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LAKE WYLIE --
The Lake Wylie Marine Commission has a new chairman, but its a familiar face within the group.
Last week, the three-county group elected Terry Everhart to its top position, replacing Smith Smitty Hanks. Everhart began serving on the commission in 2008 but attended meetings for years prior as an office with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Departments lake enforcement unit.
Everhart was pleased with the decision, and said that faces wont be the only things familiar to the group during the leadership change.
I consider the commissions goals and focus projects to be on target, he said. To attempt to shift from any of them would be a mistake.
Improving public safety, eradicating invasive species, promoting clean waters and recognizing community partners in those tasks need to continue, Everhart said.
One of the things I would like to see is for there to be much more community involvement buy in with Lake Wylie, he said. We truly have a unique resource that needs to be promoted, enjoyed and protected by everyone.
Hanks still has a year left on the commission. Group bylaws allow for officers to serve just two years, unless they receive a unanimous vote to remain in their positions. Hanks was chairman for three years before stepping down. The move allows Everhart, the vice chairman before last week, to take the top spot with Brad Thomas as the new vice chairman. Ron Wanless remains as secretary-treasurer.
The move also keeps one officer from each of the three counties surrounding the lake, with both Hanks and Thomas representing Gaston County.
While roles shifted last week, the main focus points for the commission didnt. The group still works on a variety of public safety, recreation, environmental and law enforcement initiatives along the lake. The group still spent time and resources on one of its biggest annual projects Riversweep as it approaches on Saturday.
Lake Wylie Riversweep is the most successful lake clean-up that I am aware of, Hanks said. Over the years it has grown from a small group of people to nearly 1,000 volunteers last year. This has resulted in Lake Wylie being the cleanest it has been in my lifetime.
Group representatives will be on hand Saturday helping with registration, passing out shirts and caps, promoting a recycling program and working with boat captains to get volunteers in hard-to-reach areas.
There is still a lot of work to do, Hanks said, and this year we have made some changes to try to address these new challenges.
Everhart hopes that events like Riversweep or the July 4 fireworks display each year can be opportunities to partner with the community.
Trust and cooperation go a long way, he said. For years the same people or businesses have been the supporters and the go-to contacts when there is a need. This needs to be expanded.
Everhart wants to see more people taking ownership in issues on the water, but not at the expense of the bi-state, tri-county commission doing its part, too.
As good stewards we need to pay attention and take care of the lake for everyone the best we can, he said.