Schwarzenegger: Tahoe is open for Fourth
Sun News Service
Making his second appearance at the South Shore in less than a week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger once again declared Lake Tahoe ready and open for the Fourth of July.
After wading his way through a crowd of cell phone camera clutching teenage girls and greeting employees and customers at several Camp Richardson businesses, the governor was received with widespread applause at the Camp Richardson Marina pier.
“We want everyone to know that Lake Tahoe is open for business,” Schwarzenegger said to enthusiastic cheers.
During the walk to the pier, the governor told El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago and South Lake Tahoe Mayor Kathay Lovell about the perception among many people outside of the area that all of South Lake Tahoe lies in ruin.
The governor was seeking to dispel the idea and encouraged tourism in advance of the Independence Day holiday.
Despite the optimism expressed by the crowd and several government officials at the event, signs that the Angora fire has slowed the area’s primary industry were evident.
“We do have rooms available for July 4, unlike many years,” said Jerry Bindel, South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association president.
Eighty percent of South Lake Tahoe residents are in the tourism business, according to Bindel.
“Our community is going through a very traumatic experience,” said Carl Ribaudo, chairman of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce. “Many of our lives and dreams are tied to a very, very fragile tourism economy.”
The fact that South Lake Tahoe’s economy has not been completely shattered by the Angora fire is due to the efforts of those most affected by the catastrophe, according to Jeff Michael, Lake Valley Fire District Chief.
Near the end of the event, Michael remarked at the resilience of those who have lost their homes in the blaze.
“They’re the reason why this town is still open and will really, truly get this town back on it’s feet.” Michael said.
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