Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daria Anderson-Faden
The Observer 

A Few Changes For Oliver Lake

Say Hello To Safety Measures, Goodbye To Off-Road Vehicles


March 26, 2020

Daria Anderson-Faden

Oliver Lake maintenance worker Ken Van Diver greets fisherman Dave Ford, who said he would probably catch some catfish that March day and turn them back into the lake. This was just before word came down that shaking hands could be a health risk during the coronavirus outbreak.

On a beautiful morning, Ken Van Diver, park maintenance worker at Oliver Lake west of Kimball, showed off the lake and its beauty.

Although there were only two campers on that March morning, hundreds of campers from all over the United States could soon be enjoying the facilities after the coronavirus outbreak passes.

Almost all the ice was gone, but local ice fishermen had a successful season catching bass, bluegill, trout and walleye.

"It was good fishing," Van Diver said.

Van Diver, 75, a lifelong resident of Kimball, loves his job.

"Working out here is the best thing I did; it is the best job for an old guy," he said.

The pride that Van Diver displays after just working one summer at Oliver is heartwarming. He said he treats the campers like they are his guests. He is responsible for mowing, cleaning restrooms and picking up trash.

During the summer, he picks up and takes home around three 30-gallon trash bags of garbage left behind by people. But he is alright with this because he truly loves the park and loves his job.

Some changes are forthcoming at Oliver Reservoir for the summer, according to Van Diver. Solar lights will be installed around entrance signs and restrooms, and the beach and the road by the beach will be closed to traffic simply as a safety issue for children playing on the beach. Also, off-road vehicles will not be allowed at the lake at all.

Over the Fourth of July, Oliver Lake had more than 100 campers, but the problem is there are only 39 camping spots, according to Van Diver. So more camping spots will be made available.

Generally, Van Diver's guests are pretty cooperative, but he said, "You always have a few" who are not.

Few things shock Van Diver, but the theft or vandalism of a big wooden toilet seat from the restroom did surprise him.

"What would you do with it? " he asked. "It wouldn't fit anything."

He certainly was disappointed in whoever decided they needed the big old wooden toilet seat.

As summer moves closer, Van Diver will begin getting Oliver Lake prepared for his guests.


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