Sheriff’s Office respond to multiple calls at Branched Oak

By: Hannah Paczkowski

Jackie Sterns was collecting cans at Branched Oak Lake, Memorial Day, when she saw a massive amount of people partying in Area 14.

“It was just a wave of humanity, everybody going down over the hill by the beach. I’m glad I don’t camp on Memorial Day,” Sterns said.

Deputies said they responded to 14 calls in that area over the holiday weekend, compared to just two last year during the same time. Several came from a party with close to 700 people. Deputies said many were drinking alcohol and narcotics were also being used.

“The consumption of alcohol and large number of people in that geographical locale was causing disturbances,” Chief Deputy Jeff Bliemeister said.

Beer cases, cans and bottles are overflowing from a dumpster just yards from the site.

Now, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and Game and Parks are trying to find a way to limit incidents like these in the Branched Oak area. One idea is to reclassify Area 14. Alcohol is permitted by Game and Parks, except on the beach area. Officials said they’d like to reclassify Area 14 to a beach area to restrict drinking, but that plan is not set in stone.

Now, Sterns doing her best to help the environment by cleaning up the mess the parties left behind.

“It’s a treasure trove to the aluminum can collector,” Sterns said.

Deputies said not all 700 people were causing the disturbance and no arrests were made. Game and Parks officials said they’re going to try to put together a plan in the future.