By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery will get nearly $1 million in federal stimulus money for a series of sweeping improvements.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the funding in a press release Tuesday. It hired Reston, Va.-based Centennial Contractors Enterprises to build a new office, visitor contact station, and new well and pump system.
It also will repair the two-story house that once served as the hatchery superintendent’s living quarters. The 106-year-old home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 and is maintained by the Tupelo Garden Club.
The house, frequently used for weddings and receptions or various kinds, was closed in September after a federal inspection revealed numerous deficiencies.
Hatchery Manager Ricky Campbell could not be reached for comment. But he said in a press release that the project will “make a big difference in how the fish hatchery does its job, and in the way we interact with the public.”
Centennial will hire local companies to perform the work. In all, $976,807 will be allocated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
It’s unclear yet when the work will start or how long it will take, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Phil Kloer.
Kloer said Centennial and hatchery officials will meet soon to establish a construction timeline.
Most of the funds will go toward construction of a new office and visitor station. The current office, which suffers from structural damage, now serves both roles.
“This new building will have exhibits, a conference room and facilities that will make it much easier to host students, as well as the thousands of other visitors who come here every year,” Campbell said.
The house and hatchery are located at 111 Elizabeth St. behind downtown’s Fairpark District. Named after the late 19th century congressman who secured its location in Tupelo, the hatchery raises several species of fish.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.