Maciol, county leaders urge boating safety for Memorial Day weekend
SYLVAN BEACH — As a lifelong Oneida County resident, Oneida County Sheriff Robert M. Maciol has his own long history of enjoying summers on Sylvan Beach.
And now as the county sheriff, he wants to remind all residents that fun in the sun also requires a fair amount of safety.
"My dad fished this lake for over 70 years. I spent a lot of my childhood up here, walleye fishing, and certainly spent a lot of quality time here," Maciol recalled as he stood along the Barge Canal on Thursday morning.
"Boating is a very important part of our tourism here in Oneida County. It's obviously a very fun activity. It's great for the area. It gives families a lot of opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Oneida Lake and Sylvan Beach."
The sheriff’s office’s marine patrol has five boats and four personal watercraft. They patrol primarily Oneida Lake, especially during busy event weekends, along with Delta Lake, White Lake, Kayuta Lake, Otter Lake and Hinckley Reservoir.
"Probably the single most important thing is wearing life jackets when you're out on the water. That is critical," Maciol said about boating safety.
"We have a zero tolerance for boating while intoxicated. Just utilizing common sense and common courtesy can certainly avoid a lot of tragedy."
Along with the Marine Patrol on Oneida Lake, both the sheriff's office and the New York State Police will be out in full force this weekend patrolling the roadways around Sylvan Beach and Verona Beach. Memorial Day is one of the busiest weekends of the year for the village.
"Everybody's ready here in Sylvan Beach. We welcome all our friends from near and far. We're looking to have a great summer down here," said Sylvan Beach Mayor Richard Sullivan.
"A lot of boating safety is common sense, but even more importantly, it's common courtesy. So be aware of the people near you and around you."
The Sylvan Beach Fire Department will also be available in case of an emergency, even on the lake. The fire department has their own boats and will respond to 911 calls for people suffering medical emergencies on the water or if your vessel catches on fire.
But there are limits to what the fire department will do.
"If the weather conditions turn bad and you cannot get in, we'll come out and bring you to shore," said Fire Lt. Colin Isom.
"But we do not tow boats, and we do not bring gasoline out to your vessel if you run out of gas."
Due to new laws passed in New York, everyone age 40 or younger who wants to operate a vessel this summer will need a state safety certificate. Next year, everyone age 45 or younger will need the safety certificate. And by Jan. 1, 2025, everyone operating a boat or vessel in New York State will need the safety certificate.
There are some boater safety courses still available this summer. To check availability and sign up for a class, visit the website www.tinyurl.com/45jhhb6b.
If you have any questions regarding the boater’s safety courses, call the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office at 315-765-2222 and speak with Jennifer Gudnaya.
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