Sundown Motel owner wants to reopen after meth decontamination - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Sundown Motel owner wants to reopen after meth decontamination

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - These days, the only customers at the Sundown Motel are feral cats. 

The motel was shut down because of recent meth contamination, and Ocean Springs Deputy Police Chief Mark Dunston wants to keep it closed.

"At the police department, we are currently reviewing a lot of our statistics about that location," Dunston said. "Once we determine what approach to take, as for the location being a nuisance to our community, then we'll present that information to our city attorney. And then it's a civil process." 

Last week, the explosion inside room 103 was caused by a man cooking meth. But Dunston said the motel has had other problems besides drugs. 

"We've had to assist the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force catching people in there that are wanted fugitives, including one that assaulted a police officer in Wiggins. We captured him there hiding under a bed at the hotel." 

The owner of the motel is 77-year-old Bobbi Johnson. She agreed to an interview even though she is hospitalized. 

Johnson defends her business, saying it offers shelter to those who couldn't afford it otherwise.  

"I'm the cheapest place around, that's why they come there," Johnson said.  "I'm cheaper than anybody else, I'm cheaper than before the hurricane. That's why they come to my motel."  

When I talked with Ms. Johnson, she brought up what called a very legitimate concern.  How can she possibly control everyone who walks through her doors and rents a room without violating their rights to privacy?

"When they come in the morning and rent until the next day, we're not big brother on the wall. They've rented that room and they expect privacy.  Think about it." 

Something else to think about is Johnson's reputation in the community.  Since the meth lab explosion, she admits it's taken a beating, but it doesn't bother her.

"People that know me, know better," Johnson said.  "They know I'm totally anti-drug and have been all my life.  I wouldn't know it if it slapped me in the face." 

Since the beginning of 2008, police say they've made dozens of calls to the motel, ranging from drug violations to domestic disturbance calls.  

Despite that, Ms. Johnson said she wants to re-open the motel after it's been decontaminated for meth exposure.  And she vows to go to court to fight efforts to close the motel down permanently.

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