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Lake Ocheda survey seeks input

WORTHINGTON — A new online survey has been developed to collect public input on Lake Ocheda, from rating satisfaction of the lake’s quality to use of the lake and how people wish to see it improved.

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The survey, at, was developed by Jay Milbrandt, who lives on the lake.

“The future of Lake Ocheda has received a lot of discussion the last couple of months,” said Milbrandt, the newest board member of the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District, adding that he’s fielded a lot of questions and concerns from individuals regarding possible improvements to the nearly 1,700-acre lake south of Worthington.

“I’ve only been on the (watershed) board about a year. I don’t know a lot about Ocheda or how people use it — or what people want to see done with it,” he said. “There was a desire to have a place for that feedback.”

Milbrandt said he’d like to use survey results — there is space for respondents to offer suggestions for Lake Ocheda’s management — as a basis for decisions the board must make moving forward.

“Lake Ocheda serves the entire community, for recreation, water supply … and the landowners who will have, to some degree, a very important role in determining the future because they can adopt a management plan,” Milbrandt said. For that reason, the survey may be completed by anyone.

The survey asks respondents for their name and an email address, which allows Milbrandt the opportunity to keep those interested individuals informed.

“This will … maybe create a newsletter or a way to keep those interested up to date on what we’re doing, the decisions being made and the outcomes,” he said.

Milbrandt, who teaches marketing research at the collegiate level, said developing an online survey gives people an opportunity to respond without having to do so in a public forum. In recent years, a group of Lake Ocheda landowners has had gatherings to collect input on the lake, but not everyone can attend or feels comfortable voicing concerns publicly, he added.

“This is confidential — it gives people the flexibility to give that feedback,” Milbrandt explained.

The two primary reasons for the survey are to develop a baseline — starting with what people want to see happen with the lake, and then to use as a comparison to follow-up surveys after projects have been completed.

“If the board makes changes, we could go back and give the same survey to people in two years to see if they’re more satisfied with the lake,” Milbrandt said. “This gives me the mechanism for knowing, if we’re making changes, they’re changes the community is happy with.

“We don’t know how people view the lake and if what we’re doing is viewed positively.” he added. “I believe in the public forum -— that we need places for people to give input. More than anything, people want to be heard and they want their input was valued. Maybe this is that tool, maybe not. At least we’re trying to do something that’s leveraging some technology and a modern system for hearing form the community.”

The survey will be available online through July 1.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

(507) 376-7330