Nixon's plan to combine Hwy, Water Patrols won't mean job losses

By Tyler Profilet - bio | email

WAPPAPELLO, MO (KFVS) - Memorial Day is just two weeks away and while Lake Wappapello is empty now, it won't be like that in a couple of weeks.

The Missouri Water Patrol expects as many as 100,000 visitors to the lake.  With so many people out on the water, safety is paramount.

Just in time for the holiday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's plan would merge the agency that patrols the state's rivers and lakes with the state highway patrol.

Nixon says merging the Water Patrol with the state Highway Patrol will help save millions of dollars and he says those savings won't mean job cuts.

That means the folks who will be patrolling the water this Memorial Day will be able to get their message across.

"The life jacket is the one thing that can save your life," said patrolman David Nelson.  "We do stop boats without enough life jackets, improperly fitting life jackets, if they're not serviceable like ripped or torn. So if they get in an emergency situation, it's not going to help them out."

Despite the governor's plan, Nelson will still be able to target those people who break the law -- by drinking and operating a boat.

At a time when major boating accidents are up from this time last year,

"Alcohol will affect you three times faster on water than it does on land due to the boating stressors. The heat, the waves, the rocking of the boat, and the vibrations," he said.

The Water Patrol says despite budget cuts, water patrol levels will be at the same level as they were last year.

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