CMR opens bids on two pleasure boats

Californian and Topaz.
Californian and Topaz.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Department of Marine Resources opened bids Tuesday on the two pleasure boats the DMR is selling. But there's no decision yet about whether any bid will be accepted.

The Californian and the Topaz are the vessels for sale; boats that were part of an ongoing investigation into the former DMR director.

The attorney for the Commission on Marine Resources opened and announced 26 different bids for the two pleasure boats at the start of the regular monthly meeting of the CMR.

The Californian is the larger and more expensive of the two. And bid number three was the highest offer received by the department.

"Bid is from Michael O'Dwyer on the Californian. In the amount of $87,500," said commission attorney Sandy Chesnut as she read each of the more than two dozen bids.

You'll recall the Californian and Topaz were originally owned by a marine foundation created by former DMR director, Dr. Bill Walker. The DMR leased the vessels and spent more than a million dollars on maintenance and repairs in recent years.

The lowest bid was a mere fraction of the vessels' estimated worth.

"On the Californian, in the amount of $1,015," read attorney Chesnut.

Many of the bids were much higher. More than half were $25,000 and above. The final bid was the highest received for the Topaz.

"Anthony Fournier on the Topaz in the amount of $38,614.05," she read from the bid sheet.

A CMR committee will now review all bids received.

"Couple of them I thought were pretty good. Couple of them, like we expected, people wanted to low ball and steal a boat, you know," said CMR Chairman Jimmy Taylor.

"There were some of them that were ridiculous. But all in all, got some pretty fair numbers, I thought, for just a closed bid," said Commissioner Steve Bosarge, who represents the commercial fishing industry on the board.

"A decision will be announced as soon as possible. But no later than Friday, July 26th, 2013," said DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller.

Commissioners told WLOX News it's time to sell the boats.

"With all the controversy between these boats, and amongst these boats, these boats need to go," said Commissioner Bosarge.

Added Chairman Taylor, "Yeah, if there's not a need for them, why? You know, recoup some of the money that was spent on 'em."

Director Miller said even if the commission awards any bids, the final sale must still be approved by the state Department of Finance and Administration.

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