$1 million, four years … no fish

10:00 am | July 12, 2013

Editor’s note: This story was provided to the Elizabethton Star as part of a news partnership between WJHL-TV and the Star. 

Nearly a million dollars of taxpayer money had already gone into preliminary work on a proposed Elizabethton Fish Hatchery before the project stalled in Nashville, but Gov. Bill Haslam says politics wasn’t to blame and, in an exclusive interview, claims the project isn’t dead.

“We look at a lot of things,” Haslam said when asked if he would make the multi-million-dollar project a priority. “And we have to balance that against a lot of other things. What I can tell you is that again we’ll take a look at it.”

Image from NewsChannel 11A sign marks the site of the proposed fish hatchery at the end of the Cherokee Industrial Park in Elizabethton.

Image from NewsChannel 11
A sign marks the site of the proposed fish hatchery at the end of the Cherokee Industrial Park in Elizabethton.

As governor, Haslam has the power to submit a budget to lawmakers and prioritize funding for key state projects. If it’s not made a priority, the fish hatchery project, could disappear – along with nearly $1 million in taxpayer money.
The governor said it’s all about prioritizing.

“Like a lot of other things, that comes up in the budget every year and kind of wrestles with priority with a lot of other things,” he said.

The fish hatchery has been a key agenda item for state Rep. Kent Williams, a Carter County native. The project seemed poised to become a reality over the past several years.

Located at the end of the road in the Cherokee Industrial Park, a massive chain-link fence surrounding a grove of trees, thick with weeds and vines is where the proposed fish hatchery could be built, if only funding could be found.

Today, however, only a large sign can be found there. Painted brown with yellow letters, the sign makes a bold – but still unfulfilled – promise: “Proposed site of the Elizabethton Fish Hatchery.”

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