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Driftboat sinking spurs safety tips

After a driftboat capsized in the upper Rogue Tuesday, with two men having to scramble to safety, Jackson County marine deputies are warning boaters to beware of new navigation obstacles this winter.

Marine deputies say a combination of an inexperienced oarsman and an overhanging branch contributed to the mishap adjacent to an island upstream of the Dodge Bridge boat ramp at Highway 234.

The boat struck a tree and an oar popped out of its oar lock, then a shift in weight in the boat caused it to list and take on water, marine patrol Sgt. Shawn Richards said. The boat sank quickly and the men made it to the island, where they were rescued, Richards said.

While Richards said the oarsman's inexperience contributed, the ever-changing river can throw curveballs at even the most experienced rowers.

"You know how dynamic this river can be," Richards says.

A private contractor removed the boat Wednesday, and Richards cut out the obstruction.

The stretch of the upper Rogue where the accident occurred is very fluid, with mounds of gravel regularly moving and creating new passageways through it, Richards says.

Marine deputies warn boaters to scout potential hazards before navigating them, wear your life jacket and carry your cellphone in a waterproof casing in a pocket, and not just have it in the boat. If you need help, dial 911 instead of calling a friend or family member.

Marine Board taps Warren for new director

The Oregon State Marine Board has named Larry Warren as head of the state's agency overseeing boating, guides and outfitters.

Warren, a 17-year state employee who most recently worked in the Department of Administrative Services, begins his new job Monday. He was picked from a pool of four finalists, Marine Board spokeswoman Ashley Massey says.

Warren describes himself as an avid boater on the ocean and inland waterways, so it was a natural move for him to jump across Salem to the Marine Board from DAS, where he was the enterprise shared services director, overseeing technical services to all state agencies.

"I'm a life-long Oregon boater, and I've had a lot of interest in the agency and the people it serves," Warren says. "When the job came open, I was really excited to apply for it."

Oregon has about 170,000 boats and 2,800 floating homes, houseboats and boat houses under Marine Board jurisdiction. The agency has a budget of just under $17 million a year, with boat registration, titles and other fees accounting for almost half of that. The Marine Board's largest expense is law enforcement, under which it contracts with county sheriff's departments for dedicated marine patrols.

Since getting out of the Army at age 22, the 41-year-old Warren has worked exclusively in state government. His previous posts were at Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Revenue and Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.