The Wiggins Lake Property Owners Association hosted an open house at the Chappel Dam on Saturday, August 14 to celebrate the completion of the dam upgrade and repair project after last year’s devastating floods. At the open house, the community had the opportunity to see the lake from the walkway above the spillway, which provides a completely different perspective both of the lake itself and the river downstream.
The project included replacement of the computer system which controls the dam, raising the south embankment by 2.5 feet, repairs to and automation of the tainter gate, resurfacing the horizontal portions of the spillway, significant concrete work on the tail races, structural steel replacement, repairs to a crack in the joint between the powerhouse and the south embankment and pouring over 90 tons of concrete to reinforce the original stop logs placed under the dam, which were significantly damaged in the storm. The project cost about $950,000 and was paid for by a special assessment to the lakes, roughly 550 parcels.
The Wiggins Lake Authority, which operates the dam on behalf of its owner, Gladwin County, performed the repairs and has also created an operations and maintenance manual, inspection schedules and an emergency action plan. Members of the Authority board are lake residents, Mike Rajt, Chair and Rick Dvorak; Terry Walters, Drain Commissioner; Ron Taylor, County Commissioner; and Renee Zelt, Sage Township Supervisor.
Day to day work on the dam including scheduled inspections and maintenance is performed by a group of lake residents who have been trained to operate the dam. These individuals include Mike Rajt, Rick Dvorak, Tom Stack, Mike Hermann, Mike Bailey, Chet Taraskevich, Eric Smith, Ernie Seebeck and Mark Fedewa. Each of them has remote access to the dam computers and security cameras and, in the event of any anomaly found by the computer, each of them gets an automatic text message from the dam.
Speakers at the event stressed the spirit of cooperation, teamwork and community involvement which made the project possible. County Commission Chair, Karen Moore told the crowd she is from Wixom Lake and the successful completion of the Wiggins Lake Project was an example of the resiliency of the people of Gladwin County.