December 18, 2014

Drain Commission asking snowmobile riders to be cautious around river

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AuGRES — The completion of cross dams in one section of the AuGres River will prevent parts of the river from freezing and Drain Commissioner Larry Davis wants to make sure people using the river for winter recreation remain safe.

“People do have a tendency to ride on it,” Davis said. “If somebody comes ripping down there on a snowmobile, they’re going to run into some problems.

“This is the first year for them (dams). I don’t really know how much open water they’ll make,” he continued. “The cross dams are posted. There are reflective signs so they’ll be visible at night. … I just want to make sure everybody’s safe.”

Currently, Davis said four cross dams, stones placed in a v-shaped manner across the river to slow water flow and trap sediments, have been constructed, completing one of five sections as part of an anti-flooding plan that’ll be paid for by an increased drainage district assessment. The assessment, $635,000 over 15 years, includes a $20,000 per year levy for maintenance as well.

Despite the tax increase, with some residents of the drainage district paying three times more, Davis said the assessment has been received with some warmth.

“I have not received, so far, one complaint,” he said. “The farmers, who were paying the largest part of it, were 100 percent behind it.”

The $635,000, Davis said, was provided up front via a loan taken out from a local bank with four percent interest, to be paid back over 15 years. He also said area contractors have been rewarded with the excavating work required in building the cross dams.

“Local contractors were the wining bidders on everything,” Davis said.

According to Davis, the other four sections of the river will be reconstructed in the spring.

“We’re doing 11 miles of river and that (the completed portion) is the first three miles of it,” he said.

Besides the reconstruction, Davis is also confident the maintenance assessment will pay big dividends in keeping the river healthy.

“15 years down the road, because of that maintenance assessment, we should have the same river we have once the work is done,” Davis said.

The Spicer Group, out of Saginaw, performed engineering for the reconstruction project.

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