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Heavy boat traffic expected this weekend

As temperatures continue to rise and sweat begins to drip, folks are ready to make a big splash in Marengo County’s surrounding lakes and rivers. As Memorial Day approaches, residents will look forward to their first three-day weekend of the summer and get their boats ready for a big time on the water.

Brandon Davis, of the Corps of Engineers, said, the weather permitting, every boat ramp in the area will be around full capacity.

“The slips will be full,” he said. “The large increase is just because the weather is warm enough for skiing and swimming in the river.”

While he doesn’t foresee any uncontrollable stress added to the weekend, he does hope boaters take the proper measures to stay safe and play by the rules.

“Mostly we just ask people to be safer and more cautious,” he said. “If you’re getting boats out for the first time, make sure your stickers are up to date. Pay attention to what’s going on in the surrounding areas. Things usually go smoothly.”

Smith said Demopolis should look forward to a nice bump economically thanks to the Memorial Day weekend, when people are eager to hit the water and live it up.

“It’s usually a big increase,” Smith said. “We get people from East Mississippi. Everyone’s gassing up, and our lunch crowds see an increase as well.

Marine Police officer Thomas Bobo said he will step up his efforts for the holiday weekend thanks to the likely increased amount of vessel traffic.

Bobo said he expects a substantial increase in pleasure boaters coming out for the weekend to officially start the summer season.

“Memorial Day kicks off the summer,” Bobo said. “It’s the first holiday summer weekend, and it really starts our busy season, on the weekends especially. From Memorial Day to Labor Day is usually our peak time. We should be pretty steady until Labor Day.”

Bobo doesn’t think the high volume of boaters should put too much stress on the river. He said while it can certainly get congested with any increased amount of vessel traffic, especially on a small river, it shouldn’t cause any considerable worries. But he’s happy to see people out of their houses and on the water if not just to keep him on the go.

“I’m ready for it to pick up,” Bobo said. “There’s not a lot of traffic in the winter. It’s just now picking up, so it’s giving me something to do.”

Smith is happy to know Bobo and other conservation officers will keep a sharp eye this weekend to ensure everyone enjoys themselves in a manner minus any unnecessary danger.

He said the Corps of Engineers will have a boat out on the water as well just to be safe.

“We’re going to try and do some courtesy vessel inspections,” Smith said. “We will check stuff out to make sure people have what they need beforehand.”