CMR narrows the search for new DMR executive director

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Commission on Marine Resources has now narrowed the search for a new DMR executive director. Commissioners held a special meeting Wednesday morning to review 17 applications for the job. They spent about two hours reviewing resumes and chose five finalists from that group.

The commission won't release any names, but we can tell you the next DMR director will come from Mississippi. That's because all five finalists are from our state.

"All right, here we go," said CMR chairman, Dr. Vernon Asper, as he opened the special called meeting.

Before going into executive session, the commission chairman ran down the list of candidates.

"We received a total of 17 applicants. Of those, four of them are female. Two of them are from Alabama. One is from Florida. Three are from Louisiana. And eleven are from Mississippi," said Chairman Asper.

Commissioners considered those 17 candidates behind closed doors during a nearly two hour executive session.

"These past few months, I've been tested by fire," admitted acting DMR Director Danny Guice, who is among those who've applied for the permanent position.

He admits these have been difficult days at DMR headquarters, with new challenges most every day.

"But we're working every day to make improvements here. Those things that we do well, we're going to continue to do. Those things were we could make some adjustments, and do a little better, we're going to do that as well," said Guice.

He said whoever the governor selects to lead the DMR, he will be supportive.

"The governor has a tough job ahead of him, and I support the governor 100 percent. He's going to make his decision and whatever that decision is, I'm going to stand by him," Guice told WLOX News.

Following the executive session, came a summary from the attorney.

"At 11:00AM, a motion to select five candidates for interviews was made by Commissioner Gollott, seconded by Commissioner Drummond and passed unanimously," said DMR attorney, Joe Runnels.

"I will comment that we had 17 applicants and some outstanding applicants. Really very, very pleased," said Chairman Asper.

The commission will not release the names of those people who applied for the executive director's job. Chairman Asper said that is to protect the candidates.

The CMR will interview the five finalists quickly, then recommend three names to the governor.

"We're optimistic it will be next week. Again, we really want to get it done by the end of the session," said the chairman.

You'll recall, the former DMR director, Dr. Bill Walker, was fired by the commission in mid-January amid allegations of misspending. Dr. Walker has denied any wrongdoing. The ongoing investigation and audit of DMR spending practices, could take several more months.

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