The last time Logan County Emergency Management Agency director Dan Fulscher issued a warning about the dangers of Salt Creek to the Logan County Board, he was in the same body of water searching for a missing person within a week of his speech.
A six-day search came to an unfortunate end, when Waynesville resident Adam Stapleton was found in a logjam in Salt Creek, four days after Fulscher spoke to the board about the dangers of traversing the waters in its current conditions without a motorized boat. Stapleton’s kayak tipped over just north of Polecat Bridge, while kayaking with a group of friends, and was not seen again until the recovery of his body.
Fulscher again approached the Logan County Board Thursday to warn about Salt Creek’s current conditions.
“We are 2.5 feet higher than the Stapleton incident … two feet over flood stage,” said Fulscher, referring to Salt Creek’s water levels. “With the rain this weekend, we’ll be well above flood stage.
“I request anything without a motor to stay off the waterway.”
Fulscher said he has been in contact with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and if he contacts them about hazardous water conditions, the agency will likely close off access to the area.
The EMA director said his agency received its 27th water rescue call in 36 months.
“That’s more than Clinton Lake and Lake Springfield combined,” said Fulscher.
The incident occurred when a “young lady” mishandled a curve on Illinois Route 54 and drove her vehicle into a pond. Fulscher said the woman made out of the pond just fine, but the car did not.
Out of the number of calls Fulscher has received in the way of water rescues, 12 of those incidents have required EMA rescue assistance, while four have resulted in deaths. The others made it out safely without the assistance of an EMA crew.
Besides discussing the waterways at the board meeting, Fulscher threw some fire talk into the mix, addressing Middletown’s recent issues with burning illegal garbage. According to Fulscher, Middletown residents received a letter from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency outlining what is illegal to burn. According to multiple residents and officials, Middle-town has been burning illegal – and health hazardous – items for several years. Now that residents are aware of what they can legally burn, which amounts to just natural yard waste, violators will be forced to stop this long-standing practice.
“We don’t want or condone illegal burning,” said Fulscher. “You can be fined, or arrested … if you continue, we intend to do that.”
Fulscher said after two warnings, an arrest will be the following step. It may also be coupled with a hefty fine from the IEPA. This agency can charge $1,500 for every single illegal item being burned. Fulscher wants to also make it clear that the practice of using burn barrels – even for burning yard waste – simply will not continue.
On the flip side of Fulscher’s warning, he also urged residents to not be too quick to pick up the phone whenever they see smoke in the air.
“If we’re getting 20 to 30 calls for (things you can legally burn), it’s just going to circumvent the system the other way,” said Fulscher. “… Give it some time. You absolutely have the right to clean air … if smoke goes straight up, it’s not illegal.”