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Lake Hazle overhaul long overdue

The Copiah County Board of Supervisors stepped in and replaced the aging wooden bridge on the Lake Hazle Dam in the fall of 2012 with a sturdier concrete one. MS Dept. of Environmental Quality had ordered the original bridge closed to traffic because of erosion issues around the pilings and under the spillway.

Things are beginning to happen on the recreational side of life around communities in Copiah County–after years of nonchalance from residents, business people and even some elected officials–and, hopefully, the visions seen in each will be realities within 3-5 years.
Everyone’s talking about the new Panther Ridge Park development just south of Hazlehurst off I-55.  The project’s main stakeholders are moving forward and taking the right steps to complete their vision.  Once finished, not only will Panther Ridge have a distinct economic impact on the area–visitors filling up hotels, buying gas and eating in restaurants and shopping in our stores–but also, a psychological one.  I imagine in the near future more than a few Copiahians will be asking this: “Hey, if we can get this done here, why can’t we make some other things happen?”
Plans for a family-style park are on the board in Wesson, a town that is coping with steady growth, while maintaining its quaintly charm.  Co-Lin Community College offers much in terms of recreational opportunities for families, too.
Crystal Springs is ahead of the curve in their promotion of beautiful Lake Chautauqua, hosting many yearly events.  New mayor Sallie Garland worked feverishly in her former position as head of the town’s Parks and Rec Department to lay a solid foundation for future developments.
At least one site that many of us would like to see re-worked at the very least is Lake Hazle in Hazlehurst, which has become sort of like a sore thumb to the city administration.  A few improvements have been completed in the past twenty years or so: new bathrooms in two locations, a pavilion that has hosted several events, a new bridge on the dam, repairs to the platform and installation of a nature trail/walking path.
At one time, the lake must have been a main attraction for people from miles around.  She’s had her problems, most of which have been patched up here and there.  Despite some of her issues, folks still catch fish out of her at all times of the year, and certain areas are peaceful places to picnic and such.
One drive around Lake Hazle shows that she needs a complete overhaul.  Although the cost to complete such a project might be extreme, a few local folks have the talent, contacts and patience to find grants and other avenues for funds.
Let’s hope that a complete overhaul of Lake Hazle–and the benefits of such–is tackled in the next 5 years.
Joe Buck Coates

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