BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Windy Swetman presented the annual State of the County speech to a crowd of nearly 300 at the IP Casino Resort on Wednesday. The president of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors challenged community leaders to raise their expectations.
The Biloxi native and longtime law enforcement officer was upbeat in sharing his vision of the future.
"Jobs. Education. Health care. We're creating tomorrow, today," an exuberant Swetman told the crowd.
Sounding more like a preacher than a politician at times, the first term supervisor offered a positive assessment of Harrison County, along with a promising future.
"We have affordable health care. We have available health care. We have the infrastructure. We've got the schools. The job market: The State Port at Gulfport. I'm telling you folks, look at me right now and understand what I'm telling you. If you haven't realized it, they are going to be the port of the future. Hundreds of millions of dollars going in there, creating thousands of jobs," he said.
Much of his speech focused on the future, including plans to expand county fire services from five days a week of paid firefighters, to seven days a week.
"Well, the next goal will be 24 hour fire service with a central command as we continue to build. We've got to think about it. We've got to be prepared for it," said the board president.
"You think the real estate market is dead? I can tell you, in the rural parts of the county there are big neighborhoods popping up right now. I met with a developer this week. They were acquiring land to put in 200 homes. and they have the money and financing to do it," Swetman said.
He highlighted several county projects, including new justice court facilities.
"You might have noticed in both downtown Biloxi and Gulfport, through CDBG dollars, we built new courthouses. And we needed them. They were falling apart."
Swetman not only looked ahead in his speech; he invited others to do the same.
"I challenge every single one of you in this room. When you get up and leave here, you go back and you think about tomorrow. 'Cause if you're just thinking about today, it's too late," he cautioned.
Given the crowd's ovation, most liked what they heard from the county leader.
Among the improvement projects Supervisor Swetman talked about was a $1 million upgrade at the Harrison County Fairgrounds. The county is building five new horse barns to make the highly successful Winter Classic horse show even more of a success in the future.