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Wildlife Agency Delays Park Closing

By David Howell

OAKLAND – It’s official, Cossar State Park is off the chopping block for now and will not close as scheduled on October 31.

    The reversal comes as the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks  (MDWFP) sent a letter  to the Mississippi State Personnel Board requesting to delay a previous request to eliminate the work force at the park. The letter is dated Sept. 30.

    “This letter is something tangible that people can see,” Rep. Tommy Reynolds reported Thursday afternoon in a phone interview with the Herald.

    “We will try to have a bill that will  provide for a lot of improvements in parks across the state,” Reynolds added.

    Reynolds also reported that MDWFP will operate the facility more efficiently, with hopes to reduce the $300,000 deficient in the park budget. This move could affect park’s restaurant and swimming pool, two amenities that contribute heavily to the park’s financial losses.

    The news of the closure came on Sept. 16, when the MDWFP went to the state personnel board and requested the reduction in force for 11 employees  at the state-operated park.  Park employees were notified the next day, Sept. 17, and the news quickly spread across the state.

    Since that time Reynolds and District 10 Representative Warner McBride have worked daily to convince the agency not to close the park.

       This issue wasn’t over until it wasn’t over, Reynolds added, describing the hours invested during the 13-day period.

    Reynolds thanked the public for their support. He also thanked state senators and representatives who assisted.

    “Senator Gray Tollison was able to make some calls to help with the effort. Also, Congressman Travis Childers has corresponded with the Corps of Engineers,” Reynolds added.     “My colleagues were forthcoming with their assistance and we appreciate it.”

    Yalobusha County Economic Development Director Bob Tyler updated supervisors about the park during the “first Monday” supervisor meeting in Water Valley on Monday.

    Tyler reported to supervisors that the park will remain open until the legislation  session in January with hopes of obtaining more money.

    Tyler, who also works as a consultant for MDWFP, added that the agency is reviewing a contract with ReserveAmerican. Tyler was referring to the Canadian company used by MDWFP to provide online campsite reservation processing for all state parks in Mississippi.

    “A lot of people are frustrated with the reservation company,” Tyler noted.

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