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Impossible Dream Come True
July 2006

Ozarks Newsstand 2006
By: Scott Liles

DIAMOND CITY - Thanking the men who lent their names to the project, local and state officials christened the Dr. Ralph Bowers/Tommy Donohoe Nursery Pond on Wednesday.

"This hatchery is named after the two people who made it happen," Diamond City Mayor Troy Burleson said. "This has been a dream of theirs."

The nursery pond, located in the West Sugarloaf area of Bull Shoals Lake, was constructed under the authority of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and will be administered by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

A 550-foot-long and 25-foot-high earthen dam will collect rainfall and groundwater to create a 21-acre nursery pond. The AG&FC will use the pond to raise a large number of crappie and walleye fingerlings, which will be released into Bull Shoals Lake.

"So many people have worked together on this project," said Dr. Ralph Bowers, a retired dentist who served on the AG&FC Board of Directors in the 1970s. "There are so many people to thank."

The nursery pond's other namesake, former Diamond City Mayor Tommy Donohoe, thanked officials from Diamond City, Harrison, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln's office, as well as former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt for their efforts.

"It's an impossible dream come true," he said.

Mayor Burleson pointed out for the last six years, volunteers had been sinking brush piles into the lake to help the fingerlings survive after they are released from the nursery.

"We did not listen to the naysayers," he said. "We believed it was coming."

Mayor Burleson also thanked Hammerschmidt for his efforts to secure funding for the project.

"He picks up the phone and makes things happen," Burleson said.

Ground was broken on the project about three years ago, with North Arkansas College's heavy machinery classes providing much of the labor.

Northark President Dr. Jeff Olson noted that 40 students had moved 100,000 cubic yards of earth to create the dam and bowl-like depression that will house the nursery.

"Northark is about education and community enrichment," Dr. Olson said.

"The students have learned by us being out here. The community has benefited by us being out here. This is a prime example of what Northark is about."

Col. Wally Walters, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Little Rock District, said a three-year construction window was a "pretty good pace" for such a project.

"That shows the cooperation between all the groups and agencies involved," he said.

"We're very proud to serve a role in this project."

AG&FC Director Scott Henderson said that the nursery pond would help keep alive the tradition of Bull Shoals Lake as a fisherman's destination.

"This is more than just a Game & Fish project," he said. "We think that this is something very special."

Mayor Burleson said that he hoped to one day see a Bull Shoals Lake maritime museum and visitor center built.

"We are not done," he said. "We want that here to help preserve the area's history and heritage."

 
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