The Restoration of Lake Sara!
Days at the beach create deep, fond memories where time is an illusion and clocks are non-existent. Memories of days when the sunshine warms the sand and the water, both kids and adults play and laugh the afternoon away, and an ice cold drink keeps you going. Unfortunately, these days have passed. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lake Sara’s beach was bursting with people spending their weekends in the water, sand, and the many activities surrounding it. In more recent years, it has fallen into disuse as commercial lessees sold off the recreational equipment and the maintenance of the beach began to decline. Effingham locals will recall the glory days of Lake Sara and how it bonded the community together. 
Tom Ryan, Chairman of the Effingham Water Authority Parks & Recreation Committee and Trustee of the Lake Sara Forever Foundation and committee members Christo Shultz, Sheryl Habing, Janet and Bob Kennedy, Jeff Brunoehler, and Sophie Kabbes have come together to restore Lake Sara’s 30 acre beach peninsula. They have worked incredibly hard over the past seven years to acquire the beach lease so it could rest in the hands of the water authority and begin the work of restoring the area. They have put on public workshops and taken up surveys from the community to hear what the residents of Effingham want to see and enjoy at Lake Sara. The workshops and surveys were extremely successful and the board has been able to implement the wants of the community into the construction plan.

The committee members, along with Farnsworth Group’s leading landscape architects, have developed an incredible and extensive five-phase plan for the restoration of the lake. It includes a fishing dock, three playgrounds, a life-size chess game, frisbee golf course, biking and walking trails, many adult sport activities and much more. All amenities will be ADA accessible, including plans for an ADA accessible three-hole golf course, water entry, and more!
When the lease was first turned over to the Water Authority, they lacked the resources for major renovation, as they had only two full time employees and a minimal budget. To combat this issue, there has been an incredible amount of support by recreation committee volunteers who now manage the project. They have applied for a $400,000 grant from the DNR, which they will match. They are thrilled to announce that they have received the grant and the construction of Phase One can begin! Another $475,000 has been generously donated or pledged for the construction thus far by locals, which is a great demonstration of support for the restoration by the community. More donations are needed to complete all the activities included in the Master Plan.

The restoration of Lake Sara’s beach peninsula will provide the 35,000+ people in Effingham County and surrounding counties with an environment of fun activities, games, fitness, laughter, and the perfect place for families and friends to spend time together. Effingham local Kristie Campbell has fond memories of the sunny, warm lake days she and her husband Niall enjoyed when they lived on the lake for nearly seven years. It is a spot that is near and dear to her family’s heart. Her grandfather even owned one of the original lots on the lake!
The restoration and the start of this beautiful project could not have happened without the amazing support of the local community. Thank you to everyone who has come together in an effort to restore Lake Sara. There has been much progress made, but Lake Sara Forever still needs your help to continue to each phase of the construction. Click here to donate and here to see the amazing vision for Lake Sara. You can also follow the progress by following Lake Sara Forever on Facebook.