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New Tuscarora Lake dedicated near Martinsburg

November 22, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The 5-acre Tuscarora Lake, the centerpiece of the new Poor House Farm Park west of Martinsburg, was dedicated Monday.

"This is going to be the future of recreation in Berkeley County," Berkeley County Commissioners President D. Wayne Dunham said.

As more people move into the fast-growing county, they will need places like Poor House Farm Park to get away and enjoy themselves, he said.

Construction on Tuscarora Lake began in the fall of 1997 and was completed in January 1999 when it was filled.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stocked the lake with large mouth bass, blue gill and channel catfish earlier this year, Steve Catlett, executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board, said.

The DNR will stock the lake with trout in February, he said.

Catlett said he hopes to have paddle boats at the lake next year, but swimming will not be permitted. While the water quality is good, the lake contains a lot of rocks, which could catch swimmers' feet.

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The lake has two water sources, Tuscarora Creek and a spring on its west side, Catlett said. Park officials plan to tap a third source as well, the old spring house on the farm.

A pavilion has been built and a youth football field constructed using dirt dug up to create the lake. The137-acre park has six miles of walking trails.

The preservation of the farm complex at the park is an educational attraction for families and school children, Dunham said.

Catlett said there are plans to add more features to the park, including an amphitheater, an equestrian trail and more pavilions. An arching bridge will be built to an island in the lake and a gazebo will be built on the island.

At Monday's dedication, Catlett spent about an hour thanking everyone involved in making Tuscarora Lake.

Because so many people volunteered their time, energy and resources to building the L-shaped lake behind the old barn, the parks board saved about $230,000, Catlett said.

The project cost $70,000 but could easily have cost more than $300,000, Catlett said.

Two big contributors to the creation of the lake were Ray Johnston and his late brother Melvin "Monty" Johnston, Catlett told about 20 people assembled in the barn overlooking the lake.

"Quite frankly, there'd be no lake today without Monty Johnston," Catlett told the crowd, which included Monty's family.

Johnston donated his expertise in engineering, operated heavy equipment and personally supervised the construction of the lake, Catlett said. He died in a construction accident about a week after he finished his part of the work.

Johnston, a longtime real estate developer, was one of four principal partners in the 800-acre, 500-lot Sleepy Hollow subdivision on Mountain Lake Road next to The Woods Resort, according to Ray Johnston, owner of the resort.

A plaque for the lake's dedication notes Johnston's contribution.

Ray Johnston donated the use of his equipment, Catlett said.

Countless others pitched in their time and effort, Catlett said.

"A lot of times I think we stretched a dollar, as most people would," Catlett said.

Dunham said the progress that has been made by the parks board has been "unbelievable."

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