Raise the Lake!
2012's drought caused Lake DePue to be 2 feet too shallow , according to insurance companies associated with the race. The DePue Men's Club depends on the races, which draw over 20,000, as its main fundraiser. With the proceeds, they in turn support the community.
Eric Bryant, Mayor of DePue, and the Men's Club devised a plan, and put it into action. They got the necessary permission to build a dam, and pump water from the Illinois River back into the Lake. All this with only Men's Club members, volunteers in DePue and neighboring communities, and several generous donors willing to commit resources like tractors, heavy equipment, time, and expertise.
The races aren't Lake DePue's only story. It sits on the 14th largest EPA Superfund site in the United States. For over 15 years, DePue and its residents have waited for Exxon/Mobil & Viacom (owners of the plant site) and the EPA to fix the damage that a former zinc smelting and fertilizer plant left. Although solutions have been presented to the former owners, they have fallen on deaf ears as they are not quick or inexpensive fixes.
Local government and a citizens action group continue to fight, though. Just as they are fighting to keep their beloved races.
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Central Il Proud
Bureau County Republican