Arkansas commission outgrows office, pursues new property
MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — Take a walk through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Office on Fifth Street in Mountain Home without a guide and it’s easy to get lost in the random, rabbit warren of offices and makeshift work spaces.
Then, step out the compound where they store the boats and other equipment they use to create and maintain habitat, as well as stock fish. Every parking spot is taken by equipment.
Two large trailers sit outside the compound, one on a grassy strip just outside the fence and the other in a parking lot across the street. Other equipment is stored at other AGFC sites and brought in when necessary.
Jeremy Risley, District Fisheries Supervisor for the Mountain Home Office, smiles and puts on a brave face when asked if they’ve outgrown their current location.
“We make this work every day, but we have no doubt we could better serve the community with more space,” said Risley. “We’ve had to divide rooms into offices. We have a space that is a lab at one moment and a classroom the next. That’s not ideal.”
The AGFC has been looking for a piece of property to purchase and build a purpose-built office and compound, the Baxter Bulletin reported . They found a 14-acre property on U.S. Highway 62/412 W., just outside the Mountain Home city limits.
Risley said the $260,000 deal is expected to close by the end of June. The actual construction of the new field office is not expected to begin for a “few years” as AGFC has other field offices in the process of being built and the new Mountain Home office will have to wait its turn.
With the new office, Risley said the AGFC hopes to offer more and better services to the public.
One of the primary things Risley said they’d like to be able to do now but can’t is to offer licenses for sale.
“We can’t offer hunting and fishing licenses here,” said Risley. “We’re just not equipped to deal with that need.”
Currently, when AGFC offers hunting classes, they must rent a space to teach the class. That, Risley said, is not only an added expense, it’s not as ideal as having a purpose built classroom with support services on site.
“A bigger compound will allow us to store all of our equipment,” said Risley. “Over the years, we’ve had to store some of our equipment at other locations.”
One of the things the public will notice immediately when a new office is built is parking. Currently, when all the employees are out of the field and in the office, parking gets difficult.
“When we’re all here, we’ll park some vehicles in the compound just to leave a few spaces for the public,” Risley said. “Obviously, that makes it difficult when it’s time to hook up a boat or big piece of equipment on a trailer.”
Risley wants the public to know, especially those who hunt and fish, that the AGFC appreciates the support given to the agency.
“Without the sales tax and the hunting and fishing license revenue, we wouldn’t be able to move forward with this,” said Risley. “We certainly appreciate the support of the public and with the new office we hope to provide them an even better level of service.”
Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com