Mayor Secures Icebreaker At Last Minute


The City of Vermilion has secured an ice breaking service for the 2020 season. The current high water levels make timely ice breaking essential to protect the residents and property along the Vermilion River.

“Our usual icebreaker, South Shore Dredge, did not submit a bid this season. They are usually our only bidder,” stated Mayor Jim Forthofer. “I made calls to the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Cleveland and Detroit and every port authority I know from Grand River to Toledo. No icebreakers were available.”

The Vermilion River provides unique challenges with a shallow draft, a break wall at the mouth, and low clearance under the (U.S.) 6 bridge. A high concentration of residents live along the river in both the Lagoons and Riverside Drive communities. Ice jams can cause extensive damage to property.

“Last January, the Vermilion Fire Department, with local assistance, had to rescue residents in the Riverside Drive area after a sudden thaw of 11 inches of snow and a frozen river,” stated the mayor.

Eventually, a bid was submitted from the original provider with additional costs due to the need to make upgrades requested by the United States Coast Guard.

“With riverside community support, council gave me approval to proceed with the contract,” said the mayor. “The icebreaker is now positioned in the river. It was a nail biter.”

Mayor Forthofer stated he will be looking into a passive alternative to icebreaking, in case the icebreaking resource is not available in the future.

The City of Vermilion secured a one-year contract for the icebreaker for approximately $59,000, around $33,000 more than the previous year.