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Around the South Bay

One lake, two days and 12,000-too-many holes in one.

May 26, 1994

Operators of El Segundo's new golf practice range recently discovered an unexpected hazard: The lake built in the middle of the driving range is filling up with golf balls--and it's costing the city a lot of money to fish them out.

"People like to see their balls make a splash," said Jim Fauk, director of the Recreation and Parks Department. Fauk said many duffers, who pay several dollars to hit a bucket of rented balls onto the range, aim for the lake about 130 to 160 yards off the tees. Anyone, whether swinging a pitching wedge or a five-iron, has a good shot at it--too good, as it turned out.

Two days after the city-owned range's grand opening, workers had to toil late into the night picking balls from the two-foot-deep lake. By the time they finally clocked out at 3 a.m., they had fished out about 12,000 balls. That means about one of every 10 balls hit off the tees was winding up in the lake.

Last week, the City Council voted unanimously to solve the problem by filling in the concrete-lined lake with dirt and sod, at a cost of about $12,000. Construction of a costly drainage system will account for much of the hefty price tag, Fauk said. The fill-in project is expected to be completed next month.

Meanwhile, golf course workers will continue to scour the lake bottom for balls. Bill Schickler, who operates the course, said a recently purchased hand cart will make the task a little easier.

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The catfish are coming! The catfish are coming!

The exact date is a closely held secret, but sometime soon the California Department of Fish and Game will stock the 14-acre Alondra Park Lake in Lawndale with hundreds of 15-inch-long channel catfish. It's part of the department's "Fishin' in the City" program, designed to give people who can't make it out of town a chance to enjoy the thrill of hauling in a big one.

"This provides an opportunity for a lot of retired folks and youngsters to enjoy fishing," said Fish and Game spokesman Patrick Moore.

In all, 14 lakes in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties will be stocked with about 110,000 pounds of catfish, Moore said, more than double the amount last year. The fish are brought in from a catfish farm in Hanford. About 1,000 pounds of whisker fish will be put in Alondra Park Lake each month.

Ben Cariaga, recreation services manager for the El Camino district of the county parks department, said catfish thrive in the lake, which ranges from about four feet to 30 feet deep.

"They've done real well there," Cariaga said. Although many are caught, he said, holdovers from previous stockings may still be swimming. Some real monsters could be lurking in the depths.

Moore, of the Fish and Game Department, said the lake water is monitored periodically to ensure that it is clean and that the fish are edible.

To fish in Alondra Park Lake or any urban lake, anglers must have a valid fishing license. A one-day permit costs $8.65, and an annual fishing license costs $24.40--probably less than you'd spend for a blackened Cajun catfish dinner for two at a restaurant.

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Getting the public to turn in weapons seems to be a little more fruitful when an incentive is offered. Especially in Carson.

The Los Angles County Sheriff's Department started collecting guns May 8 on a "no questions asked" basis. It's the first time the sheriff has actively solicited the public to turn in guns. The latest department figures, which cover the first nine days of the program, show that only 47 guns were turned in throughout the county.

Of those, only four showed up at the Carson sheriff's station.

In contrast, when officials in Hartford, Conn., offered money and gift certificates for weapons earlier this month, more than 4,000 weapons came through the door in five days. In Anaheim last February, the Mighty Ducks swapped two hockey tickets for each of the 104 guns they received in a one-day exchange program.

The Sheriff's Department will continue to accept guns without asking for the owner's identification through June 8. Information: (310) 830-1123.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"If this were a company, it would be the most dynamic firm. Many of the members are advanced in age, tremendously experienced. They're the ones that brought the rockets to the moon."

--Herbert Woertler, an unemployed sales executive, on The Job Club, a group of out-of-work white-collar administrators sponsored by the state unemployment office in Torrance.

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