Lake Naconiche has a long history - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Lake Naconiche has a long history

By Donna McCollum

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Lake Naconiche is a brainstorm of the 50's, when reservoirs were dug at the drop of a hat. In 1976, Nacogdoches County commissioners sold $500,000 in bonds to start buying the land for flood control. Project director, George Perry Campbell jokes Naconiche has made him long in the tooth.  

"I am personally disappointed because it has gotten slow," he said back in the 80's. Campbell has said that over and over again for the last couple of decades. He knows the history better than anyone. In the 80's he was back and forth to Austin meeting before state agencies over environmental lawsuits filed for the protection of wetlands. Today Campbell recalled, "They had to go back to square one if you will and go through a long lengthy process."

The delays stirred the emotions of concerned taxpayers. Each day without a lake, cost more dollars. "Why you go to that expense spending taxpayers money on a little old lake like that?,"  they would ask.

The project persevered. Crudely handrawn maps were replaced by computerized images. Die hard government leaders changed with the times and refused to let the project go. County Commissioner Tom Bush said in 2003, "Sure it's going to happen. It's going to. There's been too much money spent on it to this point, sure it's going to happen." Former county judge Ocie Westmoreland agreed, "I never did ever think it wasn't going to happen."

By 2004 heavy equipment moved in. Two years later the dam was built. And this year, George Campbell got to turn the valve. Campbell knows every date and measurement on the lake. He isn't stopping now. "We actually closed the gates on Naconiche at 3:02 p. m. on October the sixth. And as of Friday we got about 90 acres of water captured and that's without significant rainfall," he said like a proud father.  

Tomorrow dignitaries will walk the Naconiche pier in celebration for a project many said would never happen.  No matter how you feel about the lake, pro or con, tomorrow will be a memorable day.   Everyone is welcome to come to tomorrow's dedication. It will begin at ten o'clock in the morning, but guests are advised to arrive early. The sight is off hiway 59 on farm to market road 24-35, a highway built especially for the lake. There will be a centralized parking area. Buses will take you into the park site.

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