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Local fish hatchery good for tourism?

Tennyson said raising the fish hatchery profile would have its rewards, but people should realize it's already a vital resource.

"A recent state study indicated the hatchery has a huge impact on our local economy," he said.

Farrington wants to take it further.

After studying the marketing and utilization of the Branson hatchery, she's ready to lobby for similar initiatives here.

Naturalists, perhaps borrowed from the county's Up Yonda Educational Farm in Bolton, could teach children to fish - or the art of fly-tying - at the hatchery, she said. The hatchery's environmental displays, both indoor and outdoors, should be expanded, she added.

Visits to the hatchery by area students could be multiplied by hatchery employees giving introductory presentations at schools. Signs at the 29 waterways where the county stocks fish could host signs advertising that the fish were raised locally, she said.

The county could develop a mobile display set-up that could be trucked out to fishing derbys and other community events, she said.

Colorful, informative brochures depicting the hatchery could be distributed to area motels and accommodations. Signs should be scattered around the county leading tourists to the site, where regular tours could be conducted.

Her ideas were detailed in a 1,200-word email she sent out this week to county leaders.

Tennyson noted that such initiatives would be difficult with the hatchery's present staffing, after the deep cutbacks the county Parks & Recreation Department has endured for four years. The department has shed five positions over that time due to financial constraints and the hatchery now only has two employees, who are primarily busy raising fish.

"We're down to a skeleton crew now," Tennyson said.

Farrington said she was prepared to seek assistance and support in her campaign from area fish and game clubs.

Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said Farrington's efforts were beneficial both for the county and the town of Warrensburg.

"Anything we can do to better utilize the county facility and make it more financially viable - including bringing in private donations - I'm all for it," he said.

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