From the Daily Standard‘s Nancy Allen:
The Lake Restoration Commission (LRC) may change its makeup, but the group’s goal of a cleaner Grand Lake will remain the same.
Exploratory discussions are under way to decide if the LRC, which has raised about $550,000 for technology and scientific consultation to help restore the lake, should become a legally-organized entity. This would give the group more opportunities for government funding.
Formed in late January, the LRC is a volunteer coalition of individuals from government entities and private organizations from Mercer and Auglaize counties. Its members represent economic development, watershed, farming, tourism and state park interests. It was formed to address the toxic blue-green algae blooms that nearly shut down the 13,500-acre lake this summer.
"Currently, we are an ad hoc, all-volunteer group," said Jared Ebbing, Mercer County’s economic development director and a LRC member. "We feel we have hit the next phase in development and it is more than worthwhile to start looking into something more official and how we take that next step."
The LRC is functional, but has limitations because it is not a legally organized group, Ebbing said. If it becomes one, it would be able to lobby the state for the region’s needs and apply for possible incentives and grants that could help the two-county area.
Milt Miller, the LRC’s fundraising chairman, noted the LRC "doesn’t exist legally on paper." Its grant funding had to be submitted through township and county offices.
Ebbing and commissioners from Auglaize and Mercer counties recently discussed hiring a firm or attorney to research and help determine the best organizational structure. No decision has been made on where the funds to pay for legal help would come.
"We need to engage with a firm who can help us, perhaps an attorney or legal view," he said. "We need some help on what’s best suited for this region."
He said the group would not be a conservancy or a port authority, but perhaps a hybrid that would use some of the same structure of both but be unique to the watershed.