Quieting down after busy summer

LAKE COUNTY — From the large amounts of traffic on the highways during the weekend to long lines at gas stations and full bars and restaurants, business owners and community leaders agree it was a successful summer in Lake County.

As a tourist and recreational area, summer is the busiest time of the year in Lake County with visitors and seasonal residents, but with hunting, fishing and trail riding throughout the year, people year-round visit, said Lee Ann Russell, president of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce.

"It has been a good summer," she said. "People are now closing up cottages and leaving after the marvelous Labor Day weekend. Overall, there were lots of visitors in the area. It makes a difference in the local economy. Gas stations, restaurants, motels and businesses downtown benefit. Labor Day weekend went out with a bang. I live south of town, and while driving to work downtown, I saw motels and campgrounds were full. There will still be people fishing and hunting throughout the fall, and hopefully it will be a good winter so people can snowmobile and cross country ski."

Chris Trucks, member of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and owner of Gramma's Treats, said every weekend throughout the summer was great, and Labor Day weekend was especially busy downtown and throughout the county.

"On Sunday of Labor Day weekend I counted 183 cars going south on M-37 from Wesco in Baldwin to the Meat Shack near Bitely. This didn't include cars on side roads waiting to pull out," she said. "Overall, I think businesses were up from last season."

Gas stations such as Chase Express received a lot of business from people entering the east part of the county on U.S. 10.

"We had a lot of campers and trail riders stop here all summer," said Karie Robinson, an employee at Chase Express. "Friday of Labor Day was the busiest I have ever seen it. After the holiday weekend, we began seeing things slow down a little more."

Sheryl George, who owns Northern Exposures south of Baldwin, said they have been really busy all summer.

"Almost every weekend the place has been packed and this has been wonderful," she said. "We try to squeeze in customers where we can by teaming up people at tables — some people make new friends. During Labor Day weekend we had more customers than during Blessing of the Bikes. I was shocked with the turnout."

Sheriff Rich Martin said commerce was up this summer in Lake County.

"Business owners I spoke with have seen an increase in business during the summer," he said. "With the influx of visitors, we have received more complaints of off-road vehicles tearing up roads and driving where they shouldn't. It seems the more years progress, the less respect there is for people's property and following the rules. We do try to give trail riders a break by issuing citations if they commit two or more violations, and we try to write for the lesser of the violations."