Hatchie River project named SWTDD Project of the Year

Hatchie River project named SWTDD Project of the Year
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

BOLIVAR, TN (WMC) - A new project in Bolivar that is aimed at bringing tourists in the area as well as creating an educational environment received state recognition Thursday.

Southwest Tennessee Development District presented the City of Bolivar with the SWTDD Project of the Year award for the Hatchie River Park and Nature Center project being created.

The award was one of seven presented at the SWTDD Board of Directors Meeting and Awards Banquet held in Jackson, TN on Thursday.

According to a press release, the recipients of the awards were recognized for the impact they have made, or are making, in their communities.

The Hatchie River Park and Nature Center is aimed at taking advantage of the quiet and untapped source of recreation and beauty in Hardeman County - The Hatchie River.

The project will be a tourism and recreational destination for the city, residents, and is expected to bring needed tax dollars to the city. It will offer camping, boating, canoeing, fishing, picnicking, boardwalks, and many other recreational and educational opportunities for individuals as well as families.

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

The grant will enable the city to replace a deteriorating 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 boat dock and gangway is the latest of developments with the project. The city, led by Mayor Barrett Stevens, has already constructed a water wheel out of recycled material and created it as a force of not only beauty and attraction, but educational opportunities in the future.

"I'm thankful that the Hatchie Project is continuing to be recognized for the excellence it is," Stevens said. "This is an amazing time for our city and an incredible time to be proud of the resources we have that we will soon be able to showcase to visitors and residents alike."

Stevens said the Hatchie Project will provide educational opportunities about the river, history, as well as even how the water wheel could produce electricity. It will be an opportunity for outdoor enthusiast to enjoy the beauty of the Hatchie River in new ways.

"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," Stevens said. "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."

The recognition from SWTDD is only one of the many recognitions this project has received, either formally or informally. The project has drawn experts in various fields from the State of Tennessee, University of Tennessee at Martin, and across the state to look at the potential this project will bring to the city.

"The Hatchie River is the only remaining, unchannelized, and unimpounded major tributary of the Lower Mississippi River Valley," Stevens said. "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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