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Oke to be honored at Long Lake on Monday

The public is invited to attend a ceremony on Monday afternoon to honor Sen. Bob Oke, (R-Port Orchard), by changing the name of the Long Lake Community Center to his.

The Kitsap County commissioners decided last month to change the name of the center to the Bob Oke Community Center in recognition of the local legislator’s determined effort to secure funding for cleanup of the popular but algae-choked lake.

“He has been so instrumental in the process of getting the lake cleaned up, and getting the funding for it,” said Debbie Austin, assistant to South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, who proposed the name change.

Austin said since the center is county property, the process of re-naming it would be no more complicated than deciding to do it, then passing a resolution, which is on the commissioners’ agenda for their meeting Monday morning.

“I am proud to be able to bring forward this recommendation and to honor a very dedicated public servant and friend to South Kitsap County. Both Bob and Judy (Oke) have always elevated our area and our citizens and have been pro-active for many years in making South Kitsap a great place to live and work,” said Angel, who will lead the event Monday.

Oke has been working with the Citizens for Improving Long Lake (CILL) for years, supporting their efforts to create and implement a cleanup plan to rid the lake of invasive plants and toxic algae blooms.

CILL, which includes President Ken Spohn and other homeowners concerned about the health of the lake, spent the past three years researching and discussing options before formulating the plan, which is to pay an environmental engineering company $1.1 million to not only rid the lake of its three main problem plants, but to implement a 10-year management plan.

Once the plan was in place, Spohn said CILL then approached local lawmakers to find the money pay for it, which led them to Oke.

“He set up a couple of challenges for us,” Spohn said, explaining that Oke told them if the group got preliminary approval for the plan from both the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Ecology, along with support from at least two-thirds of lakefront homeowners, he would have a good chance at getting state funding.

This year, Oke helped secure two streams of funding for the lake — a capital budget request submitted by him that will put at least $750,000 toward the lake’s cleanup, along with his SB-5699, which will help rid state lakes of toxic algae blooms and nuisance weeds, especially freshwater ones like Long Lake.

Oke said he was “thrilled and honored” that the county wanted to name the center after him.

“Judy and I are entirely honored to do this. Long Lake Park is one of the best parks in Kitsap County and it has been a shame that people couldn’t use it without getting sick from the water,” Oke said. “It was great to see people so dedicated to doing what they needed to get done to begin the process of cleaning it up.”

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