Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 07-10-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 27

16 THE VALLEY JULY 10-16, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Double the trouble: Volunteers clear blocked Pratt Dam Hope Global contributes to help prevent floods CUMBERLAND – Last year's heavy rains caused such high waters along the Blackstone River that vol- unteers were unable to get in the water at the Pratt Dam to remove the accumulated debris. That delay meant another year of dead trees and other debris would accumulate at the dam, which carries the Blackstone River Bikeway across the river behind Stop & Shop on Mendon Road in Cumberland. River advocates, who have been doing this labor of love for the past 18 years, staged an elaborate removal operation last Saturday, July 6, com- plete with safety ropes, chainsaws and a boat. Cyclists on the bike path stopped to take pictures of this impressive operation, a few dropping dollars into a collection bucket to help fund the ongoing efforts of the Blackstone River Watershed Council/ Friends of the Blackstone. Suzanne Matta, secretary of the BRWC/FOB, told The Breeze that Hope Global, a company further up the river where flooding has been a recurring issue, contributed money to the cleaning of the dam. "This will prevent upstream flood- ing of homes and businesses," she said. Two years of debris buildup meant a much more formidable job than ever before, said John Marsland, founder and president of the group and one of the "Valley Boys" who have cared for the Blackstone River like it's their own backyard. A project such as this takes immense resources, Matta said, including worker time, safety equip- ment, and chainsaws. In just a few minutes, three chainsaws had already broken down last Saturday. Frank Matta, Suzanne's husband and past president of the organiza- tion, was in the water last Saturday as logs were chopped up and thrown through the Pratt Dam, also known locally as "The Tubes." The entire Blackstone River is forced through these five tubes, and the Friends of the Blackstone has been clearing these tubes once each year for nearly two decades. Though less flooding is one benefit of the work, the initiative is mainly designed to promote river safety, said Matta. After two fatalities at this loca- tion involving novice paddlers in the past few years, the group installed buoys upstream and members main- tain that added safety feature. To guard against a potential tragedy during last Saturday's cleanout, those working the chainsaws had someone behind them holding onto their safety belt just in case. Pieces of the block- age were pulled out carefully, each wood chunk removed from the edges of the pile as water began flowing again at each of the tubes. Judy Hadley, a director with the BRWC/FOB and photographer at group events, said there is no entity or organization anywhere that com- mits the kind of volunteer resources this group does to maintaining public resources such as the river. "Nobody would do this, nobody in their right mind," she said. "These guys are amazing. The guts and nerve it must take to do that is beyond me." It took 10 to 12 men in the water nearly four hours to clear a wall of debris reaching 20 feet high, she said. Visit for more on the BRWC/FOB and its work. By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor Volunteers begin the process of clearing debris from the PRATT DAM along the Blackstone River last Saturday morning. BREEZE PHOTOS BY ROBERT EMERSON DAN MARSLAND, with the chain- saw, backs away quickly as the branch he just cut splashes into the Blackstone River as he partakes in the cleanup of Pratt Dam. The PRATT DAM after volunteers cleaned it up over the weekend. In your time of need, The Valley Breeze will print your loved one's full obituary for a small charge. The paper also places the obituary on our web site,, as soon as it is provided to us by your family's funeral director. Notification to friends and neighbors is also made weekdays on WOON-AM radio announcements. Should you desire our services, kindly inform your funeral director. The full charge is $90, or $125 for lengthy obituaries, in the edition of your choice. You may place the obituary in any of our other editions for $50 each. Thank you. OBITUARIES

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Valley Breeze - The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 07-10-2019