Students plan to speak out in protection of local levees - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Students plan to speak out in protection of local levees

WOLF LAKE, IL (KFVS) -

Some young but informed voices will add to the conversation at an Army Corps of Engineers public hearing next week at Shawnee High School.

Many juniors and seniors at Shawnee High School say they plan to attend the meeting to voice their concerns about plans to construct additional wing dams in the Mississippi River.

"Me and my classmates and everyone else at Shawnee are trying to draw awareness and trying to get money to get people that live outside the floodplain to know what's really going on," said Aiden McMahan, a senior from Wolf Lake.

The students worry the new structures could increase the water level in the Mississippi and put additional stress on the aging levees that surround their homes and school district.

"The levee commissioners told us that we're in a U rating, or not satisfactory, I guess," said senior Justin Goodman. "They don't meet standards so it's hard to get the money to fix the problem. So we're trying to raise awareness and money to get out of that U rating."

The entire Shawnee High School District hugs the Mississippi River. It covers portions of three counties and stretches from Grand Tower to Thebes. The entire district sits in a floodplain.

The students have studied the issue extensively. They've written to politicians, presented their research to the Lt. Governor's Mississippi River Coordinating Council, and plan to make a short film in conjunction with SIU film students that they hope will go viral to spread their message beyond southern Illinois.

"It's pretty much to get the point across that we're wanting to save this area," said Shawnee senior Brylea Foutch. "It's not just some project we're doing, it's more than that."

The Students plan to attend the public hearing in the Shawnee High School Library on Wednesday, February 19 to share their concerns with the Army Corps of Engineers.

"What we propose is don't put anything else in until we're sure what's going to happen," said Shawnee alumna and current SIU student Haley Murphy. "I mean, we're messing with thousands of people's lives so we don't want to experiment on something. That isn't ethical."

The hearing begins with an open hours at 6 p.m. Plans for the proposed wing dams will be on display. A public comment period will start at 7 p.m.

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