increased from $50 to $75. (All activities require a permit; however, some may be a minimal or no charge. Contact the Visitor Assistance Center at number below for information.)

(6) The Visitor Pass for North Bend, Rudd’s Creek, Longwood and Buffalo Campgrounds is $4. You can use your Golden Age/Access or ATB Senior/Access and pay $2. You can no longer use a Corps Annual Pass for free visits to your camping friends.

(7) The group camping fees at North Bend have increased: Piney Woods is $125 per night; Mays Chapel Group is $100 per night. No discounts apply!

(8) There are many new passes available! America the Beautiful Annual Pass (free entry at any Federal Agency park) is $80 and is available for purchase on-line or from the Corps.

(9) The popular “Every Kid in a Park” pass is available for 4th graders and their families, FREE! Please visit www.everykidinapark.gov then contact Ranger Juanita at the number below.

(10) There are other passes available to our Military.

Call for more information: (434) 738-6143. Ask for any Park Ranger.

Posted in: KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS

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OFFICIAL “FOR” COMMENT ON QRR PLAN FROM KERR LAKE PARK WATCH SENT TO CORPS

Kerr Lake Park Watch has sent its comments for the official record to the US Army Corps of Engineers.  “This is a precise and concise document in favor of the QRR (Quasi-Run-of-River) Plan, partly from us and partly from the RRBA,” said Frank Timberlake, Kerr Lake Park Watch spokesman.  “We have a number of people who have copied the short version off of our Facebook page and the public is certainly free to use this example, but it must be sent to the Corps by tomorrow night at 11:59.”

The Corps email address is:  eric.k.gasch@usace.army.mil

Mr. Eric Gasch, QRR Comments
US Army Corps of Engineers

Although we have not been in touch with the entire membership of the 400+ persons of Kerr Lake Park Watch, the majority of those reached concur that we as a group are in support of the Corps’ adoption of the QRR (Quasi-Run-of-River) Plan.  As the Public Affairs Lead, I am requesting that our opinion and comments go into the official comments record.

COMMENT:

The Roanoke River’s flow has been significantly affected by three dams near the Virginia/North Carolina border. Current dam operations hold large amounts of water in place for unnaturally long periods of time during wet years – causing long periods of flooding, damaging timber, wildlife, and fish. In turn, people who live along the river and depend upon it are also hurt. Since 2000, many conservation stakeholders, resource agencies, local property owners, and other conservation partners have worked with the Corps of Engineers (COE) to improve dam operations at Kerr Reservoir, reducing consequences to people and nature. Today the COE is proposing changing its operations.

Our first reasons are of course, based on recreational and tourism motives.  We feel that QRR will provide:

Improved Conditions in Public Parks & Public Areas – Controlling the flow of the Roanoke River through Kerr Lake using the QRR Plan would help prevent as much water as now that gets onto public parks lands.  If water levels did elevate to where it covered public areas, the use of the QRR plan would get that water off faster.

Improved Conditions for Public and Private Roads Near Flood Prone Areas – With the QRR Plan in effect, the COE could move flood waters off of public roadways and private areas much faster which has to be a huge factor towards public safety not to mention erosion and the costs of road, bridge and public area repair.

Improved Timber Stands Scientific research shows that continuing current operations, with long periods of flooding, will lead to loss of valuable hardwood trees such as oak and hickory. Over time, the forest will convert to trees with less value on the timber market such as sweet gum and red maple. Changing dam operations will reduce flood times and allow oaks and other hardwoods to flourish, which is good news for property owners along the river.

More Time on the River and in Forests of the FloodplainCurrent operations, with their high water levels, block access to the floodplain for long periods of time. Changing the dam operations will give anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts more time to enjoy the area. That’s good news for recreational users of the river; it is also good for the many businesses that cater to recreational users.

More Food for WildlifeAs oak trees disappear so do their acorns, which are a major source of food for deer, squirrels and other wildlife.  Changing the dam operations will keep the acorns dropping and ensure continued abundance of wildlife, which is good news for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.

Improved Water Quality Holding large amounts of water behind dams or in the downstream floodplain for long periods of time leads to lower levels of oxygen in the water. The fish and other animals are hurt, particularly in hot summer months. Changing the dam operations will improve oxygen in the water – reducing fish kills and ensuring that fish thrive in the Roanoke, which is good news for anglers.

Reducing ErosionLong periods of flooding lead to banks eroding and collapsing. Changing dam operations will reduce shoreline erosion on the river and in the Reservoir, which is good news for property owners.

Increasing Flood StorageCurrent operations result in sustained high reservoir levels, reducing capacity for storage of additional storm events.

Again, please see that my supportive email for the passage of the QRR plan is included in the record and counted as a very loud, “FOR!”

Thank you and best wishes,

Frank Timberlake
Lead, Public Affairs
KERR LAKE PARK WATCH
Office (919) 269-4300
Cell (919) 805-0055

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YOU CAN MAKE THE WATER LEVELS AT KERR LAKE BETTER…WITH JUST ONE EMAIL

Kerr lake Park Watch is working right up to Friday’s deadline to get its members and the public to support the adoption of the QRR Plan by the U S Army Corps of Engineers.  Kerr Lake Park Watch public affairs lead, Frank Timberlake appeared on Henderson radio station WIZS’s TOWN TALK this morning urging people to send just a short email to the Corps.

4     wizs-listen-live

The urgency is that this is the last week to make comments that count in the Corps’s official record of the 216 or water administration plan for Kerr Lake. THIS IS THE LAST WEEK TO MAKE COMMENTS TO CORPS.

Timberlake told the radio audience, “If people want higher and more consistent water levels on Kerr Lake, they have this one window of a few days to help make that difference. QRR = better water levels and conditions for Kerr Lake.”

Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to help Kerr Lake sustain more consistent levels to help recreation and tourism and is asking its members and interested citizens around the lake and those who visit Kerr Lake to take a few minutes to help for years. “It’s just a few minutes to write an email that can help so many aspects of Kerr Lake, its residents and its visitors, said, Kerr Lake Park Watch spokesman, Frank Timberlake.  “You need to write to the U S Army Corps of Engineers in support of adopting the QRR plan during the last days of the comment period.  QRR is simply, Quasi-Run-of-River, which means letting the water flow downstream more naturally than holding it up.

As a property owner, camper, hiker, fisherman or other Kerr Lake user, the adoption of QRR by the Corps into the overall 216 plan that dictates the administration of Kerr Lake would benefit you by less flooding as witnessed recently, more public areas not under water, more consistent and higher lake levels because water would be more naturally sent downstream, quicker.”

The Roanoke River Basin Association (RRBA) puts passage of QRR like this: “Restoring more natural flow to the Roanoke: It’s good news for people and nature, improved timber stands, more growth time on the river and in forests of the floodplain, promotes more food for wildlife, improved water quality, provides for reducing erosion, and increasing flood storage.”

Timberlake, the public affairs officer for Kerr Lake Park Watch said, “Our two big points we actually want to insert in the front of that list are: (1) to keep more water off public areas and (2) to increase tourism traffic to Kerr Lake both in the secondary and primary seasons. So it’s now or never, put up or shut up regarding Kerr Lake Water Levels.  If QRR is adopted by the Corps of Engineers, everyone wins.  Write the emails, now!”

The time to enter public comment about QRR being adopted by the Corps, is now as the last date in the comment period is Friday, January 29th.

Kerr Lake Park Watch has both short and long email/letter samples, which are free to the public and easily can be obtained by writing to info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org.  The official and the email address at the U S Army Corps of Engineers that public comment about QRR should be sent to is:

Eric Gasch at eric.k.gasch@usace.army.mil.

Late 2015 and early 2016 have seen a number of flood days on both local Kerr Lake roads and public areas. A Comparison of Existing and QRR Flood Operations — 2015-2016 which is plot graphic provided by Ashley Hatchell of the Water Management section of the Corps of Engineers, clearly shows the advantages of the QRR plan. The only disadvantages of QRR would be what power companies call “water spillage” which means water that moves through the system freely without having generated hydroelectric power.

QRR_current_thruFeb(11x17)

“What the QRR plan does in effect is to move the flow quicker and to allow for higher lake levels when normal conditions exist,” said Timberlake, adding, “And with Kerr Lake Park Watch, really high lake levels are among our top complaints for recreation and tourism.  So now the public can either help make QRR happen or learn to like what’s been happening to Kerr in recent years.  At Kerr Lake Park Watch, we hope they’ll write the public comment emails.”

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HIGH WATER RECEDING – COME ON TO KERR LAKE & CAMP!

The water is receding along the shores of Kerr Lake, hitting a high at a little over 305 feet above mean sea level, with full pool normal being at 300 ft.  This morning the water, which is rapidly receding was less than 304.5 ft.

That said, US Army Corps of Engineers reports no significance loss of campsite use due to water as does Virginia State Parks.  The seven NC State Recreation Areas are closer to the water with less sloping, so a few campsites are impacted by the two weather systems that dumped huge amounts of rain into Kerr Lake and its sister systems.  So only a few exception campsites are covered by water which makes it a great weekend to camp at Kerr.

10-9-15 hibernia water
Photo of a few water covered sites by Kerr Lake Park Watch – October 9, 2015

In their Tuesday meeting, US Army Corps of Engineers staffers told their stakeholders and affiliates that managing the flow through during this weather event has been taxing, ” I haven’t resorted to antacids, but those of us involved have lost some sleep.” said Ashley Hatchell, a water resource manager with the Corps.  The system got pounded by two wet weather systems with Hurrican Joaquin off the shore of North Carolina.

Kerr Lake USACE Project Manager Michael Womack sent Kerr Lake Park Watch some charts for campgrounds, boat ramps and more and how they are impacted at various water levels over 300 feet.  “Most of the numbers were compiled based on visual observation and discussion with the managing entities,” said Womack.

It would be a good idea for you, as a Kerr Lake user, to review these charts.  Many campers observe the lake level and make records and know whether to visit their favorite site or not based on water levels.

CAMPSITES

USEABLE CAMPSITES AT VARIOUS WATER LEVELS USACE 1

BEACHES

USEABLE BEACHES AT VARIOUS WATER LEVELS USACE 1

BOAT RAMPS

USEABLE BOAT RAMPS AT VARIOUS WATER LEVELS USACE 1

MARINAS (Prepared before Rudd’s Creek Marina was built)

USEABLE MARINAS AT VARIOUS WATER LEVELS USACE 1

Posted in: KLPW - Boating and Related Improvements, KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, KLPW - Water Safety

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KERR LAKE PARK WATCH WARNS TO WATCH WATER – LAKE IS DOWN!

Writing this notice may help bring rain to Kerr Lake, but the water level or lack thereof bears watching if you’re planning a camping or day trip. The water is approaching the 295-ft level, which is down 5 feet from the normal full pool level of 300 feet (above mean sea level).

At Kerr Lake a vertical changed of 5 feet in water level can mean that the shoreline can be moved horizontally by a few feet or hundreds of feet.

The main concern for campers and boaters is not the shoreline, it’s the depth and lengths of boat ramps. Some ramps have already been closed.

Although some parks will close at the end of October, there are still many good camping and boating weeks left. You can actually check the hourly level of Kerr Lake tat the US Army Corps of Engineers updates every hour at the link below and lake level info is always displayed at the top right of the website, www.kerrlake.info.

Kerr Lake Info scrnsht2m

If you’re interested you can also go directly to the hour by hour listing by the US Army Corps of Engineers or see at summary of water levels at this page, http://epec.saw.usace.army.mil/.

There’s rain in the forecast, but for now we’re asking, “How low will she go?” Just be smart and check your water level…that’s our advice.

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ROANOKE RIVER BASIN ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

Gene Addesso announces step-down after 13 years at the helm of the Roanoke River Basin Association.

In his usual quiet and calm style veteran president of the Roanoke River Basin Association, Gene Addesso announced that he will retire from that leadership role on June 26th at a board meeting of the RRBA.  A successor is not known but will most likely be elected at that time.

After 33 years as an IBM executive, Addesso assumed the leadership role of the RRBA directing it to a more fact-based, science-alert organization designed to protect the Roanoke River Basin; that protection including natural elements, outside potential threats and if need be, the government as well.

Addesso studied how the basin with all its creeks, rivers, and lakes is put together and became an expert, especially in the eyes of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.  He is considered one of the top layman on the river and its basin in existence.

Under his leadership the RRBA has grown and strengthened its affiliations, with the organization showing that it will challenge through lawsuits if necessary to protect the Roanoke River Basin.

Addesso

In a memo to friends and associates, Addesso said, “After many long years of volunteer community service to the Roanoke River Basin Association I have decide it is time for me to retire my position as President and let younger folks take the helm in moving the organization forward.

I will remain a member of the RRBA and make myself available for advise and counsel as long as it is needed. I will work to insure a transition to new leadership and coverage on all the projects. Also I must say it has been a pleasure working with you folks over the years.”

“Gene has led the fights over Uranium mining in Virginia that could potentially harm the rivers and Kerr Lake, he’s worked tirelessly on Corps of Engineers reports, plans and guide curve patterns, he joined us right at the top on the Coal Ash and Hydrilla dilemmas.  And the key point is, that he has worked on a multitude of issues and problems with solutions that we all don’t even know about.  That’s just Gene Addesso,” commented ally and Lead Public Affairs Frank Timberlake of Kerr Lake Park Watch.

“We know what a tremendous leadership position that Gene has crafted that president’s job into and we know that RRBA knows how important that role is now and we look forward to seeing the RRBA put in another dynamic leader,” added Timberlake.  “For now, we want to wish Gene some peace and enjoyment.  He deserves it for a job well done.”

### End

 

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