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Deputies spending holiday weekend on Rock River enforcing boater safety

By Margo Spann, mspann@wisctv.com
Published On: Jul 04 2013 07:37:06 PM CDT

BELOIT, Wis. -

Rock County residents spending the holiday boating are sharing the water with sheriff's deputies.

Deputy Matthew Pyne and his partner, Deputy Nick Brown, will spend most of the holiday out on the water.

Pyne and Brown will be citing intoxicated boaters and doing boat safety checks.

John Schueler is spending the Fourth of July in one of his favorite places -- coasting down the Rock River on his boat.

Schueler lives on the river and said it's good to see the deputies out enforcing the slow, no-wake ordinance.

"Be responsible, do the right thing," said Schueler. "It's very frustrating, because I see my shoreline disappearing everyday."

The deputies are primarily making sure boats have the necessary safety equipment, including a fire extinguisher and enough life jackets for everyone on board.

"We're not out here to ruin anyone's Fourth of July. We're out here for boater safety,” said Pyne. “People can still go out there and have a good time today, just not as fast as they'd like to go.”

They are advising boaters who want to catch waves to find a spot other than the river.

"They can still go out, use their pontoon, and pull tubes behind the boat. If they want to venture from this area to the lake, the lake is open,” said Pyne. “They can have fun on the lake all day long. There's no slow, no-wake issues. It's just the river that's impacted by the high water."

For residents living on the water, there has to be a balance so future generations can enjoy the water.

"Part of responsible boating is respecting what we have in front of us and that's the ecology of the lake and river. Once that ecology goes away, you're left with a big hot mess,” said Pyne.

Pyne said once the water levels decrease, the slow, no-wake order will likely be lifted. Pyne anticipates the order could be lifted in Beloit later this week and the rest of the river next week, but it all depends on Mother Nature.

Boating citations don't go against your driver’s license but multiple violations can add up. Boaters can be cited for anything from not enough safety equipment to having an overloaded boat, and each ticket will run you around $160 each.

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