Fish hatchery work at 20 percent

TUPELO – A series of sweeping improvements to the Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery should be complete by mid-February.
“We’re at about 20 percent of the way through now,” said Jimmy Christopher, construction manager with the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees the hatchery through its U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bureau.
The Bureau had announced that nearly $1 million in federal stimulus money would go for the improvements, which include building a new office and visitor contact station, a new well and pump system and repairs to a 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, was closed in September 2009 after a federal inspection revealed numerous deficiencies.
Construction began in October with Reston, Va.-based Centennial Contractors Enterprises heading the work. Centennial has hired local companies as contractors.
In all, $976,807 will be allocated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Most of the funds will go toward construction of the 2,800-square-foot office and visitor station. The current 1,500-square-foot office, which has structural damage, now serves both roles.
“We had hoped the whole thing would have started quicker and that we would have been in by December, but the official start date was around the first week of October,” said Laura Dobbins, hatchery office assistant.
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 emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal