i keep thinking the rain will stop so i can take mollie for a run, but now i’m not sure sure that’s going to happen.  she will be very sad about that, but right now she is resting nicely.  it’s very quiet around here, actually; chester emerged from the hot tub room this morning, where he’s recuperating from his front claws de-clawing.  he and lester played for a while, but then chester wanted some quiet time alone in the hot tub room, so lester was forced to TEAR AROUND THE HOUSE LIKE A CRAZY KITTY, zooming over the top of the couch, bounding over mollie who was not amused, and generally being full of all his les paul energy.

i got this e-mail from a long-time reader – i was excited to hear that somebody besides aunt sandy (and randy, of course, plus kevin, which goes without saying) is a long time reader –

True story:  As a young girl, I found a rod and reel in
Lake Springfield, brought it home, hosed it off, and used it for

It’s probably too late for your clip-on sunglasses, but if anything
like that ever happens again, you might want to call SUSART.  My
daughter lost her glasses in the lake this summer, called SUSART, and
they went out the next day and found them.  Amazing.

I have no affiliation with these people, but here’s their information:

SUSART (Non-Emergency) If it’s lost in the lake, call SUSART         529-5191


who knew?  who is susart???? why do they look for things?  do they charge?  would they really be able to find my clip-0ns?  i mean, of course they wouldn’t be able to find them now because i’m sure they’ve been buried under all the mud and gunk, but it would be hard to find them.

ok, i decided to spend the three seconds necessary for looking up susart online.  it’s the SPRINGFIELD UNDERWATER SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM, of course, and they do it for free, but ask for donations.  you should read this article, because it’s fascinating.  they’ve found many things including an engagement ring and a bowling ball.

this is good, because sometimes when i’m swimming in the lake i get an irrational fear that somehow my wedding rings are going to slip off my fingers and sink to the bottom.  i can put that fear to rest knowing that somebody could find them!

SUSART has searched area waters for 50 years

By JOHN REYNOLDS (john.reynolds@sj-r.com)


Posted Nov 09, 2010 @ 11:30 PM

They’ve searched for drowning victims, criminal evidence and everything from jewelry to sunken boats and trains that have been lost underwater.

For 50 years, the divers of the Springfield Underwater Search and Rescue Team have been answering the call for help.

“If it’s worth something to you, we’ll look for it,” said Chatham resident John Kopatz, who was on the team during most of the 1970s.

Perfect safety record

SUSART was organized in 1960 by a group of local diving enthusiasts. It was, and still is, a nonprofit community service group dedicated to providing underwater search and recovery service. Even when looking for lost items, the team doesn’t charge for its services.

They do, however, ask for donations.

From the beginning, the team has specialized in black-water diving. That means relying on their sense of touch in pitch-black conditions. They’ve searched in everything from flooded drainage ditches to Lake Springfield to rivers. Most of their calls come during the summer, but they have also dived in the winter.

Jim Kopec of Springfield, current commander of the group, said the team has maintained a perfect safety record.

“It’s dangerous work,” Kopec said. “I will say this with pride: We have no accidents or injuries in the 50 years we have been doing this because of our training.”

Zero visibility

Jim Hoover, 70, a Springfield resident and member of the team since 1965, explained that if a person in a lighted room were to close his or her eyes, the brownish-black is similar to what a SUSART diver sees.

“Once you get to the bottom and start searching, you stir up the silt. It’s almost like a mushroom cloud. Then, it turns totally black, depending on where you are and how deep you are,” he said.

Flashlights are useless, and lighted gauges are unreadable. Team members tested an illuminated air-tank gauge once, but all they could see was a pale glow when they put the gauge right up to their face masks.
When working in pitch-black conditions, the divers navigate by touch, using ropes to help them search.

One search method involves a diver sitting at the bottom of a body of water, holding a rope. Another diver has the other end of the rope and swims in a circle. After each complete revolution, the stationary diver lets out a little more rope, which allows the other diver to widen the search area and cover new ground.

The divers also tug on the ropes to send messages to each other.

Gender barrier broken

Nadine Hayward, 51, of Sherman remembers the rope signals well.

She was a member of the team from around 1989 to 2003. She was the first, and so far only, female SUSART diver.

Hayward said she was invited to join the team by one of the members, but when she showed up for her first meeting, the man hadn’t told everyone that he’d recruited a woman.

“I think a lot of them were stunned when I walked in. It was kind of quiet,” Hayward said. “But, after the first dive or two, they saw that I carried my own gear and pulled my weight. They realized I wasn’t going to ask for any special treatment and was going to do the job just like them.”

Hayward left the group when she became a mother. She said it was a hard decision, but being on call 24 hours a day was difficult when she was home alone with the baby.

Last month, Hayward attended a reunion of current and former SUSART divers. She realized then the bond she’d formed with the other team members was still very strong.

“It’s like a family. You literally put your life in somebody else’s hands. You learn to trust each other. You know that guy on the top will come down and get you if there’s a problem,” Hayward said.

Three dive teams now

When it started, the Springfield Underwater Search and Rescue Team was the only dive team in the area.
They searched for local drowning victims and were often called to other communities.

Kopatz remembers looking for the body of a young boy in Arthur, which is east of Decatur, back in the ’70s. He said the whole town turned out and made sure the rescuers had everything they needed.

“I had never seen so much food in all my life,” he said. “The town was overwhelmed that people would come from such a distance to help in that kind of situation, for someone they didn’t know.”

Later in the year, SUSART and other rescue teams were invited back to Arthur. The town wanted to thank them for their hard work.

“They took up a collection and tried to give us a bucket of money. We told them we couldn’t accept the money and ask them to give it to the family or wherever to best help the town,” Kopatz said.

Since the creation of SUSART 50 years ago, the Sangamon County Rescue Squad and the Springfield Fire Department have started their own dive teams. The rescue squad’s team dates to the 1980s, and the fire department’s became operational around 2001.

Nowadays, the rescue squad handles most of the calls involving drowning victims in Sangamon County. But if the need arises, SUSART is available to help.

Volunteers needed

On average, SUSART is called out about two or three times a month during the summer. In addition to searching for lost items, they inspect areas to make sure they are safe for swimming or boat traffic.
There are eight members on the team, and senior members are hoping to recruit more volunteers.

Hoover is still diving, but said he is trying to “phase himself out” due to his age.

“I really enjoy the team, Hoover said. “The team has given a lot to me, and I want to give back. By working with the team. I’m doing something for someone else that they can’t do for themselves.”

John Reynolds can be reached at 788-1524.

Some SUSART searches

The Springfield Underwater Search and Rescue Team has looked for a lot of lost items over its 50-year history. The basic philosophy of the group is that if it has value to someone, they’ll look for it.

John Kopatz, a former member, recalled that one of the more unusual items they searched for was a lost bowling ball in Lake Springfield.

“This guy had been in a bowling tournament in St. Louis and had done bad,” Hoover said. “As he was crossing the bridge, he decided it was the ball that caused him the grief, so he heaved it over the bridge. After a while, he decided it wasn’t the ball’s fault, so we went out and looked for it.”

The SUSART divers were able to find the ball, but the cold water had caused it to crack.

Other items recovered by the team have included engagement rings, hearing aids and a set of false teeth lost by a skier in Lake Springfield.

The team also searched for a prosthetic eye, but they weren’t able to find it.

“The success of any dive is based on several factors. Number one, it’s based on the person who loses an item. If they don’t know where they were at when they lost it, we aren’t going to find it. It’s just that simple,’ Hoover said.

— John Reynolds
Want to help?

The Springfield Underwater Search and Rescue Team would like to get a new building to house its equipment, which includes a truck and boats.

Team members have been looking at possible sites, including on Lake Springfield.

“It would be nice if we had some property on the lake where we could put our boat in the water there and not have to worry about a lot of things,” said Jim Kopec, a Springfield resident and current commander of the group. “That would be better for us equipment-wise.”

Kopec added that the team appreciates all the people who have helped with donations and fundraisers through the years.

Anyone who wants to help SUSART can send donations to: Springfield Underwater Search and Rescue Team; 3155 Fox Bridge Road; Springfield, IL 62703.

For more information on fundraisers, call 529-5191.

Copyright 2010 The State Journal-Register. Some rights reserved

two cute kitty photos to help you get through the rest of your monday:

yeah, that one was clearly adorable, but you know les only stayed like that for about two seconds, tops.  sometimes he does stay under a blanket but if somebody is around, he JUST WANTS TO PLAY.

ok then,

mrs. monday afternoon hughes.