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As renovations wrap up, officials unsure of use for hatchery facility

TUPELO — Officials say they’re about halfway through $1.2 million in renovations at the Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Tupelo, but have not yet decided how to use the Victorian-era house there once the work is done.

It might be used to house state or federal workers or for hatchery volunteers, or it might be rented out, project leader Ricky Campbell told The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Once the decision’s made, the work will move quickly, Campbell said. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has “electricians and carpenters and equipment people,” he said. “We’ve just got a cadre of skilled employees who can come in and get the work done.”

The work started in 2010. Improvements also included building new administrative offices. Campbell said the old office building now holds incubators for snapping turtle eggs and eventually will be torn down because of asbestos and structural problems.

The hatchery has a new well, and several fish ponds have new concrete areas that make it easier to remove fish.

A covered classroom is planned, with a fenced-in area where people can see alligators, turtles and fish in a pond just behind the office. “It’ll be a watchable wildlife area,” Campbell said. “The part below the platform will look like a swamp.”

The wish list for the future involves a plan to purchase a 100-acre piece of property at the southeast edge of the hatchery.

“We want to create a wildlife area, an urban refuge inside Tupelo,” Campbell said. “We’ve been talking about it for several years. There’s some support for it.”

The hatchery is open 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. “This hatchery has been serving since 1901 simply because we have community support,” Campbell said. “That’s important to us.”


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