57 citations issued at Branched Oak, Pawnee Lakes

By: Hannah Paczkowski

On a sunny day, Kasi Darnell said it’s the perfect time to take her three boys to the lake, especially when there’s barely anyone else around.

“I’m assured that we’re making a good decision in avoiding coming out here when its really busy,” she said.

For instance, Memorial Day weekend, thousands of people camping and partying at area lakes. Take Branched Oak for example, about 700 people were drinking at Area 14.

Now, deputies and Game and Parks are cracking down on the crowds.57 citations were given out between Pawnee and Branched Oak Lakes. Sheriff Terry Wagner said that’s pretty unusual.

“I think in the past we’ve had projects like these, 13, 15, 18 maybe, I don’t remember it being over 20 citations,” Wagner said.

This is all part of a special enforcement project to limit the amount of problems at area lakes. Here’s how the 57 tickets break down, deputies issued 31 of them for no parking passes, drugs, a warrant and driving violations. Game and Parks gave out 26 citations. Several were for boating violations and synthetic marijuana.

Authorities are looking into possible solutions. For instance, regulating alcohol bans for more areas, rather than just the beach at Branched Oak Lake, but that’s only one idea out of several others.

“These aren’t people that are out there who are campers having a beer by their camp. This is not the crowd we’re worried about,” Wagner said.

Kasi said she tries to stay away from the big lake parties.

“We just don’t want to deal with that. We have a family and we don’t need that kind of stuff around,” she said.