‘Ice out?’ Who says?

You’re hearing a lot about “ice out” on area lakes at this time of the year. Who reports these things?

People like Bill Malepsy of Albert Lea, who has been the official monitor of Fountain Lake since the ’60s.

Malepsy got the job when it was handed down to him from John E. “Pop” Murtaugh, who started monitoring ice on the lake in 1912, according to the Albert Lea Tribune. Malepsy still has the notebook Murtaugh used to record the lake’s status as he canoed around it every spring.

The recording of ice out on Fountain Lake is said to be the third oldest record in the state. Lake Osakis has been monitored, although not consistently, since 1867. Lake Minnetonka has been monitored consistently since 1870.

“The whole town gets involved,” Malepsy tells the paper. “I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it is.”

Alas, Malepsy is hanging up his scissors and his notebook and passing both on to his son, Mark, 50, who is also a barber.

The last of the ice melted on Fountain Lake last Friday at 5:20 p.m., the rookie reported.

That’s a month later than last year. But ice has never stayed on Fountain Lake into May.