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Post Scripts: Recalling Lake Viking’s beginnings

by Joe Snyder

I wish Kathy and I could have come back for a visit this past week. To see old friends, of course, but also to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Lake Viking, a highly successful project that has proven to be a big plus for Daviess County in many ways.

It is difficult for me to realize that it’s been 40 years ago that Lake Viking became a reality. There is no longer a question (I hope) of the value of the lake to Daviess County.

Lake Viking put Daviess County "on the map" so to speak and enriched the county with new blood and new fiscal enhancement. At the same time I am well aware that its creation resulted in dislocation for a number of families whose lives were forever disrupted by having to move from their homes, plus farmland that had been in their families for generations.

I want them to know I shared their feelings and resentment but I also knew I had a responsibility to try and stimulate economic growth in a county that was going downhill in more ways than one. It was my hope the lake would stimulate economic growth in Daviess County, as well as give it a project that would attract some new and a bit more progressive residents who would favor growth and new vitality for the region.

Lake Viking, even though it has not been given the credit it deserves for sparking growth in Daviess County, has been responsible for whatever gains have been made in real estate tax growth and stimulation of just about everybody’s thinking on the benefits of growth and prosperity.

For those who knew and have forgotten, or for those who might not have ever known or even cared, let me tell you how Daviess County was fortunate enough to get such a fine development as Lake Viking. At that time (40 years ago I am reminded) I had been appointed to the State Water Resources Board by then Governor John Dalton. I did not apply for the position but I was a strong backer of John Dalton, one of the finest and most well-meaning politicians I ever knew.

Somehow he knew, or had been informed, of my interest in water resource projects.

My interest began when old-timers in Daviess County had told me of past interest in building a flood-control project on Grand River in order to protect low-lying farmland. I considered that a reasonable endeavor.

At a meeting of the water board later on, we had a visitor whose company specialized in building lake resorts. When he asked if any member of the board knew of a community that might want such a project, I quickly raised my hand. I knew from past experience on the board what a lake or water resources project could mean to an area or a county such as ours. The rest is history. I will always be happy I raised my hand!

Daviess County has proven to be exceptionally blessed by this project. I am sorry that the farmland and homes that had been in families for many years and to them was priceless, had to be taken, but I still believe Lake Viking has proved to be a valuable asset to not only Daviess County, but to Northwest Missouri as well. I am convinced there are far more pluses, than minuses.

I only wish there were something else I could do to assist Daviess County to grow and prosper. I have just endured my 89th birthday. My parents are residents in Brown Cemetery and I know Kathy and I will one day be residents there. My heart is in Gallatin and please know I wouldn’t do anything to harm Daviess County and its fine people.

PS. I helped Pattonsburg get a new town on high ground. You’re welcome!

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