Hatchie Town River project receives $50K grant from state - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Hatchie Town River project receives $50K grant from state

The City of Bolivar received a $50,000 grant for the Hatchie Town River Park and Nature Center Project (SOURCE: City of Bolivar) The City of Bolivar received a $50,000 grant for the Hatchie Town River Park and Nature Center Project (SOURCE: City of Bolivar)
Water wheel serves as a focal point and the 'face' of the Hatchie River Town project (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) Water wheel serves as a focal point and the 'face' of the Hatchie River Town project (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

After having long been a quiet and untapped source of recreation and beauty, the Hatchie River has part of Hardeman County, but not much else. However, the City of Bolivar and Mayor Barrett Stevens have put plans in motion for that to change and recently received some help.

The City of Bolivar received a $50,000 grant through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development with the 2016 Tourism Enhancement Grant for tourism. 

State and local leaders were on hand for the check presentation at the Bolivar City Hall on Thursday.

The grant money will be used as part of the Hatchie Town River Park project to construct a new boat dock. The project will fund the replacement of a deteriorating existing 12 foot boat ramp and construct a floating boat dock and gangway. The structure is designed to provide a safe, public ramp system to access the Hatchie River. 

The project will also include a parking area with asphalt and gravel and a scenic pullover space. 

"The Hatchie River project is going to be very impactful to Hardemen County," Jody Sliger, Three Star Director of TN Dept of Economic and Community Development, said. "We're real excited. The metrics are great."

The Hatchie Town River Park and Nature Center is located on the banks of the Hatchie River on Highway 18 North and is 1.5 miles from downtown Bolivar. It will be dedicated to river activities such as canoing, kayaking, fishing, and wildlife tours. 

In addition, there will be a museum and nature center that will serve as the centerpiece for Scenic Hatchie Blueways and Greenways Recreation Area. 

The park will extend the public park system throughout Hardeman County and will benefit the local economy, promote usage of the river for outdoor recreational activities, and educate others on the importance of valuable natural resources. The project is aimed at attracting fishermen, canoers, and kayakers to the area.

The 'face' of the Hatchie Town Park can been seen from the highway. The water wheel, made from recycled materials from other projects, was installed by employees of the Bolivar City Recreation Department, Bolivar Street and Sanitation Department, and Bolivar Utility Department, and stands at the location of an artesian well. 

“It’s an exciting time for our city,” Bolivar Mayor Barrett Stevens said. “The Hatchie River has played such a valuable role in the livelihood and productivity of Hatchie Town and Bolivar throughout its history, but now it basically is untapped. This project will tap back into its resources and give Bolivar and Hardeman County a valuable source of tourism, and enable us to showcase one of the beautiful assets of our county, and our history.”

Sliger said the grant came as a result of the listening tours that were conducted across the state.

"Just listening to the community and what the community said they needed," Sliger said. "We developed the grant to help them improve their infrastructure."

The first time grant program is a one million dollar program that funded 29 projects. Sliger said the funds were state funds that came from the Rural Economic Act.

"We can't thank the legislators enough for supporting these programs."

State Representative Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar) said he believes the Hatchie Town Park project will do more than just bring tourists.

"It draws people to Bolivar. It's good for families to visit and especially for people who love being on the river," Shaw said. "I think it will even bring communities together."

Sliger said the grant Bolivar received was one of 29 awarded for tourism across the state that is aimed at improving tourism, specifically for rural areas.

"I'm so thankful that Bolivar was able to get this grant and we can continue to make the Hatchie River Park what this city deserves and bring tourists from all over to enjoy the beautiful Hatchie and our town," Stevens said. “The Hatchie River is the only remaining, unchannelized, and unimpounded major tributary of the Lower Mississippi River Valley. We have residents as well as visitors, who are always seeing and photographing bald eagles along the Hatchie River. There are over 100 species of fish and 250 species of birds. That’s something we’re proud of and we want to showcase to as many people as we can. That’s the vision of the Hatchie."

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