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New life rings promote safety along Lake Michigan in Racine

Dedicated in memory of fallen Officer Hetland
Posted at 2:44 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 17:43:24-04

RACINE — Racine’s South Pier along Lake Michigan just got a little safer after a local group of fisherman purchased, donated and installed five brand new life rings, saving the county and its taxpayers thousands of dollars.

“There have been incidents over the years of people falling in,” Scott Poplawski said.

Scott Poplawski is a board member of Salmon Unlimited, and the editor of the club's newsletter. He said last year during one of the group’s largest fundraisers, Salmon-O-Rama, someone fell into the lake but was fortunate enough to pull himself to safety. His hope is the life rings prompt people to be more cautious along the pier.

“Someone on shore will be able to open up the cabinet and throw in a life ring," Poplawski. "It has a 50-foot floating waterproof rope attached."

Poplawski says the rings have been dedicated in honor of Officer John Hetland, who was killed intervening in an armed robbery earlier this week.

At roughly $400 a pop —Poplawski and his crew spent about $2,000 to buy the life rings. Their goal is to also purchase and install five life rings on North Pier after it undergoes reconstruction.

Julie Anderson, the County’s Public Works Director — said this gift not only saves the county and taxpayers money, but it could also save a life.

“With the water levels higher on Lake Michigan and possibly at the highest levels they’ve ever been, the waters deeper," she said. "[There are] rocks underneath the surface here and if somebody goes in could be very difficult for them to get out."

And if the donations weren’t enough, Salmon Unlimited has also agreed to pay for any maintenance or upkeep, and even replace the life rings as needed.