Three very special trout have joined the ranks at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery and the public is invited to pay them a visit.
These trout are made of glass, and in a stained glass window that was designed and built by Janice Ray (Sours) Payne of Coquille, Ore.
Janice is no stranger to Neosho or to the fish hatchery. She was born at Sale Memorial Hospital in Neosho in 1950 and graduated from Neosho High School in 1968, so her affection for Neosho and the hatchery is abundant.
"My brother Stan and I used to walked to the hatchery every weekend and when cousins came to visit, we took them there to play," Janice said. "I have very fond memories of that place."
Janice and her seven brothers all are artistic, although it is a different kind of artistry with each of them. Her brother, Jack Sours, is a potter and a painter, and he is the one who talked to Janice about creating a stained glass window.
For most of her adult life, Janice was an elementary teacher, but when she retired she let her artistic side take charge. Eight years ago, she enrolled in a class and got her first experience in stained glass. Although she says it is just a sideline, she shows and sells in a local gallery (Second Street Gallery in Bandon, Ore.) and does commissions as "Country Rose Creations."
The window that she created for the hatchery took about nine months to design and make. The best part of the window, Jan thinks, it the glass itself. When she started the project she wanted a special glass for the trout colors and was delighted to find just the thing. Another lady had bought the leftovers from a glass shop and Janice found just what she wanted in some glass that is no longer manufactured.
"I'm very proud of the glass. It's the right colors and has a ripple affect," she said.
When the window arrived in Neosho, it was not named. At the urging of others, Janice gave it a name "Tribute," which has special meaning to her.
The window features three rainbow trout swimming in a pool of water with rays of sunshine coming onto the surface and continuing on below the waterline.
"When I look at my work, I see the flaws," Janice said, "but I heard the hatchery staff and some of the Friends who were there were very pleased. That makes me happy."
According to Jack Sours, Janice's brother, she came for a visit recently and he brought her to the hatchery. She fell in love with the Visitor Center and agreed to contribute something to it.
Janice donated the time and material for the window, and the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery paid the freight and for a small repair that was needed after shipping the window from Oregon.
The new window was installed in an opening between the west entrance of the hatchery and the bookstore. Jack Sours and John Perry, both members of the Friends group, installed it Tuesday morning, Sept. 24.
The public is invited to stop by and see "Tribute," the latest public work of art in Neosho.