Bald Knob officials are exploring having a fishing pier and boat ramp built at Bald Knob Lake.
Bald Knob Chamber of Commerce President Janet Hearyman said she has been noticing a need for the fishing pier, especially for the elderly and those with limited mobility. She said she would drive out and notice elderly residents trying to fish, but there was nowhere for them to sit close enough.
“It just stayed on my mind a long time and I said to myself, ‘We can do better with this,’” Hearyman said.
Hearyman, her husband, Councilman Alvin Hearyman, Councilman David Smith, Mayor Barth Grayson and White County Judge Michael Lincoln gathered at Bald Knob Lake this week to meet with representatives from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to get some information on having a pier built for the 30-foot lake.
Tom Bly, a fisheries district supervisor for AGFC, said fishing piers have gotten expensive, ranging from $50,000 to $70,000, but a city could get moved up on the list for getting one built if it works together with the county.
“It’s a great little lake,” Bly said, referring to Bald Knob Lake. “We are here to benefit the anglers.”
Bly said projects where cities assist, such as the fishing piers, get noticed if they can help out with things like labor. The AGFC could write a recommendation that this would be a good project, he said, because there aren’t a lot of fishing opportunities in this area.
The motor fuel tax judge budget is something Bly discussed and said a possible pier could be put into the next budget.
Grayson asked if the pier would be made of wood or metal. Bly said, “More than likely wood.” Grayson said the city has a drain at Bald Knob Lake and could lower the level of the lake, put the pier in and fill the lake back up.
Grayson also asked if bathrooms would be included in a pier project. Bly said, “No, we are not in the bathroom business” and the AGFC has done away with trash cans. Bly said the commission encourages visitors to take their trash home with them. He said the AGFC also would not provide maintenance for the pier.
Grayson also mentioned that the city would like to separate the boat launch from the swimming area.
Kirk Keller of the AGFC said he would write up an estimated cost for a boat ramp and fishing pier for Bald Knob Lake. And Bly said he will write his assistant chief and send him a Google Earth image of the lake and site and the proposal, highlighting where the road coming into the lake is and where the ramp would be.
Bly said the lake had a pretty good parking lot but has some issues that need to be addressed and a culvert nearby that needs replacing. He said it also would be good if the city of Bald Knob and White County could write letters showing support of the project.
“It primarily falls on the county and the city,” Bly said. Vital pieces of the puzzle for a project like this for Lake Bald Knob, he said, is the buy-in from the people committed to seeing it through.
Bly said he would commit to letting it be known how important fishing is to the those in the area. “A lot of people would benefit from it, the elderly and people with limited mobility.”
For the past several years, Bly said, the amount of fishing licenses sold has been dropping steadily but now they are skyrocketing.
“Our fishing license sales determine what kind of money we get back from the feds,” Bly said. “It’s a beautiful lake, I think it would be a good thing for the area.
Janet Hearyman saiid a lot of residents don’t have the money to travel and the fishing pier would mean a lot for them. Bly added for a lot of these people, it is the only outdoor activity that they get.
“As they get older, they don’t want to drive 40 or 50 miles to go fish,” Janet Hearyman said. “One time we were down here and I heard a lady say, ‘I sure hope we catch some fish so we have have something for supper.’”