Belgreen hosts boating safety class

By Bart Moss for the FCT

 

Belgreen High School hosted a boating safety class last week for anyone from local communities wanting to get their boating license to legally operate a vessel on Alabama waters.

“Whether it be fishing, inner tubing, swimming or just having a family picnic and enjoying the gorgeous view of the lake, any time spent at the lake with my family and friends is time well spent,” said Emily Blanton, former sponsor of the Belgreen Fishing team and coordinator of the class.

“With this said, too often I see people on the water doing stupid things and acting dangerously. It makes me furious,” Blanton said. “I love taking my daughter out on the lake, but it really bothers me when there are irresponsible and immature people on the water who don’t care about other people out there, and they put all our lives in danger. The marine police do a good job of patroling the lake when they can, but they can’t be on every lake every day. As a current teacher and as the former sponsor of the fishing team for the past six years, I have tried my hardest not only to educate young people about the importance of protecting and preserving our local waters but also to enforce the importance with our young people, so that we all can continue to experience and enjoy our lives at the lake.”

The Boating Safety Class was offered to educate both teenagers and adults about how to safely and lawfully enjoy Alabama waters. It was offered to anyone age 12 or older who was interested in obtaining an Alabama vessel operator license. While members of local high school fishing teams were expected to attend the class if they didn’t already have their vessel operator license, the class was open to any students or adults who had a desire to obtain a license for future use on the water.

The local schools with fishing teams promote water safety to the highest level and therefore expect all student anglers on their teams to obtain vessel operator licenses. Being members of the Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association also requires students on the team to have their vessel operator licenses to be able to run the trolling motor during tournaments. Student anglers can do this either by attending a boating safety class offered locally or by completing the course through their driver’s education class at school. This ensures that the student anglers have been properly educated about water safety and boating rules so that when they are on the water, with or without a boat captain, they will be safe and will know how to navigate properly.

The class was held by Marine Police Senior Trooper Pat Welton and was assisted by City of Russellville Lt. Brian Shackelford, who also works for BCDA.

“The boating safety class is offered each year, multiple times during the year. We usually offer it at Belgreen High School either early fall or early spring,” said Blanton. “Senior Trooper Pat Welton does an exceptional job of teaching the course.”

The class consisted of 15 students and one adult from Belgreen, Phil Campbell, East Franklin and Russellville. All 16 participants successfully completed the class and passed the tough 50 question exam, earning them their boating license. Participants were Skyler Butler, Trenton Shackelford, Brodie Vandiver, Alex Jarnigan, Sean LeMay, Johnathan Morgan, Angela Hill, Ashleigh Berry, Joshua Morgan, Kendric Baker, Carson Cox, Carson Mele, Micheal Mele, Kaitin Weeks, David Coffman and Trey Benford.

“I encourage everyone, even those mature-aged fisherman who have had their vessel operator license for many years, to attend one of these boating safety classes in the upcoming years to be refreshed on boating safety and to learn about new boating laws that have been passed in recent years,” Blanton said. “ And if you’ve never taken the time to enjoy a boat ride at sunset on one of our Bear Creek Lakes, you should. Memories made at the lake will last a lifetime.”

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