Former congressman leads volunteer pier repair effort

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - One of Hancock County's most popular fishing piers is being rebuilt by many of the people who use it.

The Dunbar Street Pier was heavily damaged by Hurricane Isaac last August. When rebuilding bids kept coming in over budget, a well known neighbor stepped in.

"Two weeks ago, we couldn't even walk on this pier it had so many voids on it, so many planks out," said County Supervisor Lisa Cowand. "Today, we're almost 200 feet out, so we're very excited about it."

Cowand has plenty of praise for the volunteers who are putting new planks and guard-rails on the pier. It's a job contractors said would cost the county $140,000 to $180,000. That's where former Congressmen Gene Taylor enters the picture.

"I said, 'Look, if you get the materials, I guarantee there are enough volunteers around here that will build you a pier,'" said Taylor.

Neighborhood volunteers and volunteers from the county road department went to work on the pier four days ago.

"We had a guy on a motorcycle stop yesterday and say, 'I can't stay very long, what can I do?' And he carried about 100 boards out here, which saved us that hour and a half that it normally would have taken," Taylor said. "Another guy who regularly crabs off of this pier came out for one day and worked the screw gun all day and probably did 150 feet of decking, so every bit is helping."

And every bit of help is saving the county money.

"Saved the county, the taxpayers, anywhere from $37,000 to $42,000 on this project, so we're back in budget. It's going to be a great project," said Cowand.

Taylor said, "We do have a limited window of summer. It probably could have been done through the normal course of procedures waiting on FEMA, and maybe by next Christmas. And I don't think folks wanted to waste another summer. We are hoping to get out to that pavilion by the 4th of July and have that portion of the pier open."

Anyone wishing to volunteer their time to the project is asked to show up at the Dunbar Avenue Pier Thursday between 7:30 am and 2:30pm. The volunteers won't be working this Friday, but will be back on the job Monday morning.

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