New flotilla sets sail on Norris Lake

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By Natasha LaFayette

The 800 miles of shoreline on Norris Lake will have some extra patrol this summer thanks to the addition of the Norris Lake Flotilla.

Almost 30 people have agreed to devote themselves to the buoyant group of citizens providing boating safety services and monitoring of lake activity.

On Feb. 24, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) helped initiate several locals into the flotilla.

The flotilla grew out of concerns by local citizens and law enforcement regarding high traffic and congestion on the lake, according to flotilla commander Tom Walsh.

During last Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony of the flotilla members, Walsh spoke of Claude Fox and the formation of Norris Lake in 1937.

Just after the dams were constructed and the lake filled, Fox was one of the first to put a boat on the man made creation, said Walsh.

“Soon after, Claude Fox formed the first flotilla,” said Walsh to the large community audience spotted with the gray suits of the flotilla members.

Norris Lake has developed into a desirable destination and vacation area for many summer travelers since that time. And with the increase of people to the lake there has been boating related deaths or major injuries each summer, said Walsh.

“It is important for all boaters to understand and practice safe boating procedures,” said Walsh. “Auxiliary members have no law enforcement powers but are able to assist and cooperate with TWRA and local law enforcement to ensure safety of boaters.”

Walsh introduced members of the TWRA and Coast Guard Auxiliary during the evening. Speakers included Campbell County Mayor William Baird, Coast Guard Auxiliary Commander David Maul and District Chief of Staff Rick Washburn.

“This is a rare occasion,” said Washburn, “where ordinary citizens have seen a problem and are stepping up to educate about boater safety.”

Washburn also commented about the rarity of almost 30 members joining the flotilla before it even hits the water.

“You are part of a group of 1,200 people in 14 divisions,” said Maul to the new recruits. “It is an organization of volunteers and those 1,200 people are working with you.”

While many of the speakers expressed the flotilla surpassing expectations, Walsh recognized this was only the beginning of the hard work ahead.

“There will be a very rigorous schedule this summer and your mission will be long,” said Walsh. “This ceremony marks only the beginning of