Hope floats: Lake businesses improving: wdtn.com

Just as the waves of water gently lap against the banks of Grand Lake St. Marys, so to are the waves of people slowly returning to the shore.

"We’re getting more folks back," says Donna Grube, Executive Director of the Auglaize-Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "But we’d like to get the word out to come to Grand Lake St. Marys and enjoy yourself this summer."

The people can’t arrive soon enough for some.

Many businesses struggled and some even closed because of the toxic algae that kept people away last year. In fact the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau says its lodging revenue dropped 22 percent.

But a big crowd is expected this Independence Day at places like the Outdoorsman.

"The traffic just this weekend has been great," says Brenda Manning, owner of the Outdoorsman. "Hopefully it’ll keep building from here and we can get it back to how it was."

One big help is that the state campground is expected to be full. That’s thanks in part to people like Dave Gossard, who decided to come back after staying away because of the lake’s algae issues.

"I’ve been driving by and looking at it and it looks quite improved from last year," Gossard says. "It doesn’t have that terrible odor from last year, so maybe they’re making progress."

But until many are willing to check it out for themselves, there will be worries about the water.

"Some folks are concerned and fearful and ask a lot of questions," Grube says. "Some come and say the water looks terrific, what was the big deal about."

You’re allowed to fish and boat in the lake, but you’re advised against swimming in it.