Sheriff’s office to get new Silver Lake boat.

August 27, 2020

This boat is similar to the new boat the sheriff’s office will acquire next spring.
– Contributed photo

Sheriff’s office to get new Silver Lake boat.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — The Oceana County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Thursday, Aug. 27, for the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office to apply for a grant to purchase a new 23-foot aluminum boat for patrols and emergencies on Silver Lake for approximately $200,000.

The sheriff’s office will apply for a grant of $50,000-$61,000 from the USDA, which Deputy Tim Simon — who oversees the marine division — said has already provided verbal approval. The rest of the $150,000 funds have been received through donations from local businesses, community members and organizations.

Deputy Simon

The current 16-foot Zodiak boat that covers Silver Lake is 15 years old and has reached its life expectancy, said Simon. “Its life expectancy has come and gone,” said Sheriff Craig Mast. It has over 3,000 patrol hours.

Silver Lake is the busiest lake in Oceana County, so it is imperative to have a quality craft not only for emergencies but also patrols. “Silver Lake has more drownings than any of our other lakes,” Sheriff Mast said.

Pentwater Lake is another busy inland lake in Oceana County, and the sheriff’s office has a boat dedicated to those waters.

The current boat dedicated to Silver Lake has to be trailered there, whereas the new boat will be docked at Silver Lake during the summer months. The price tag includes the cost of the lift, two-engine motor and trailer. Having the boat docked at the lake will improve response time for water emergencies.

The boat’s larger size will also improve response time and efficiency, said Simon. The current vessel doesn’t provide enough room for divers, their equipment and the victim or victims. The new boat will be better equipped for towing disabled boats, too.

“We get 20-30 disabled boat calls per summer on Silver Lake,” the deputy said.

Diving, search/rescue and recovery operations will be greatly enhanced. The new boat will have a side scan sonar, which is a first for Oceana County. A side door allows divers to deploy into the waters, and it is easier to pull victims from the lake.

Daily patrol operations will be handled with greater ease, too. The boat can be trailered to Lake Michigan and other inland lakes.

“It’s more self-sufficient,” said Simon. Often during emergencies with the current boat, law enforcement needs citizens’ assistance.

The all-aluminum design of the new boat will require fewer repairs than its soon-to-be predecessor. “Fiberglass just doesn’t do the job.”

“I’m so excited that the community has surrounded us with support,” said Deputy Simon.

The new boat is expected to be added to the sheriff’s office by spring of 2021.

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