HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Hancock County businessman says the Old Highway 90 rest area in Pearlington is simply an eyesore and he's tired of looking at it. Instead of just complaining, he's doing something about it so people coming to town aren't greeted with a mess.
"This is the first thing that people will see when they come into our state. It can either be a thing of beauty and reign toward how beautiful the rest of our state is, or it can be a thing of disgust," said businessman Julius Landry.
The old Highway 90 roadside rest stop brings back fond childhood memories for Landry.
"As a child, I couldn't afford going to Florida. But we could afford going to Bay St. Louis and hitting the beaches there, and this would be one of the places we'd stop off at. My mom and dad would feed us before we hit those beaches."
Landry often travels old Highway 90 to visit relatives in Louisiana.
"And I just noticed that this rest stop, which has probably been here for more than 50 years, has just gotten dilapidated over the course of time," explained Landry.
But dilapidated might be an understatement. Grass and weeds more than four feet tall surround the picnic areas. Rotten and broken wood hangs from the pavilions and cracked concrete benches and tables look dangerous.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining the rest stop, but M-DOT officials say right now it's not a funding priority.
"I would have hoped M-DOT would have took better care of this facility, but apparently it's not been taken care of," said District 4 Supervisor Steve Seymour.
If the state can't do it, Julius Landry, the owner of Bay and Kiln Tobacco, says he will. He's adopted the rest stop.
"We'd like to clean it up completely and landscape it nice to where when a family stops here it's something that makes them want to stop, making them want to spend a little time here."
Landry is rounding up volunteers and materials and hopes to begin the transformation later this month. Once the work is done, the county has agreed to maintain the rest stop.