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      AuTrain River subsides

      The AuTrain River in Alger County is flowing freely, but starting five days ago, it was blocked and the water was rising.

      Dean Seaberg's excavator and Mother Nature were able to drop the AuTrain River water level four feet.

      The AuTrain Township Board, Friday night, decided something had to be done to prevent people's basements, homes, and cottages from filling up with water.

      "This right here is only a temporary answer; if you have to do it on a repeat basis every year or every other year, you're just throwing money away," said Millard Fillmore, AuTrain's Township Supervisor.

      The township has a state permit allowing the removal of 90 cubic yards of sand a day. But with recent strong winds out of the northeast and plenty of waves, the sand was being forced right back into the river's mouth.

      The AuTrain River has had a history of problems. It empties into Lake Superior further east than it once did. In 1965, the riverbed was straightened; then in May 1986, an ice jam formed and they had to blast the river to get it flowing again. A year later, they dredged it, and in 2005, they dredged it again.

      "The project is twofold," said Alger County Board member Jerry Doucette. "Number one is to dredge the river out and relieve the pressure, helping the health and welfare of this community."

      If the river flow comes to a halt, the water has to to go somewhere, and it goes into basements, floods out homes, and also compromises septic tanks.

      "Once we get this resolved here, then we can figure on what we can do for the long-term plan," Doucette commented.

      The river is always changing. Seventy-two feet from the bank lies M-28, and at one time there was another 100 feet of sand before you hit water. Saturday's dredging solved the problem. The river is back to normal, but for how long?

      Everyone agrees a permanent solution is needed or Dean Seaberg will be back scooping sand.

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