WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 11, 2010, 11:04 AM

New dock brings handicap accessible fishing to Lake Elsie

Hankinson, ND (WDAY TV) - A group of veterans in Hankinson, North Dakota has been laboring over the past few years to leave a lasting legacy for the generations to come. It's a recreation area where one man in particular can enjoy his favorite pastime.

"So far the fish ain't cooperating."

But uncooperative fish or being bound to a wheelchair won't keep Rocky Kath down. Today he was just happy to be out fishing. A handicap accessible dock at Lake Elsie just outside of Hankinson makes it possible.

The dock is part of a 17 acre recreation area being built by his friends in the local American Legion post 88.

"To be able to see him come out and enjoy what we have to provide for him, there is no way you can explain it, it's just great.”

Handicapped for 30 years and unable to use his hands, Rocky's neighbor built him a stand on his wheelchair that allows him to reel in a catch using mouth controls. All he needs is a buddy to cast out and bait the line. The dock at Lake Elsie just adds an extra amount of independence.

"I fished here a lot over the years from young on and then after my accident happened that pretty much came to a standstill until this come about and I started to do some fishing again.”

The Outdoor Learning site adds new features each year. Rocky enjoyed the park's walking path for years, but he said he's especially excited about the fishing.

"I guess once it gets in your blood, it's there I guess."

Local American Legion Members have donated over 10,000 man hours to stabilizing the shoreline and enhancing the wetlands, just a couple of many projects they have on tape so that Rocky and many others can enjoy this site for years to come.

The Outdoor learning site is funded through grants and donations. They still hope to add an indoor and outdoor classroom, picnic area, campground, and veteran's memorial.