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Carpenter's Brook on the hook

When County Executive Joanne Mahoney suggested that Carpenter's Brook Fish Hatchery would be on the chopping block come September, a grassroots effort to save the facility was born.

In Elbridge, Leo Cooper has led a petition drive to gather signatures of locals who oppose the closing of the county park. Cooper, the senior program coordinator for the town of Elbridge, said he and his wife have lived in the Halfway area for 50 years and three generations of the family have enjoyed the hatchery.

"Our children and grandchildren have enjoyed feeding and seeing the fish, and it's educational for all," Cooper said.

Cooper said the J-E Seniors use the site each year for their summer picnic, which is where the petition drive officially began. The seniors invited Legislator Bob Warner to the picnic, who then alerted the media.

"We wanted to show everybody how busy the place was - there were a lot of cars, people walking around," Cooper said, adding that the J-E Seniors alone accounted for 80 park visitors that day, "This is the only county park facility in our area out here in the west and we want them to know we want to keep it."

Making a statement

Cooper said the petitions have been distributed throughout the Jordan-Elbridge community, though one had made its way out to Camillus.

The Elbridge Town Board formally took a stand against closing the hatchery, passing a resolution Wednesday Aug. 5 in support of the petition drive.

Supervisor Ken Bush said the town would relay to Mahoney that it was opposed to any plans to close the facility.

"The whole town needs to be aware of it, the whole county, really," Cooper said. "That's a great park."

Fisherman's internet forums are abuzz with the rumor, and mass e-mails are circulating urging residents to contact their county legislator and voice their support for the hatchery. A "sign-and-fax" campaign has begun, if mysteriously, in Marcellus. A stack of papers announcing "I fish and I vote," encourage residents to sign a sheet and fax it to the county office. Village treasurer Julie Brissette said she wasn't sure where the stack had come from but people had been picking them up.

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