Writers open up fishing hole for veterans
With Memorial Day weekend just ahead, here’s a little tale about remembering those who need to be specially remembered, our disabled veterans, the way we outdoors folks would do – by taking them fishin’.
It was last Saturday at Meander Creek Reservoir in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, way up northeast where I-80 and I-76 (the Ohio Turnpike) make their “Youngstown split.” It was the inaugural Veterans Fishing Day, initiated by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio with a lot of help from several veterans themselves, some staff members of District 3 of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, and the staff of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, which runs Meander.
A host of local businesses also chipped in without hesitation, supplying everything from lodging to lunch and so much in between, from bait to an event tent. They know who they are and they should be quietly proud, just like the vets who served us all without fanfare and complaint. No one was in this for themselves.
If you’ve ever run the Turnpike or I-80 east into Pennsylvania, you have driven over Meander. It’s that big, winding, inviting lake just before the Pennsylvania line. Built with an earthen dam in 1926, the wandering waters cover some 2,600 acres in a 6,000 acre nature preserve, which, for the most part and for security-of-water-supply, stays closed to public access. That is because its main purpose is to supply drinking water to nearly 250,000 residents of the communities of Niles, Youngtown, and McDonald and surrounding area.
But Mike Mainhart, a board member of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio from up Youngstown way, convinced the Meander powers-that-be to open a limited area – one with wheelchair accessibility – to a fishing day honoring vets. “This is the first time,” agreed Ralph Miller, chief of security.
The bottom line in this fishing tale was spoken to me – the unofficial water boy who toted bottled ice water to participants during the day – by several fishing vets: “You guys going to do this again next year?”
That was a question about my pay-grade. But needless to say, a good time was had by all. You want to see some fine video of the day? Google-up “You Tube Meander OWO Fishing.” There are two videos to click on, next to Dorothy Mainhart’s name. The images speak for themselves. It was a good day.