Fort Scott Police step up lake patrols

Lake Fort Scott looks pretty peaceful post-Labor Day, but it was the place to be this summer, and that got local residents worried.

“The lake citizens, they were very concerned more about safety on the water. Some of rules of the lake itself (weren’t being followed.) Maybe some jet boats, some wake boats in a no wake zone,” said Robert Uhler, Fort Scott’s community development director.

Residents were concerned the influx of summer visitors and their accompanying speed boats and jet skis would result in somebody getting injured. The city responded by ordering new buoys and safety signage, but they didn’t stop there.

“We’ve actually increased our lake patrol presence on the lake. Tom is on the lake between 11 and 4 now a lot more times and he’s more active around the lake also, so he’s more available to the residents out there also,” said Uhler.

The aforementioned Tom is Thomas Graham, the sole member of the Fort Scott Police Department’s Lake Patrol. He’s been living on the lake since the 80s, but Lake Fort Scott isn’t the only one he patrols.

“You can only be at one place at a time. And I actually do 6 different lakes here in Bourbon County. If I’m gone, I can’t protect this lake but I want to make sure that I’m doing the job on the other lakes also,” said Officer Graham.

Tom says the vast majority people breaking speed limits on the lake aren’t aware of the rules, and have been cooperative when he gives them a warning. He thinks the incoming signs will also help with the problem, but says adding another member to Lake Patrol could help even more.

And assistance could be on the way. A lake advisory board made up of lake residents and city and county officials is being formed to help keep local officials in tune with lake issues.

“The city commission passed the ordinance last Tuesday, so we’ll be forming it. We’re taking applications now to serve on the Lake Advisory Board. Within 30 days, we should have our first meeting, our kickoff,” said Uhler.