Attendants at a meeting held Friday by NIPSCO that discussed the low water levels on lakes Freeman and Shafer at the Brandywine Convention Center in Monticello. (Photo: Michael Heinz/Journal & Courier )
Attendants at a meeting held Friday by NIPSCO that discussed the low water levels on lakes Freeman and Shafer at the Brandywine Convention Center in Monticello. (Photo: Michael Heinz/Journal & Courier )
A Friday meeting between Carroll and White county stakeholders to discuss lingering concerns over the recent Lake Freeman water drop was not what some were expecting.

The meeting among representatives from NIPSCO, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the lake’s association of homeowners, and local and federal elected officials was originally supposed to be closed to the public.

That was before the office of U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita shared word of the meeting to the general public. As a result, more than 80 people filed into the Best Western/Brandywine for the meeting, prompting a last-minute agenda change that added a period to accept public comments and questions.

“This was not supposed to be a public meeting, and I’ll take responsibility if we leaked that out ... but communication I think is essential to solving problems,” Rokita said. “I think the public as well as the stakeholders that were invited to this public meeting came away with a much better appreciation for everyone’s views and a lot more good information that now will be dispensed into the community rather than rumors and falsehoods.”

In August, Lake Freeman’s water level dropped more than 2 feet as NIPSCO diverted water through the Oakdale Dam to aid mussels on the federal and state endangered species lists. The move prompted layoffs at some businesses and widespread concern about lowered property values and the local lake economy.

It was a repeat of a similar, although less drastic, occurrence in summer 2012.

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