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Weekend safety stressed
Authorities on alert for holiday
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Forsyth County News


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The mid-week rescue of three kayakers from the Chattahoochee River has authorities emphasizing safety this Memorial Day weekend.

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said no injuries were reported in Wednesday’s incident as each person pulled from the water was wearing a safety vest.

He said the group was picked up by Forsyth County firefighters and taken to Settles Bridge Park, on the Gwinnett County side of the river. Gwinnett fire officials assisted.

This weekend signals the start of the busy summer season on the river, Lake Lanier and other state waterways.

Shivers warned that while outdoor temperatures may be warming up, the water is still “very, very cold.” He urged water-goers to use caution this holiday weekend.

“For the first time in several years we are beginning the summer lake season with Lake Lanier being at or near full pool,” he said. “The lake will be very busy and heavy boat traffic is expected lakewide.

“Please heed all boating rules and safety regulations and be alert for all types of recreation on or near the water.”

The lake’s level was at 1070.85 feet above sea level Thursday. That’s more than 6 feet higher than this time last year and slightly higher than full pool of 1,071.

Shivers suggested that people who don’t know to swim should stay out of the water. Swimmers and boaters should always wear safety vests.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, there were 158 boating accidents and 13 boating-related fatalities statewide in 2009, as well as 177 arrests for boating under the influence.

Authorities are also cautioning those who plan on traveling Georgia roads this weekend.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has kicked off its “Click It or Ticket” campaign and will conduct safety belt checkpoints statewide.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Capt. Frank Huggins said deputies will participate by holding unannounced safety checkpoints throughout the county.

“Our goal is to make sure that 100 percent of Forsyth County motorists are buckled up for safety,” Huggins said. “In addition, our safety checkpoints also serve other purposes, such as intercepting motorists who have been drinking and driving.”

He said sheriff’s office personnel will be “highly visible” in parks on Lake Lanier.

“We will have our mounted patrol and bicycle patrol in the parks to ensure a safe holiday for everyone,” he said.

The office will also have two patrol boats and two personal watercrafts on the lake over the weekend.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is cautioning motorists to expect delays on heavily traveled roads.

“We expect a very busy travel weekend,” said DOT Commissioner Vance Smith. “Traffic congestion on Thursday and Friday will be heavier than normal, with rush hour beginning as early as 1 p.m. in high-volume areas.”

Those roads include both directions of Ga. 400, Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County, the top end of I-285 and Atlanta’s downtown connector.

The DOT is suspending construction-related lane closures on all interstates and major state routes from 5 a.m. today until 10 p.m. Monday.