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Headlines of '09: Carpenter's Brook on the hook

The following story first appeared in the Eagle Observer in 2009. The impact on the community was so great in that at year's end, we followed up to bring you the latest on the issue. Next week, look for updates on last year's biggest stories in Marcellus, and a roundup of noteworthy 2009 news.

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

In Elbridge, Leo Cooper led a petition drive to gather signatures of locals who oppose the closing of the county park. The Elbridge Town Board formally took a stand against closing the hatchery, passing a resolution in support of the petition drive. Fisherman's internet forums were abuzz with the rumor, and mass e-mails began circulating urging residents to contact their county legislator and voice their support for the hatchery. A "sign-and-fax" campaign began annonymously in Marcellus: a stack of papers announcing "I fish and I vote," encouraged residents to sign a sheet and fax it to the county office.

The county was close-lipped regarding the rumor, other than to point out the park does not create revenue and costs about $500,000 annually to operate.

When the Onondaga County Legislature passed the 2010 budget on Oct. 13, it was good news for the hatchery, and the 40,000 people who visit the park each year. The budget allotted $150,000 for the hatchery, with an additional $75,000 available pending approval of plans for a partnership with SUNY ESF. Though the county cut two full-time hatchery staffers, ESF has already agreed to provide student volunteers to fill the gap, with a possible $100,000 monetary contribution from the college.

Carpenter's Brook Fish Hatchery is open year round; for information on how to volunteer, visit onondagacountyparks.com/carpenters.

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