Can one man make a difference?

Can one man make a difference?

Johnny Alles, who lives on Horseshoe Bend, stood alone most of Friday near Bagnell Dam bearing two signs: Save the Larry Don and Don’t Let Them Scrap the Larry Don. While several people have stopped or honked their support, no one had chosen to join him as of early in the afternoon.

“I’ve grown to appreciate the value of the Larry Don,” Alles said.

As owner of High Performance Marine at the lake, Alles said he’s had the opportunity to work on the Larry Don and the Commander.

“I don’t think the new owners of the boat see the value,” he offered.

Alles said he spent most of Thursday making calls to local media and spreading the word on social media. While he seems to have a lot of support, he isn’t sure it will make a difference. A salvage company from St. Louis was on-site Wednesday, indicating it would take them less than a couple of days to reduce the iconic vessel to a pile of metal once they get the go-ahead.

He said the owners of Beavers had good intentions when they bought the boat to restore it and make it part of the restaurant’s attraction. But this year’s harsh winter has taken its toll not only on the Larry Don but other boats around the lake.

Alles said there were plans a few years ago to restore both the Larry Don and Commander, but nothing ever happened.

A local attorney is attempting to form a charitable organization that would accept donations for possibly buying the vessel and “do anything with it other than scrap it,” Alles said. “My intent is to raise awareness of what might happen if something isn’t done.”

It’s a financial situation for the owners, Alles said, who have spent several thousands of dollars cleaning up the small fuel and oil spill that resulted when the boat sank.

Anyone interested in helping “Save the Larry Don” can possibly catch him on the scene, or call him at 573-216-4151.