Millions go into county fishing lake
Area residents should have a new fishing hole this spring as the Madison County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved regulations to allow public fishing in the lake at Sulphur Springs Park beginning in March.
Since its inception years ago, the 60.05-acre Sulphur Springs Park, located at Sulphur Springs Road and Mississippi 17 northeast of Canton, has been controversial. It was initially billed as a $1.5 million lake park to include ball fields, pavilions, picnic areas, walking trails and an 18-acre lake for fishing.
However, by October 2018, the county had spent more than $2.1 million on the park.
Calls to county officials seeking updates on the expenditures since 2018 went unreturned as of press time Wednesday.
In October 2018, supervisors approved spending over $2.5 million on a number of improvements that included at the time $77,905 for the main road; $6,135 for the playground road; $35,600 for the ballfield road; $35,240 for the playground parking; $35,900 for the health center road and parking; $60,700 for ballfield parking; $76,405 for a 1.3-mile, 10-foot wide walking trail; $60,000 for a foot bridge; $135,000 for lights; $35,000 for erosion control; $20,000 for disturbed area seeding/straw; $65,294 for contingencies; $35,000 for architectural construction management; $80,454.88 for architectural design service; $25,000 for two entry gates; $65,000 for the playground; $15,000 for exercise equipment; $935,000 for a 4,000 square-foot community health center; $205,000 for an open air pavilion; 185,000 for a restroom building; $15,000 for a trail head; $10,000 for signs and benches; $300,000 for two softball fields. The total as of October 2018 was estimated at $2,573,683.88.
Now, in 2022, the fishing lake is finally about to open.
“It’s time to fish,” Madison County Board of Supervisors Attorney Mike Espy told supervisors during Monday’s meeting. “Hopefully, the … park is going to open soon.”
Espy said the lake is stocked with bass, bream and catfish, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks recently surveyed the fish population in the lake.
“They pulled out largemouth bass, and there is a lot of them,” Espy told supervisors. “In preparation for the opening of this park, we need to do a fishing ordinance to regulate the size and the harvest of the fish.”
Espy said he studied regulations the state uses for state parks and converted them for Madison County’s use.
“This is an ordinance I’m recommending that you pass,” Espy said before highlighting elements of the ordinance, including that people must have a current active fishing license to fish unless they are under 16 or over 65, disabled or a veteran or in military service.
“You’re exempt if you are blind, paraplegic, all the regular exemptions apply to this, or they could fish without a license,” Espy said. “No commercial fishing, no selling fish. It is just recreational use only.”
Espy said the ordinance would include size limits and limits on the numbers of fish that can be harvested.
“Violators will be subject to being charged with a misdemeanor $100 fine or imprisonment in the county jail or both,” Espy said. “If you are in violation, it moves through the process. If you approve this ordinance, it becomes effective in March. I thought that was a good day. I couldn’t see the park opening before March.”
Espy said the regulations would be posted clearly at the park so the public would be aware of the rules for fishing in the lake at Sulphur Springs Park.
Supervisors voted unanimously, with District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen absent, to approve the fishing ordinance.
In other matters at Monday’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors:
• Voted to elect District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin as board president and Steen as board vice-president for the 2022 year.
• Acknowledged that the Madison County Election Commission obtained authorization to apply for a grant through Homeland Security to purchase election equipment.
• Voted to allow the following roads/streets in the Lake Caroline development to become public: Charleston Circle, Charleston Lane, Harwood Court and Sumter Court.
• Approved purchasing a water tanker for the Central Madison County Fire Protection District.
• Voted to provide tax-exempt status to property recently purchased by the James W. Hood Family Foundation on behalf of Charter School Properties LLC that plans to locate an expansion of Christ Covenant School on the property.
• Approved the final plat for Glenwild, Part 3. The development is approximately 15 acres and has 44 lots.
• Approved the final plat for Wildoak, Part 1. The development is approximately 13 acres and has 38 lots.