In July 10-16 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
It was a good weekend in a not-so-good summer.
That is the consensus of at least three of the marina operators in the county.
James Flatt, manager of Indian Creek Alligator 2 Marina, said the recent holiday and memorial day were both very busy on the lake, but it is the other weekends and especially the weeks that have been not-so-good.
"We had a good Memorial (Day weekend) and then nothing until the 4th of July," Flatt said. "We had a really big Fourth. If the lake had been up, I don't know where we'd have parked em all."
But he said for the rest of this season, so far the traffic on the lake is low and people are watching what they spend, though it isn't as bad as it could be.
"Cabin reservations look good the rest of the summer," Flatt added.
Bill Jasper, president of State Dock, said "This 4th of July was better than any before the lake was lowered."
He said the marina's income has been up this year because of additional slips, and the boat owners that have leased them to capacity.
"We were a little down in (sales of) fuel and the ship's store compared to '07," Jasper said. "But overall up a lot because added a lot of slips. Last weekend was up about 20 percent over last year. The holidays are just huge."
He said gas sales and a slowdown in the purchases at the marina, along with a reduction in the number of people visiting during the week and most weekends, are likely related to the cost of getting to the lake.
"When they have an extra day off they are coming in force for three or four-day weekends," He added.
The stories he is hearing on the dock are that boaters aren't driving up and down the lake as much as they used to.
John Meincken, the CFO at Jamestown Resort and Marina reported that income has been pretty good but not that great so far this year.
"Memorial Weekend was pretty good and of course the 4th of July was very good," he said.
Mid-week usage at the resort and at the marina is slow, but the weekends have been acceptable.
"Houseboat rentals are still down from last year's levels," Meincken said. "We'll be down in July and flat in August. I think we'd be better than last year if not for the gas prices. Fuel taking up all their money."
But he added this is something of a curiosity, since the actual percentage of the vacation dollar spent on gasoline isn't that much higher but people feel the pinch more as the price at the pump continues to climb.
Flatt said he is seeing the same sort of thing.
"It's a lot better than it was last year but the one thing you notice is that people are limiting how much gas they are buying," Flatt said. "They go to a cove and swim instead of riding up and down the lake all day. I've overheard parents telling their kids they were limited to a tank-a-day for the jet-skis. When they used to fill up 3 or 4 tanks a day."
But he said they have a harder time justifying that money and the trip to the lake for a short weekend when a lot of his customers are spending $200 in gas money for a trip to the lake and back.
Jasper said his boat rental numbers are only comparable to last year, rather than making the rebound they were hoping for this summer. Numbers were down last summer, attributed to the widespread negative publicity about the lowered lake level for remedial construction work on Wolf Creek Dam.
"That's a combination of fuel prices and the economy," Jasper said. "But we're not getting the questions like we used to. We used to spend all day trying to convince people there is water in the lake. That perception is still out to a small degree but that was all we got last year."
He added that the response they're getting from customers after their time on the lake is very positive.
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.
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Jamestown KY 42629