Hope Begins to Shine Through the Grand Tower Levee

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By Hilary LeHew
By Andy Shofstall

GRAND TOWER -- Things are starting to look up for flood protection in a Jackson County community. 

Grand Tower sits at the junction of the Mississippi and Big Muddy Rivers, so high water is always a threat. One section of its levee, along the Big Muddy, has been a problem for years now.
 
"You know, it ain't real warm out here today, but we're doing what we can do," insisted Mayor Mike Ellet on Wednesday.
 
For Ellet, work along the Big Muddy Levee is more than just a temporary fix; it's an example of what not giving up looks like.
 
"That's part of living in Grand Tower," said Ellet. He was speechless when asked about his town's change of luck.
 
A crew spent the morning removing the rusty pipe that collapsed last June. "We're going to pack that back full of dirt, then bring that rock back over that to cover that and that's more or less going to be a patch," Ellet explained.
 
When the river falls this spring, new pipes, paid for by $25,000 donated by the Jackson County board, will go back into the levee. "That was a big shot in the arm," said Ellet. "We thank all the board members."
 
Thanks to a handful of volunteers, donating their time, money, and equipment, work to repair the failing levee is finally underway. "Then we've dug the ditch to drain this water out on the other side," Ellet added.
 
Meanwhile, Senator Dave Luechtefeld and Representative Mike Bost are urging lawmakers to reinstate an expired bond worth $1.6 million dollars that the county passed in 1994.
 
"This is the fastest way that we can get the money available to do these repairs," insisted Bost. "We believe that if we get this passed as of early July, they would have the money in hand and the repairs can start as long as the levee is dry enough to be worked on."
 
All this, just a day after the Army Corps of Engineers told the community it will only help if there's an emergency.
 
"They say never say never, and you know, we're a long ways from being out of the woods, we've got a lot more problems, but we're staying on top of it," added Ellet.
 
In the meantime, the community will continue to raise its own money with a chili supper at the Grade School on Saturday, Feb. 8.
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