"River rats" wrestle dumpster out of the Grand River

10:37 PM, Jul 15, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The dumpster that washed into the Grand River during the spring flood is now out.

"We've got our river back to normal again," says Keith Brown.

On Monday afternoon, Brown and buddy Wade Baumgardner wrestled the two-ton trash container from its resting place near the Bridge Street Bridge to the rocky shore along Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

Last April, the bright blue trash container floated down from Riverside Park and was in prominent view in one of the most scenic sections in downtown Grand Rapids.

Brown and Baumgardner, who call themselves "river rats," decided to do something about it.

"Look down from the bridge and see a dumpster in the middle of the river," says Baumgardner. "It's an eyesore. We didn't want anyone looking at our city like it was trash, so we decided to come down and get it out."

The two men say they grew up fishing and swimming in the river so they know it's secrets. "We know every hole," says Brown. "We have fished every hole."

They used a bucket to bail out the water in the dumpster, and then, once it was floating, they wrestled and steered it about a quarter mile down river onto rocks by the Ford Presidential Museum.

"I tell you, it isn't like steering a boat," laughs Baumgardner. "You use muscles you didn't know you had."

Once they did the hard part, a wrecker with a boom picked up the container and took it away.

"We are very appreciative for their efforts," says tom Mahoney of Republic Services, owner of the container. "We are glad nobody got hurt and glad we could get it out. They did a great job."

"As lovers of the river and lovers of our city, it's awesome to get the dumpster out of river," says Brown. "We just went out there with a bucket. Two men and a bucket, that's all we had. Once we started we didn't stop and we did it. It's gone now."

Brown and Baumgardner say they are always pulling different things out of the river. Last year they say they recovered and recycled 40,000 pounds of steel from the water, including a motorcycle.

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