The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 12, 2013

VIDEO: Neosho National Fish Hatchery celebrates 125 years in operation

NEOSHO, Mo. — Russell Hively, president of the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery group, on Friday proposed a new name for the hatchery.

“The name should be changed to Neosho National Fish Hatchery and Place of Wonderful Memories,” Hively said during the ceremony recognizing the hatchery’s 125th anniversary.

He said that in the visitors center he often overhears people talking about their memories of time spent at the hatchery.

“I understand that in the 1950s it was even a favorite parking place for teenagers,” Hively said as his audience laughed.

Congress established the National Fish Hatchery in Neosho in July 1888. It’s the first and the oldest operating federal fish hatchery. It was chosen for the available land, the freshwater spring and the nearby railroad. The first shipment of 25,000 fish eggs arrived in January 1890 and they soon began to hatch. The hatchery is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A $4.6 million, 9,500-square-foot visitors center opened in 2010.

BEING PART OF IT

Randy Bartkoski, of Carthage, was among those who came to Friday’s event. He said he volunteered as a park-sitter in the 1980s, so the hatchery could remain open on Sundays and the workers would have time off. He said he also respects and admires the current director, David Hendrix.

“I wanted to come down today and be part of it,” Bartkoski said.

He said he also plans to visit the hatchery with his two granddaughters from California when they come in a few weeks.

“This is something you can’t get in the big city,” Bartkoski said.

Megan Hinkle, of Ritchey, came with her children, Eva, 5, and Alex, 4.

“They love the fish hatchery,” Hinkle said. She said they were there on Thursday and learned of the anniversary event. It was the first thing on Eva’s mind when she woke up on Friday.

“She reminded me about the party today,” Hinkle said.

Asked what she liked about the hatchery, Eva said it was the bubble that allows children to view the fish from inside an aquarium.

“I like seeing the fishies in the bubble,” she said.

Reece Long, 10, of Webb City, was the youngest of three generations at the hatchery. Also along was his mother, Jayna Long, and Jayna’s father, Rex Black, of Joplin. Black said he had seen several people he knew at the event. Jayna Long said she grew up in Neosho, so it was a part of her childhood.

“I think the fish are really cool and it’s been here for a very long time,” Reece Long said.

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