JUNE 1975 – NOVEMBER 2011

Just before the completion of my MS degree, about January of 1973,  Dr. Shell offered me a job with the Department, working at the Research Unit or as we called it, the Station.  I accepted the offer but before my official hiring, Dr. Shell told me about a call he had received from a man in Mississippi who was looking for a fish farm manager.  I took the job in Mississippi and left Auburn in March of 1973. Dr. Shell never hired anyone for the job he had offered me and about November of 1974 he called and offered me the job again. So, in June, 1975 we moved back to Auburn and began my career with the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures.

The person in charge at the Station was Andrew Lamar Black, known by faculty, staff and students as Mr. Black. Beginning in 1948, Mr. Black, along with Claude Ellington, Earnest Dowdell, Lorenza Ray Jr., Jesse Byrd, Willie James and Willie George Pitts, Mose Washington, John Wesley Ogletree, Thomas Watts and several other crew members had  designed and built almost every pond and road, many with mules and slip scrapes for moving dirt, as well as several buildings at the Station. After Mr. Black’s retirement in 1985, I was promoted to station director and put in charge of the crew and we continued the maintenance and construction of the Station and support of faculty and students.  In the coming years, the older crew members retired and new men were hired.  These included Henry Avery, Willie “Younk” Levett, Oliver “Boo” Williams, Kenny and Willie “Red” Reese, Felix Grimmet, Tommy Chambley, Andy Fralic,  Keith Jones and Mike Ward.  In 1982, the first woman hired to work at the Station was Karen Veverica but after just three years, she was assigned to one of our International projects in Africa and Renee Beam came on board in 1985.  Also, Esau Arana became my Associate Director in 2002 and supervised the crew for 10 years during some of the major pond renovation periods.  Bill Trimble, Mark Peterman, Donna Lofaso and Valerie Klein have made significant contributions to our effort at what had become known as the Fisheries Center. 

Some of the accomplishments made by the crew and me during my years in charge include the following:

1975 Establishment of a public fish market in the Counting Shed and we’ve been selling fish ever since!

1985 Market Building

1989 Ireland Building

1989-1991 Genetics Research area; Designed by Dr. Jean Yves Mevel, built by Station personnel.  10 quarter acre ponds, 60 tenth acre ponds, hatchery and lab

1993 Installed underground electrical service to 116 E, H and M ponds

1994 Renovated dam of Farm Pond 6, new 8” pipe and valve

1997 Renovated bottoms and sides of B ponds, M 2, 3, 4 and S 5 dam

1998 Renovated ponds F 1-27, M 1, 5 and T 1, 2.  Purchased new D5M Caterpillar

1999 Renovated ponds R 1-18, M 6 and restored Dam of S 6 with new drain and overflow pipes

2000 Renovated ponds R 19-33, M 7, 8 and 9

2001 With the purchase of property to the west, raised the water level one foot on Farm Pond 11, the lower station main reservoir

2002 Renovated ponds F 1-4 and added catch basins with deep water inlets

2003 After purchase of the Shaef “Walking” Excavator, began renovation of E line ponds (includes E, M and H ponds).  Catch basins with deep water inlets were a key feature that was added to the original design.

2004 Complete renovation, including plumbing and wiring, in lower Station Hatchery; renovated ponds E 49-60 and 61-66 and M 13, 14 and 15

2005 Renovated ponds E 22-25, G 1, 2, and 3

2005-6 Renovated ponds S 11 and 12, new drains, added water inlets from pump in S 8 into ponds S 10, 11, 12, 19 28 and 29

2006 Renovated ponds E 67-76, M 16-24; completed diversion ditch from below S 28 and 29 to force overflow water into Farm Pond 14 above Genetics.

2008 Renovated ponds E 1-5 and 13-18; built 100’ X 20’ open tractor shed at lower station; built storage building for Fisheries Co-op unit

2009 New roof and interior renovation of Fish Disease wet lab at S 6; new roof on lower station Hatchery; renovated ponds E 6 – 10, 19-22, 33 and half of 34; built new 28’ X 72’ shop, 24’ X 30’ Chemical Storage building, 36’ X 84’ Aquaria shed at Genetics; installed new 60 KW generator at Genetics

2010 Renovated ponds E 11, 12, 23-34, half of 34, 35, 36, H 8, 9, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25

2011  In July, moved into the new Aquatic Research Center with 20,600 sq. ft. in the Administration/visitor center/classroom and fish handling area; 17,300 sq. ft. in the Wet Lab area.

The Aquatic Research Center building was the last BIG project done during my tenure.  Over the years there were thousands of little projects, many thousands of pounds of fish harvested and sorted, and a large number of other maintenance tasks.