Residents use final days before stay-home order
Even as blustery winds blew Saturday and all weekend, residents were using their last days of freedom to enjoy getting out before a stay-home order by Gov. Laura Kelly kicked in.
“I’ve been casting an hour every day just for something to do,” Marion County Lake resident Andy Fanter said. “I have a boat, but you don’t take the boat out when it’s this windy.”
Across Marion County, people could be found golfing, fishing, playing tennis, or biking and walking.
Hillsboro Municipal Golf Course would close its doors Monday, so taking advantage of the last day on Sunday was significant for Chad Hughbanks and father Steve.
“There’s more meaning to it today,” Chad said. “The weather’s nice and it is the last time. We’re trying to get one more round in before it gets taken away.”
Lake superintendent Isaac Hett was driving around over the weekend to make sure people maintained proper social distancing. Hett said he saw people doing more than fishing, walking their dogs around the lake, or small groups of high -schoolers playing catch.
Fanter has seen more people at the lake in the past couple weeks than in recent years.
“Compared to the last few years, the number of people out fishing and biking around is more now than ever because they’ve got time,” he said.
Being able to go the lake is important because it gets people out of the house, especially when they have limited options, Fanter said.
“It’s breaking up the routine,” he said.
However, residents should remember the county lake isn’t their only resource, Hett said.
“It’s a good thing, but if the lake closes up, people can still go walking or go fishing down at the river, or find other ways to stay busy outside,” he said. “This just might have to be postponed for a while.”
The Hughbankses said they saw more golfers than usual Sunday at Hillsboro as well, participating in the course’s last day before closing.
Hett said there was a push by Marion County Health Department to take further health precautions following Kelly’s stay-home order. Closing the county lake was one option discussed, though no decision was made as of publication time.
“I hated to see all this happening now,” he said. “If it happened back in December or January, in the winter when people don’t want to be outside, it’d be a lot easier. Right now when it’s finally started to warm up, this is the time when people want to come outside and do things.”
Another option discussed was keeping the lake open exclusively to county residents, Hett said.
“I know when you’re fishing you want to go up to other fishermen and ask how they’ve been doing, but we have people coming out to the lake from all over the state,” he said. “With that, it’s just more added concern because you don’t know where the people are coming from.”
While closing the lake isn’t ideal, Hett said it’s preferable to putting people’s health at risk.
“That’s more important than coming out and fishing,” he said. “If we can do something that leaves the lake open so some people can get benefit from it, I’m all for that.”
Even with restrictions people will find ways to keep busy, Chad said.
“There are always things to do around the house,” he said. “I can work from home because I have that luxury. It’s being able to spend time with my wife and kid at home.”