By Lena Mitchell | NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
TISHOMINGO – Officials are taking a new approach to find a sponsor and funding to reopen the former Crow’s Neck Environmental Education Center.
Northeast Mississippi Community College President Johnny Allen told college trustees earlier this week that state legislators are poised to sponsor a bill that would put funding for the facility in the appropriation for the Mississippi Department of Education, which would assume financial responsibility for the facility.
The state agency would work in partnership with Northeast, which previously operated the facility and would take part in facility operations again.
“Plans are at the ground level right now,” said state Rep. Bubba Carpenter, in whose district the facility is located. Carpenter said he talked earlier this week with state Superintendent of Education Dr. Tom Burnham, and “he seemed to be real interested.”
Carpenter hopes to bring Burnham and Allen together within the next couple of weeks to discuss details of how the center would function and how they would work together to run it. The Corps of Engineers which owns the property also is receptive to this new venture, he said.
“I’ll get them together in Jackson and get a bill drafted in the House and Senate where the state Department of Education assumes responsibility for the money for Crow’s Neck, which Dr. Allen told me would be about $300,000 per year,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter expects to introduce a bill in the House to add these funds to the state Department of Education’s budget, with Rep. Randy Boyd, who also represents Tishomingo County as a co-sponsor. Sen. J.P. Wilemon would introduce a similar bill in the senate co-authored by Sen. Rita Potts Parks.
“There have been a lot of people working to get Crow’s Neck back up and running, including former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers and U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee,” Carpenter said. “It has been an asset in my county and district serving so many kids and the larger community. It’s a grassroots effort right now, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that everything will work out.”