Saturday, April 25, 2015

In the news, 4/25/15

The future of a small sternwheeler in Marietta, Ohio, apparently depends on its owner paying back rent and securing insurance. Both are imminent, he says.


Two schools in the Cincinnati area will share a half million dollars for science research and education efforts, including on the Ohio River and its tributaries.


This is from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

   Nearly $5,000 -- up from $250 in just days --- is being offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for dumping as many as 20 dead dogs over a hillside in Hopewell.
   Police discovered the remains of about 15 to 20 dogs in various states of decay on a hillside between Route 51 and the Ohio River on Monday morning.

Something like this happened along the road where I live a few years ago. Dead dogs were dumped over the hill in a wooded area. The first thing we noticed was the smell, then the turkey vultures sitting on the guardrail. As far as I know, we never learned who dumped them, or why.


Abuse of prescription painkillers used to be a big topic here in my part of the Ohio Valley, but that was a few years ago. Authorities and drug companies made obtaining such pills harder, so now people are turning to heroin instead, and here in Huntington WV heroin overdoses are spiking.

USA Today did a story on heroin use this week, and for web art it used a photo of needles from an exchange program in Portsmouth, Ohio. I found this interesting because I was wondering a few days ago whatever happened to the situation in Portsmouth. It seems that three or four years ago, whenever a national or regional media organization did an article about prescription painkiller abuse, it sent a reporter and a photographer to Portsmouth. But that seems to have died down. Until this week.

Catch Up Week, Day 1: Accident at the Racine Locks and Dam

It wasn't what we wanted to see, but it gave us a good day nonetheless.

Two weeks ago, on Saturday, April 11, a Facebook friend (C.R. Neale) posted a message from the Corps of Engineers saying the Racine Locks and Dam had been shut down because a tow had broken up and some barges were missing and unaccounted for. It was early afternoon, and I was unsure whether it was worth my time to drive all the way up there from Huntington to see it. The locks were still closed on the next day, so Adam and I decided to take a look.

We went up the Ohio side, because the locks are on the West Virginia side. Thanks to security concerns after 9/11, the locks are fenced off from the public, so we would not be able to see anything on that side of the river. A couple of miles below the dam, an Ohio state road was covered by high water from the Ohio. I didn't want to go through it, but I saw a car with lower road clearance than mine go through with no problems, so why not?

In the bend below the dam, we saw the (a?) box end of barge AEP 128 …

... sticking out of the water with the Amherst Madison towboat Lucedale keeping watch. Ahead on up at the dam, the barge that had been stuck at Gate 3 (the third one over from the locks) had been removed. I got a few pictures of the dam and the hydropower plant in high water …

… and we went downstream to look at that nice riverfront park in the village of Racine. On the way down, I stood on a guardrail post so you can see the location of the sunken barge and the bend relative to the dam.

At my age, that’s not necessarily an easy accomplishment, getting up and down like that in a narrow space.

On the way down, we saw the Capt. James Anderson heading back up the river lightboat. We went to the park, and I got a few pictures of the Sporn and Mountaineer power plants. We figured we would go back up the river to see where the Anderson was going. The Anderson was moving slower, particularly as it got closer to the partially submerged barge. The Anderson went in the narrow area between the barge and the shore, and it looked like the Lucedale moved over to protect the barge from the Anderson's wake.

I wanted to see a couple of things in the area, so I drove up as far as Letart Falls and got a couple of pictures that I've posted on my Flickr account. But Adam, being a teenager, got bored easily and wanted to go home so he could see one of his friends. So we did. And what happened when we got home? The friend was somewhere else, and Adam gave me the teenager's lament, "I'm bored." I said I didn't want to hear it.

It was kind of like news media.The river was shut down at Racine, but it was on a weekend when no one is around to cover it, and it was not in a populated area, and it was just barge traffic, so who cares? They didn't want to hear it, either.

I'll go back up that way this spring or summer when I can spend a day. There's a lot to see in the upper end of the Gallipolis pool and in the Racine pool, particularly on the Ohio side. That is, if you like country over city. Some people would like to spend a weekend in Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. I myself like to explore the smaller communities few people have heard of. They have some interesting stories of their own. But that's me.