DOVER —To the Eagle Lake community, Don Hermes is “Mr. Eagle Lake.”
Hermes, now 90, has devoted much of his life to the lake he’s lived next to for practically his whole life. He helped found several of the official entities that look after upkeep of the lake — like the Eagle Lake Water Management District and the property owners association — and has been galvanizing force behind community fireworks displays and the lake’s Fourth of July celebration.
“Every time you turn around, Don is doing something on behalf of the lake,” Doug McLemore, a fellow Eagle Lake-side homeowner, said. “He’s been a constant thread.”
A weed harvester boat was named after Hermes in 2014, but McLemore didn’t think that was enough.
In December, McLemore appealed to Racine County to rename the entirety of Eagle Lake Park, located on the north end of the lake, after its lifelong devotee: Hermes. That wasn’t possible, Racine County staff said, but McLemore and a county committee have come to an agreement that could name a soon-to-be revamped lakeside section of the park after Hermes.
Julie Anderson, the director of public works and development services for the county, called the proposal, “a lasting memento to (Hermes’) legacy.”
Anderson found that the only times that Racine County parks had been named after people were when that individual had donated land for the creation or expansion of the park — one of the few things Hermes hasn’t done for Eagle Lake.
However, starting this spring, construction is going to begin on a new seawall and walking path along one of the lake’s more popular fishing spots, next to one of the lake’s boat launches. This opened up an opportunity.
The refurbishment is set to be completed in spring 2020, which Anderson said would be a good time to officially name the area after Hermes.
McLemore had no objection during Thursday’s county Works, Parks and Facilities Committee meeting.
“I think it would be excellent. I’d be very much in favor of that,” McLemore said. “It’s right on the lake … It’s a very attractive area.”
County Supervisor Monte Osterman of Racine offered the name of “Hermes Landing” to be applied to the whole area around the boat launch.
“I’ve been thinking about this since first brought up. I think that naming a boat launch or the sea wall area is not enough,” Osterman said. “As ‘Hermes Landing,’ people can make of that what they will.”
The committee liked that idea and gave it unanimous approval Thursday.
Anderson plans to create a draft of a resolution that can be presented to the committee when it reconvenes in two weeks, either on Jan. 22 or Jan. 24. After getting committee approval, the County Board can approve or deny the naming by vote.
If approved, Anderson said she recommends having the sign set up this spring while construction is underway to designate the area’s future name.
“(We can) get something to recognize Mr. Hermes right away in the spring. And then, when the project is done, we can have a nice plaque that will satisfy everybody here,” Anderson said. “We’d like to get something named while Mr. Hermes is still very much alive.”
McLemore said that he plans on asking fellow Eagle Lake area residents for donations to pay for the plaque that could be installed in spring 2020.
The wording of the plaque can be decided at a later date, the committee decided, but they wanted to get the boat in the water by getting a resolution drafted, to make Mr. Eagle Lake’s honor official as soon as possible.