Sandbar parties have reached intolerable level
By Carrie A. Mizell
Gilchrist County officials are asking FWC to crack down on sandbar parties after an Old Town woman was arrested over Memorial Day weekend for firing gunshots while partying on a sandbar near Hart Springs.
Dubbed “a redneck yacht club,” the sandbar parties along the Suwannee River have grown in recent years and now average anywhere from 75 to 100 boats on any given weekend. As the crowd has grown, so has the intensity of the parties. On Sunday, May 27, Patricia Lynn Bowmer, 48, of Old Town, was arrested by FWC officers and charged with Reckless Discharge of a Firearm and Possession of a Controlled Substance Without Prescription. After being booked into the Gilchrist County Jail, Bowmer was released on her own recognizance.
On Friday, June 1, Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby wrote a letter to Roland Garcia, regional director of FWC. In the letter Crosby explains that the Gilchrist County Commission would like to express its concern over the situation on the Suwannee River on weekends and holidays.
“Based on the observations of county commissioners themselves, and on complaints received from others, the commission believes that problems associated with partying on sandbars and along the shoreline of the river have reached intolerable levels,” Crosby wrote. “Excessive drinking has been observed, drug use is suspected and level of noise and rowdiness has reached nuisance levels. All this has an unacceptably negative impact on public safety and the enjoyment of public and private property along the Suwannee River.”
Crosby further explained that the county has and will continue to do what it can to enforce laws along the shoreline, where Sheriff Daniel Slaughter has jurisdiction. County officials would also like state law enforcement officers to continue, and if possible, increase enforcement on the water and shorelines to alleviate the problem.
“It should be the goal of the county and the state to control the drinking, rowdiness and other misbehavior on the river, and on its sandbars and shorelines, so that use of the river can again become safe and enjoyable for families as it has been in the recent past,” Crosby stated in his letter.
Dixie County Manager Mike Cassidy is expected to present a similar letter regarding sandbar parties to the Dixie County Commission for approval at their next regular meeting on Thursday, June 7.