Fourth of July celebrants planning to spend the holiday on Gull Point on Gull Lake will have company this year.
The Cass County Sheriff's Department announced deputies will be stationed on land and in the water in an effort to curb trespassing and underage drinking.
"We're not trying to ruin anyone's holiday weekend or fun, we just want them to do it responsibly," Chief Deputy Tom Burch said.
Burch said property owners on Gull Point have for years been taken advantage of by people crossing their property to get onto the point. This year, officers will be stationed on the road to Gull Point and on the point itself, which extends as a sand bar out into Gull Lake and is private property.
Boats can still anchor off the point, Burch said, but people will not be allowed to step onto the point. Along with trespassing, he said littering and people using the point as a bathroom have been the biggest complaints the department has received.
"Where the water stops, that's private property," Burch said. "When the party is over there's been garbage from one end of the point to the other and the property owners end up having to clean the mess up."
Deputies also will check identification of people at the point in an effort to curb underage drinking, Burch said.
The decision to increase law enforcement presence is in part a result of last year's drowning of 19-year-old Nathan Awalt, who stepped off a drop-off into about 22 feet of water at the point and never surfaced.
"We're trying to avoid any other tragic accidents out there," Burch said. "The bottom line is we just want people to have a good time, do it responsibly and respect other people's property."
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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