TECUMSEH – U.S. Congressman Jason Smith (MO-08) recently announced work has commenced to remove a 290-foot section of the 420-foot wide dam at historic Dawt Mill located on the North Fork River in Ozark County. With the support of Representative Smith, Delta Regional Authority (DRA) awarded the Dawt Missouri Preservation Society $86,625 in November 2016 for the project.
“After bringing federal, state and local agencies together in July 2016 to formulate a plan to improve public safety along one of Missouri’s frequently visited waterways, I am proud to announce that work has commenced to remove an unsafe section of the Dawt Mill dam less than eight months from our initial discussion,” said Congressman Smith. “I am thankful to all involved for the efforts taken to bring good from a tragic situation.”
On June 25, 2016, 13-year-old Chloe Butcher from Springfield fell into the North Fork River and became trapped in a breached section of the Dawt Mill dam. She later drowned.
“During my meeting with the Missouri Highway Patrol, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, DRA, local elected officials and property owners, I requested that the permit process to remove the damaged section be expedited,” said Smith. “I also strongly conveyed that the protection of the Ozark Hellbender salamander found in the Endangered Species Act should not be prioritized above public safety. Quick action was needed to prevent further tragedy.”
Federal and state officials coordinated efforts to ensure that plans to remove the breached section of the dam moved swiftly. “In July, the Army Corps of Engineers assured me of an expedited review process of any permit requests related to the dam, and DRA explored investment opportunities through its programs aimed at improving public safety,” said Smith. “DRA later awarded the Dawt Missouri Preservation Society funding to assist with the removal.”
“Projects such as this were the reason Congress established DRA in 2000,” said Smith. “It makes sense to reinvest our tax dollars back into our communities in southcentral and southeast Missouri to improve public infrastructure and local economic development. In this case, these resources will make a positive difference for those to live, work, and visit one of our most pristine waterways.”
DRA works directly with Congress to identify priorities throughout the 252 counties which make up the Delta Region. In Missouri’s Eighth Congressional district, 29 of the 30 counties qualify for DRA investments.
“I am thankful for the responsiveness of all agencies involved to improve safety measures as a result of this heartbreaking situation,” said Smith. “Missouri’s waterways will be safer for their efforts.”