Here are your RV news highlights for the week of September 14 through 20, 2019.
Grafton, Illinois, has a big problem recovering from flooding caused by the Mississippi River. It also has what a nearby newspaper describes as, “An unlikely source of charitable help,” one Marcus Lemonis, Camping World CEO. When the floodwaters rolled in with extreme damage, they caught Lemonis’ eye, and caused him to respond with financial and physical help that has amounted to nearly $150,000, including covering the costs of a huge number of dumpsters to collect and dispose of debris. Lemonis says he’s impressed by the tenacity of Grafton’s residents and wanted to help out. He’ll soon be adding another donation, more in line with his history: He’s having a flagpole installed in Grafton, one he says will host the largest flag on the Mississippi.
A spectacular motorhome-over-the-embankment accident has spared the lives of a couple and four of their children. Steve Lapp was piloting his Class A motorhome on Pennsylvania Route 645 near Bethel Township Saturday (Sept. 14) when his brakes failed in a sharp curve. The rig smashed through a guardrail, down a steep embankment, and stopped 100 feet into heavy woods. While the motorhome was demolished, Lapp’s wife and four children, while injured and hospitalized, are expected to make a full recovery.
Hurricane Dorian didn’t finish its destructive work on the U.S. coast; Parks Canada will be cleaning up damage left after Dorian visited Prince Edward Island, reincarnated as a post-tropical storm. Cavendish Campground, a part of Prince Edward Island National Park, has been devastated and will likely be closed for a year for a recovery. Recovery teams say at least 80 percent of the campground was affected by Dorian’s winds, with nearly all standing trees blown down.
Big interstate freeways and mountain lions aren’t a good mix. That’s the sad truth illustrated by the case of a mountain lion dubbed P-61. The four-year-old male cougar had been tagged with a GPS locator collar by the National Park Service in a study of big cats in California‘s Santa Monica mountains. In July, GPS tracking shows P-61 had crossed the 405 Freeway near Sepulveda Pass without incident. However, on September 7 he tried it again, and sadly was struck and killed by a motor vehicle on the 10-lane interstate. Researchers say they have game-camera photos of another untagged male cougar in the area, and suggest the two may have gotten in a turf spat, causing P-61 to move along.
Some Door County, Wisconsin, residents are in an uproar after developers putting in a residential subdivision added the term “campground” to their conditional use permit application. Seems the developers are aiming to build a patch of single-family homes, catering to owners of upscale Class A motorhomes by including a parking pad at every home site. To meet legal requirements, they added the “campground” term to the legal papers to ensure the RVs can be legally occupied for more than 30 days per year. The term is apparently anathema to some, and opposition has come. But, the developers point out in their application, “Clearly, this resort development will introduce to Door County a highly desirable visitor demographic that has the financial capacity to support local businesses and enjoy/contribute to all that Door County has to offer.”
Snowbirds beware: Drinking water at Cocopah Bend RV & Golf Resort near Yuma, Arizona, has come under the scrutiny of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency, which oversees drinking water on tribal lands, says a May 2019 inspection turned up issues with the resort water supply. A large water tank supplies water to the resort and other facilities, and the EPA says it and associated pipes haven’t been properly sealed, which could lead to contamination from bacteria and rodents. The tribe says that despite not meeting EPA standards, the water is tested monthly and no bad bacteria has been found. The tribe and the EPA say improvements will be made to the system by February 2020.
Spokane, Washington, statistics: This year the city has exhausted its $50,000 budget allotted for towing away abandoned RVs. As of last week, 53 RVs had been towed and destroyed; 20 more are at impound awaiting the same fate. The city has authorized another $50,000 for the balance of the year for the project, designed to enhance public health and safety.
Residents of Weirton, West Virginia, who normally experience peaceful Saturday nights, got quite a shakeup this last Saturday (Sept. 14). Police say a man has been charged with driving with a suspended license and improper registration after his motorhome stalled at the top of Weirton Street, then took a rolling trip backward, leaving a path of destruction. When all was said and done, a power pole was sheared in half, garbage cans mashed, street signs were flattened, and a car demolished. Worst of all, the car ended up shoved into a duplex, putting two families that lived there in the market for new homes, as the homes were classed as “uninhabitable” by local officials.
A fall camping trip in New York is a bit cheaper, thanks to an extension of New York State Parks fall camping promotion. More than 30 state parks on the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are offering 50-percent-off campsite reservations and vehicle entrance fees. The promotion runs now through October 14 and applies to campsite stays that are made between August 1 and October 14. Reservations made prior to August do not qualify. A minimum of a two-night stay is required for the discount.
Twenty people stood up in universal opposition to a zoning change that would allow construction of an RV park near a Bristol, Virginia, neighborhood. Those 20 must be feeling let down, as the planning staff has recommended the rezone which would convert 19 acres to business use, including that of a proposed park. Opponents provided a common litany of objections: Diminished property values, traffic safety problems, unfavorable impacts on quality and character of the area. Next stop, the Planning Commission, which gives a “favorable” or “unfavorable” recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say on the possible change.
In the crosshairs of the homeless crisis, Lacey, Washington, city council members have found a workaround. Faced with homeless people living in cars and RVs, the city earlier wrote an ordinance banning street camping. But that ordinance was found in violation of a federal ruling that made such bans illegal when applied to homeless people. This forced the city to provide overnight camping for homeless RVers on a city-owned lot. But the newly passed ordinance makes it illegal to park an RV or commercial vehicle on any “improved or unimproved portion of any street, alley, public right-of-way or publicly owned parking lot” for longer than four hours. This would include the city-owned lot presently used by homeless RVers. One of the seven city council members, Carolyn Cox, voted against the ordinance. She said, “[The ordinance] gives the appearance that we’re really putting the squeeze on the homeless. We don’t want to harass them. They need to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Canadian snowbirds who use Telus as a cellular provider, take note. Apparently some Telus users temporarily suspend their Telus service while in the U.S., finding that the Canadian provider’s $8 per day roaming charge a bit steep. But one Telus customer was shocked when he found that the $10 fee he used to pay each year for temporary suspension had tripled to $30 without warning. Telus admitted it had not given any prior notice, and expected it would receive some backlash, but stands by the change which became official September 3.
Residents are taking a victory lap in Big Pond, Nova Scotia, after their two-year battle against a proposed RV park has apparently been won. A 500-site RV park had received approval by a local council for construction along Bras d’Or Lake, but local residents took the matter to a provincial appeals board. That board ruled in their favor, indicating that the local council’s approval “failed to reasonably protect neighbouring residents from the potential noise and visual impact of the proposed development as required under the municipality’s own rules.” The council fought back, taking that ruling to Nova Scotia’s Court of Appeals. After hearing the matter, a three-judge panel took but a half-hour to affirm the appeals board decision. The developer says, “Game over” – he won’t pursue the matter.