By Roger McKinney
NEOSHO, Mo. —
The National Fish Hatchery in Neosho, as it prepares to celebrate 125 years in operation, apparently has been spared from big cuts caused by the federal sequestration.
The hatchery budget has been cut by about 3 percent, from $687,273 for the fiscal year that just ended, to $667,858 for the new fiscal year, said Chuck Traxler, a regional spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The cut amounts to $19,415.
“Thankfully for the hatchery, this year the impact doesn’t appear to be real significant,” Traxler said.
Traxler said an agencywide hiring freeze has been put in place, resulting in vacancies not being filled. Otherwise, managers at locations have some discretion about how they make the cuts, including avoiding overtime.
David Hendrix is the manager at the Neosho hatchery.
“Producing fish and serving the public are his top priorities,” Traxler said of Hendrix.
The hatchery, at 520 Park St., raises rainbow trout for Lake Taneycomo and pallid sturgeon for the Lower Missouri River. It is the oldest national fish hatchery, opening in 1888.
Traxler said it also has the newest visitors center. The $4.6 million, 9,500-square-foot visitors center opened in 2010. It includes a 2,500-gallon freshwater aquarium that holds several species of local fish.
The 125th anniversary celebration will start at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, July 12. The hatchery is partnering with the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion from Belton for the ceremony. The 418th color guard will raise the colors to start the celebration. There will be 75 soldiers from the battalion on hand with their vehicles to answer visitors’ questions.
The program will include remarks by dignitaries.
More than 45,000 people annually visit the National Fish Hatchery. The fish produced at the hatchery generate $15 million for the state economy.
AN EARLY WORK by Neosho-born artist Thomas Hart Benton is “The Fish Hatchery Neosho,” painted in 1912.