Citizens fight to keep Waveland job center open

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Some Hancock County residents have launched a grass roots community effort to save the Hancock County WIN Job Center. As we first told you a couple of weeks ago the Waveland Job Center is among 12 others across the state slated to be shutdown as a cost saving measure. However the residents say they won't let the center go without a fight.

"This is our one source of job opportunities and there are a lot of unemployed people around this area," said Waveland resident Jack Hively.

Hively says he's one of the unemployed. He showed up at the WIN Job Center Friday in hopes of changing that, only to find out the doors to the place that gave him hope would only be open for another week.

"I'm just shocked that our government which ever entity of government it maybe has decided to close this office, I'm disappointed," said Hively.

The State Department of Employment Security says the closings are the result of major funding cuts from the U.S. Department of Labor.

"My organization is called Christmas Everyday and God put it on my heart to help the people of Hancock County to make sure the WIN Center remains in our county," explained Marsha Christmas.

Christmas has started a petition drive in hopes of getting the attention of state, local and national leaders.

"We are trying to accumulate as many signatures as possible," said Christmas.

She said having a place close to home to search for employment is only one reason to keep the Waveland job center open.

"A lot of people need proof for social services, human services trying to get food stamps or etc. Even the food bank you need proof that you have applied for the WIN Center registration for employment. So it's critical that we keep the WIN Center in Hancock County."

A notice on the door directs residents to use Job Centers in Gulfport or Picayune.

"All these people in Bay St. Louis and Waveland how are they going to get from here to Picayune. You're already struggling looking for a job. Why would you take the only thing they have to try an get a job and take it away from here? It just doesn't make any since," said Bay St. Louis resident Charles Edwards.

A spokesman from the State Employment Security told WLOX there have been cases where the city or county leaders have stepped up and kept a center open.

For instance he said in Newton, Mississippi county supervisors agreed to pay the utility cost for the WIN Center there, which will keep it open, but with limited hours.

Hancock County Supervisor Lisa Cow and told WLOX NEWS a meeting has been set-up with Employment Security leaders to discuss options for keeping the Waveland Center in town.

Meanwhile the citizens say they will continue their petition drive and will be set-up in-front of the Waveland K-Mart Saturday. And in front of the Waveland Wal-Mart Monday.

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