Long-term goal achieved with fairgrounds aquariums dedication



Reading the names of people who contributed to the new aquariums at the Jackson County Fairgrounds evoked emotions in Nancy Mills.

In the 10 years she has been secretary/treasurer of the Jackson County Conservation Council, a few past presidents and members who helped raise money for the project have died.

The organization’s rules and bylaws contain three accomplishments it wanted to fulfill.

It has been able to draw some members back to clubs, and it has been able to upkeep the fish stand building at the fair.

The third goal was to install new aquariums, and that was recognized Sunday with a dedication and ribbon-cutting.

“It’s very emotional because we had a meeting in November, and we didn’t know how we were going to get the money,” Mills said. “People started seeing that we meant business. There have been a lot of donations, and everybody is working, everybody is helping us.”

A balloon release was also conducted in honor of the people the organization has lost to cancer.

“There’s a lot of people that aren’t here,” Mills said. “They worked hard. It’s hard work. People don’t understand how hard the work really is.”

Dick Clampitt, president of the Jackson County Conservation Council, said money has been raised for the project for at least 10 years.

“We’ve been saving it for years trying to get ahead,” he said.

The project wound up costing around $39,000, and Clampitt said about $25,000 is still needed. Proceeds from the fair fish stand will help each of the six conservation clubs in the county and also go toward the aquariums project.

Donations will continue to be accepted for the next few years, Clampitt said.

For now, though, he said it is “a great, great relief” to see the project completed for people to enjoy at the fair, which runs through Saturday.

The three stainless steel aquariums sit on a concrete block structure. Each one is 6½ feet wide, 18 feet long and 4 feet deep; weighs around 1,200 pounds; holds 1,500 gallons of water; and has a 2-by-4-foot bulletproof window on each side.

The windows allow visitors to see inside the aquariums at eye level. Before, people had to look over the top of them into milky water, which made it hard to see the fish, including flatheads, channel catfish and bluegills.

There also is an area for snapping and softshell turtles that is surrounded by a fence.

The whole structure sits under a shelter house with lights to provide protection.

The fish and turtles on display this week were recently collected by the public. The council will give $25 gift certificates to the largest turtle and largest of each type of fish.

Ed Mills of Seymour said he contributed the bluegills in one of the tanks. He caught them at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge east of Seymour.

The member of the Dudleytown, Carr Township and Hamilton Township conservation clubs said the new aquariums were much-needed. The previous tanks had been in place for more than 60 years and were deteriorating and leaking water.

“It was about ready to fall down. It just got old,” he said. “It looks 100 percent better than it did. I think it has improved the whole setup.”

Mills was happy to see a lot of people checking out the new aquariums on the opening day of the fair, and he expected that to pick up as the week progressed.

“I’ve always said there are more people that come to this location right here than anywhere, than any exhibit,” he said. “I hope that people enjoy it enough that they’ll help us a little bit in paying for it.”

James Mills Jr. also liked watching people of all ages looking at the fish and turtles.

“It’s just fun,” he said. “It was hard work to get this done, and to see smiles on people’s faces, that’s what it’s all about, really.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

To donate to the aquarium project at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, contact Dick Clampitt, president of the Jackson County Conservation Council, at 812-498-9311 or 812-966-2516.


No posts to display