Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Different tax for towing vessels?

A lot of things involving the inland waterways (a.k.a. barge and towing) industry go under the radar of most people and news organizations because they directly affect a small constituency that most people don't think about.

The Bush administration wanted to replace the current diesel fuel tax on commercial vessels with a lockage tax, but the Congress rejected that idea. Now the Obama administration is reviving that idea.

Swimming in the Ohio River ... not a good idea

According to news reports in the past 24 hours, rescuers in two different places along the Ohio River were searching for bodies of probable drowning victims. Both victims had been swimming in the river.

When I was a youngster in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was not uncommon to hear my older siblings talk of swimming the river from Ohio to West Virginia and back. Nowadays they would wonder how foolish they were to attempt such a thing. Granted, the river is a bit different now. When they swan the river, it was a few feet lower because the Greenup Locks and Dam had not raised the normal pool three feet higher than what old Lock and Dam 27 kept it at. But people today still say the river is too dangerous for swimming.

I wouldn't know. I've not attempted it. While I like being on and along the river, and over it on a bridge, I've never been comfortable in it. You never know when the current will change or where the dropoff is.

A newspaper photographer I once worked with said he used to have to go down to the river every summer to watch people search for drowning victims. With the construction of public pools, fewer people swam in the river and drowned, he said. 

Around here, public pools are a threatened species today.

I feel for the families of the two people who are missing. And I hope the anguish they are going through is not repeated many times this summer.