- Associated Press - Friday, July 25, 2014

BRIGHTON, Iowa (AP) - About 150 people attended a picnic Thursday to celebrate the reopening of Lake Darling State Park, which is now available for the public to enjoy after about six years of restoration work.

The $16 million project in southeast Iowa’s Washington County began in 2008 and included draining the 300-acre lake and replacing a dam. The park, which is about three miles from Brighton, now has new roads, handicapped-accessible fishing piers and a lodge.

The refilling of the lake began in February and was completed earlier than expected, but a group campsite still needs to be finished, television station KCRG reported (https://bit.ly/1l0YkhX ).

Charles Rubey, treasurer of the Friends of Lake Darling, remembers swimming at the park in the early 1950s. Before its restoration, the lake water was muddy after years of silt accumulation. He said the restored lake looks now like it did when he first saw it 60 years ago.

Rubey said he expects surrounding communities to see a boost in business from the park’s reopening.

Lake Darling is named for J.N. “Ding” Darling, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and noted conservationist who dedicated the park on Sept. 17, 1950.

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