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HOT SPRINGS -- Garland County officials said last week that the overburdening of the sheriff's office marine patrol makes them reluctant to request the placement of a buoy in a busy inlet of Lake Hamilton.

Property and business owners in the area known as Paradise Cove, northwest of the Arkansas 70 West bridge, began lobbying for the buoy earlier this year in an effort to make the cove a no-wake zone.

Attorney Hal Cook, who lives in the Paradise Point neighborhood on the north side of the cove, said the county has ceded its buoy-placement authority at the risk of public safety.

In support of the no-wake zone initiative, he submitted a petition to the Garland County Quorum Court's Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee that he said was signed by 112 people who live in the cove or use it for recreation.

"The last thing I would like to see is some type of incident where kids are run over, or somebody gets hurt as a result of not doing something to make that cove a no-wake zone," Cook told justices of the peace, who watched video he provided of children swimming in an area of the cove that he said fast-moving watercraft frequently use.

A 2003 buoy ordinance adopted by the Quorum Court removed the county from the permitting process, shifting authority to Entergy Arkansas Inc.

Kimberly Bogart, Entergy's lakes and property coordinator, told the committee buoys are permitted in accordance with Game and Fish Commission recommendations for limiting no-wake zones to commercial establishments, public launching ramps and public swimming areas.

Entergy's permitting authority comes from the license the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted it to use the lake for power generation.

State law does not allow the public to petition the Game and Fish Commission for the creation of speed limits or no-wake zones. Those requests have to come from law enforcement agencies, but Sheriff Mike McCormick said more buoys would create additional enforcement responsibilities for a marine patrol lacking resources and staff.

The 2003 ordinance grants the sheriff's office authority to enforce buoy regulations, including the power to remove unpermitted ones, but adding to the patrol's already expansive enforcement portfolio is problematic, McCormick told the committee.

Metro on 07/01/2018

Print Headline: Neighbors petition JPs on no-wake zone

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