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Illinois hunting and fishing

Woman never tires of promoting Meredosia

February 15, 2011 at 08:02 PM

The State Journal-Register

MEREDOSIA—Health problems might keep Dora Dawson home, but they won’t stop her from promoting Meredosia and its connection to the Illinois River.

Dawson, who turns 80 years old soon, is helping organize an eagle-watching event this weekend along with the other members of the Meredosia Historical Society.

She won’t be able to attend because she is home recovering from a fall and a broken hip.

And that is on top of knee problems that have limited her mobility.

“I probably won’t be there, but I will be in spirit,” she said.

On Saturday, guided bus tours will be offered at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Buses will leave from the Meredosia Public Library on Illinois 104.

Meredosia is west of Jacksonville and north of Interstate 72, just over an hour from Springfield.

“The trip will start at the library and probably go to the riverfront first, because that’s where the most eagles are,” Dawson said.

A volunteer with a spotting scope will be stationed on the riverfront.

Scopes also will be available at two stops within the Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge.

After driving through the refuge, the bus will circle around and come back into Meredosia and cross the river.

The bus will take eagle watchers through the bottomlands along the west side of the river and to the LaGrange Lock and Dam.

The cost of the tour is $5 per person.

A short pre-tour educational film, hot drinks and donuts will be available. Maps are available for those who want to go on their own.

On Sunday, the Illinois Raptor Center from Decatur will present a live “birds of prey” program at Meredosia-Chambersburg High School starting at 2 p.m.  Admission is $5. Kids six and under are free.

A few years ago, Dawson fought to keep the town’s river museum open, but it closed due to lack of funds following the town’s 175th anniversary celebration in 2007.

Despite some health setbacks, including a stroke, and the difficulty of keeping the museum going, Dawson never gave up on the potential of Meredosia to draw visitors interested in the river and its history.

The museum remains closed, she said. However, it is expected to be open when the weather moderates this spring.

“I was sitting home stewing about the museum being closed, so I decided to take the bull by the horns,” she said. “I thought that we’d just have eagle watching.”

Want to go?

Eagles on the Illinois River, Feb. 19-20

9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Feb. 19: Guided bus tours leave from the Meredosia Public Library on Illinois 104. The cost is $5.

2 p.m. Feb. 20: Live raptor show will be held at Meredosia-Chambersburg High School on Illinois 104. Admission is $5.

For more information, call 584-1356 or 491-7110.

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