In Apr. 10-16 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
WOLF CREEK - A new name and a new location is one large step closer to becoming a reality as the office and restaurant from Alligator 1 was pushed slowly past Alligator II enroute to its new home at Cave Springs Marina in Jabez last Saturday.
Dock owner Ed Slusser purchased the marina and resort from Yvonne Popplewell almost a year before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a new lower lake level during repairs to Wolf Creek Dam.
Slusser said the lake level last year was too low to allow him to operate at the marina's location, and he received permission from the Corps to relocate the docks to the end of Island Camp Road in Jabez.
The new location is still on Wolf Creek, but near the junction with the main lake. It is in much deeper year-around water.
The original marina, then known as Popplewell's Alligator Dock, was the second on the lake, and the first in Russell County. It is also credited as being the first marina anywhere to begin a houseboat rental program.
(The first marina on the lake was Grider Hill Dock in neighboring Clinton County. It is located on the Indian Creek section of the lake, and is only a few hundred feet from the Russell-Clinton county line.)
James Flatt, the manager of Alligator II Marina, said the neighboring marina's parts floated past their slips this weekend, and some of that dock's customers are looking to stop off at his operation rather than relocating to Jabez.
"People own homes here and they don't want to drive all of the way there to get to their boat," Flatt said. "I've had about 50 requests for covered slips from people who had been keeping their boats there."
He said he would like to add to their covered slips to handle the demand, but with the uncertainty caused first by the lower lake level and then exacerbated this year by high gas prices he said they are in more of a "survival mode."
Flatt said their bookings are better this year than less but are still 5 percent of what they were in 2005 or 2006.
He lays much of that at the feet of the economy and the cost of gas. "If people can't make their house payment they aren't going to be coming down here for a vacation," Flatt explained.
He added that projections for gas to be over $4.20 per gallon on Memorial Day weekend could put gas at the docks over $5 per gallon.
He said given that price people aren't as likely to go riding up and down the lake in the big boats.
"Instead of coming down ever weekend they may be coming down once a month," Flatt suggested.
In the way of overcoming the perception that the lake isn't a good place to go because of the lowered lake level, Flatt added that the dock owners association is planning television advertising in the areas that normally tourists to Lake Cumberland come from.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
404 Monument Square
Jamestown KY 42629