Late season snow, ice keeping Lakeland-area businesses from getting to workSubmitted: 04/24/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Late season snow, ice keeping Lakeland-area businesses from getting to work
ARBOR VITAE - You won't find Neal Anderson where he'd like to be this time of year: on a lake.  Instead, he mainly stuck in the shop taking out his frustrations on cedar boards with a saw.

"This is where you get the meaning of the term 'pier pressure,'" Anderson said.

The Northland Docks owner traditionally likes to have his team wearing waders and putting docks in on area lakes this week, but with more than a foot of ice still on many lakes, they're pretty much stuck on shore.

"It's not common, it's bad," Anderson said.

Anderson, whose family owned a resort on Big Arbor Vitae Lake, says the average ice-out hit on April 15. The latest he recalls seeing there was two days before Memorial Day.  

Anderson estimates he's about a month behind schedule in 2018 due to all the remaining ice. His company places about 500 sections of docks each year, with most existing ones in by that Memorial Day weekend.  

But after the summer of 2017's especially high water forced Anderson to make a lot of dock repairs, he's facing a new problem of not being able to get on the water.  As of Tuesday, his workers could only place sections on the shoreline to eventually be put in the water.

"I think we'll lose a lot of new sales," Anderson said. "People that are maybe going to buy something new this year, they'll say, 'Ah, we'll just kick that can down the road,' possibly."

Down the road -- or cart path -- you'll find an equally frustrated golf pro.

"Looking at all this snow after a long winter, I'm ready for spring, no doubt," Trout Lake Head Golf Pro Mike Osborne said.

In his 16th year with the Arbor Vitae course, Osborne remembers opening Trout Lake on April 14 last year. On April 24 this year, most of his tee boxes are still hidden under a half-foot of snow.  Osborne's team has kept busy by power-washing golf carts, preparing the clubhouse, and sorting through new merchandise.

Osborne says the melting snow will actually help hydrate the course.

"We don't want any more ice," Osborne said.  "We want melting and no freezing."

With covers on all his greens, Osborne expects the course to open by May 9 -- the latest opening date he's ever had.

"We don't want people to come out and be disappointed in our product, so we're going to make sure that we're good and ready to go, so one or two days isn't going to make a big difference," Osborne said.

Back at Northland Docks, Anderson can always kill the time he's waiting on by building more docks, but he knows when the ice goes his team will need to make a splash.

"We'll just attack, you know? As soon as the lakes thaw out, we'll attack and go after it," Anderson said.

Anderson says his workers can install an eight-section dock in about an hour and a half, but the month-long delay likely means many docks won't be in until well into June.

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