Port expansion questions to be answered soon

GULFPORT, MS - It was another set of familiar questions at the Port Commission meeting Tuesday night. The South Mississippians who attended didn't hold back their concerns. There were many questions posed about the health risks associated with the expansion, and of course the situation concerning the port's promised job creations.

This time, the questions were directed towards Port Commission President Chairman Lenny Sawyer.

Gulfport Councilman Ken "Truck" Casey wanted answers about the plans to elevate the port. Casey, who said he's keeping a close eye on the project, wanted to know whether or not those plans would actually come to fruition. Noting that if they don't, that would be a waste of resources. Resources he said were taken from the $600 million diverted from the Housing and Urban Development project.

Sawyer often answered questions by referring the crowd to an upcoming meeting scheduled for November 15th.  He talked mostly about the direction he hopes to see the port go in.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is expected to be a part of that November meeting.  Howard Page of the Steps Coalition says the Governor's office will release details about the meeting at a later date.

Sawyer, who told WLOX that he felt a lot of ground was covered in Tuesday night's meeting, said the November meeting would be a great chance for the community to get some long asked questions answered.

"This is a community meeting. When you hear all these rumors about what's going on at the port, this is where the public can come. They can listen and learn what's going on with our port," Sawyer said.

Though he wasn't able to directly answer every question Tuesday night, both sides agreed that meetings like these are always useful. They also encouraged the public to stay active, and present those unanswered questions in November.

"There is a lot of ground to cover. We're talking about spending over a half billion dollars and one of the main questions is jobs. Right now we've actually seen a lot of jobs lost at the port. There's also the concern about how the connector road is going to effect the community," Howard Page, of the Steps Coalition, said.