TISHOMINGO COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) — Nestled among the lush forests and hilly terrain of Tishomingo County is a facility that -- for all intents and purposes -- seems to blend into the nature around it.
"It is beautiful, and we are excited about all the possibilities that can happen here," Fellowship Christian Retreat board member Karen Comer said.
The facility known as Crow’s Neck wowed students with its windows to the outdoors and educational experiences for 18 years.
Then the funding stopped.
The environmental education center part of the facility was no more, abandoned until a non-profit group approached the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the property.
"We had been hosting Christian retreats for about thirteen years and the facility we were using was no longer meeting our needs," Comer said. "This facility came to our attention and it had been mothballed for about two years, and I just hated to see such resources going to waste."
For the last seven weeks, Comer says dozens of volunteers have spent more than 4,000 man hours to bring this federally-constructed education station back to life.
"It is a large property, so we’ve not cleared all the trails yet, but we’re in the process of clearing all the trails and we find new things daily," she said.
Cabins provide easy access to the amenities, and the entire property is surrounded on three sides by water, a peninsula that juts into Bay Springs Lake.
"It had been used mainly for educational purposes, and our goal is to use that so far beyond that," Comer said. "I think we will be able to open it up to so many different avenues: educational, corporate, for churches, retreats, weddings, all sorts of things."
Its facilities will still be open to school groups hoping to take in the sights and sounds.
While it won’t cater exclusively to students as much as it used to, Comer said the Fellowship Christian Retreat hopes to offer wilderness-related courses to whoever’s interested.
"We’re hoping to pursue some archery courses at some point and some of their rangers have talked to me about that. I think they’d much rather see the facility used, occupied and kept up, and they’ve been very supportive and supporting us as we take this on," Comer said.
A bill passed by the Mississippi House of Representatives last year will also allow Tishomingo County and other counties to provide funding or maintenance assistance to help the facility's finances.
And all of this -- they say -- wouldn’t be possible if a new tenant hadn't stumbled upon the rustic property.