Plaque at Mantle Lake Park honors contributors

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
17 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Restoration efforts at Mantle Lake Park paid off as dozens of families gathered at the lake on Saturday, June 2, to take part in the annual Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs Fishing Derby. But while most at the park had their minds on fishing, a smaller group were gathered for a dedication ceremony honoring those who took it upon themselves to bring the lake back to usable condition.

To mark the occasion, an unveiling ceremony was held lakeside, with a number of local officials in attendance.
“The purpose of the unveiling of this bronze plaque is to recognize and thank the numerous contributors that made the restoration of Mantle Lake possible,” said Walt Elish, Presque Isle City Council chairperson.
Elish said the derby held Saturday morning was a, “testament to the success of not only this project but the value of Mantle Lake as an asset to the region and the community commitment to its youth.”
Prior to the unveiling, Elish recognized one individual whose experience contributed greatly to the restoration project.
“Before we unveil the plaque, I want to make special recognition of an individual who, without his expertise, commitment, perseverance and just plain old hard work this project would not have been possible,” said Elish.
With that, the group offered a round of applause for George Howe, development specialist for the city of Presque Isle.
“A lot of work went into dredging the lake and bringing it back to usable condition. But seeing everyone enjoying themselves on Saturday made all that effort worthwhile,” said Howe.
Elish acknowledged more work is yet to be done at the park.
“The work is not done yet. George and others are working on establishing a trail system to expand the enjoyment of the park and its adjoining property,” said Elish.
Elish also recognized and thanked Gerry James, director of public works for the city, and his department for finding the stone on which the plaque is mounted.
“I’d also like to thank 27 Sign Place where the plaque was obtained,” said Elish.
As those in attendance looked on, City Councilors Don Gardner and Ron McPherson stepped forward to remove the cloth from the stone and plaque.
Elish, on behalf of the City Council and residents of Presque Isle, recognized and thanked the following contributors whose names appear on the plaque:
• Mark E. & Emily Turner Foundation, whose generous contribution allowed for the dredging of the lake to be accomplished;
• Presque Isle Sewer District;
• Presque Isle Rotary Club – especially for making this a special Rotary Auction proceeds project;
• Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund;
• Wright Pierce Engineering;
• M.J. Ouellette and Daughters;
• Daigle Oil Company;
• B.R. Smith Associates, Inc.;
• Presque Isle Fish and Game Club;
• Central Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District;
• Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife;
• Presque Isle Elks Lodge;
• Presque Isle High School students;
• Phillip Freeman Memorial Fund;
• Smith Farm’s Inc.;
• Cavendish Farms; and
• David and Debra Jones.
Curtis Lewin, director of the Hooked on Fishing program and president of the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club, was pleased with the turnout for the derby and the dedication ceremony.
“It was a wonderful turnout. I couldn’t ask for a better day. We gave out all the extra poles we had available. Everyone seemed to have so much fun,” said Lewin.
McPherson and Gardner reflected on their youth and memories of the lake compared to Saturday’s turnout.
“Don and I spent our fair share of time here. We’ve got a lot of great memories here, traveling the trails,” said McPherson.
“It’s been a long time since I remember seeing this many people enjoying the park at one time. This is incredible,” said Gardner.
The dredging of the lake was just the beginning. Plans are under way to clean up the trails around the lake, according to Howe, with other projects planned along the way. Local organizations are already stepping forward to adopt picnic tables and other areas.
“Every structure is being adopted – the bathhouse, picnic areas – for refurbishing. All the picnic sites will look alike, keeping with uniformity,” said Nick Archer, regional director of the Presque Isle DEP office and member of the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club. “It (work) won’t be a problem. We already have people waiting to begin the work.”
Individuals taking part in the ceremony included: Elish; Howe; Lewin; McPherson; Gardner; Archer; City Manager Tom Stevens; Emily Smith, Smith Farms; Joe Clukey, Presque Isle Rotary Club; Sally Lewin, Hooked  on Fishing; Ray Hews, Mark E. & Emily Turner Memorial Fund; Dave Baisley, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Charlie Beck, Presque Isle Fish and Game Club; Leo Freeman; City Councilor Calvin Hall; and Attorney Frank Bemis.
City Manager Tom Stevens was enthusiastic about the park’s future.
“If Saturday was any example, the park will be busy for weeks to come as families gather to enjoy good weather, have a picnic and have fun. This is what community is about – working together to provide a safe environment for all. Mantle Lake Park isn’t just for residents of Presque Isle. It’s designed to be used by anyone – whether they’re a citizen, from a neighboring community or just visiting. It’s up to us to take care of it (the park) to make sure it remains a community attraction,” said Stevens.