Perdue launches mega-ramps

Published 7:12 pm Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue expressed his excitement Wednesday afternoon at seeing the first boat ready to launch from the new mega-ramps installed at Bainbridge’s Earle May Boat Basin, just in time for a series of big fishing tournaments.

Perdue, who was joined by Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Clark and other state and local government officials for the mega-ramps’ ribbon cutting ceremony, had lots of nice things to say about the project, which was a joint project between Georgia DNR and the City of Bainbridge. It is Gov. Perdue’s Go Fish initiative, which he created several years ago, that is coming to fruition in Bainbridge, one of 10 sites statewide targeted for the fishing-based economic development and tourism program the mega-ramps are a part of.

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Perdue said the new multi-lane boat ramps and associated amenities will give Bainbridge and Decatur County an even better opportunity to showcase the natural beauty of the Flint River and Lake Seminole to fishers from all over the United States. While the river and lake offer beautiful water and good fishing, it will be local citizens’ “great Southern hospitality” that visiting anglers will remember and spread the word about.

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“[The mega-ramps are] a gift that keeps on giving,” Perdue said. “With three major tournaments lined up in October, this is kind of like the Super Bowl for Bainbridge and Decatur County. People who fish here will keep coming back.”

Perdue said Bainbridge’s mega-ramps have all the attributes he envisioned in the Go Fish program. In addition to economic development and tourism, the mega-ramps can be used by recreational boaters from the surrounding area for enjoyment of the water and nature. He called fishing a “healthy and wholesome” family activity, in addition to being a good booster of the local economy.

At the close of the ceremony, Bainbridge Public Works Director Tommy King launched the first motor boat from the new mega-ramps, which feature three double-laned ramps. Each ramp lane is 14 feet wide by 95 feet long.

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Adjacent to the ramps will be 700 feet of floating dock that is currently being put into the water. There is a landscaped parking lot with room for 225 trucks and trailers. A 1,000-square-foot restroom facility will be available for boaters and the ramps are well-lit to accommodate safe boat launching and return around the clock, Mayor Edward Reynolds said. In addition, the entire facility, which sits on approximately 11 acres, complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mayor Reynolds thanked all the city’s employees and the contractors who worked on the project for their help. The state government contributed about $500,000 to the mega-ramps’ construction, with a matching half-million put in by the City of Bainbridge, funded by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax receipts.

DNR Commissioner Clark thanked the team of local officials and DNR officials who worked on the mega-ramps’ design together. Clark also thanked City Manager Chris Hobby for his role in shaping the project.

City of Bainbridge Public Works employees poured the concrete ramps, constructed the bathroom and paved the parking lot and a new road around the ramps. Others who worked on the project were Stuckey Concrete of Calvary, Ga., Eddie Brinson Concrete of Bainbridge and Georgia Power. In addition, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials worked on extending Bainbridge’s lease of the Boat Basin to ensure the mega-ramps will have a long usage life, Clark said.

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Reynolds also pointed out local fishing legend Jack Wingate, who is often credited with popularizing fishing on Lake Seminole, which was created by the construction of the Jim Woodruff Dam in the late 1950s.

Wingate, who was present for the ceremony and briefly met with Perdue, “knew a good fishing hole when he saw it,” Reynolds said.