BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced Friday that they have accepted the two highest bids for the Californian and the Topaz.
The boats 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 highest bid on the 42-foot Californian was $87,500 made by Michael P. O'Dwyer of Pass Christian. The highest bid on the 36-foot Topaz was $38,614.05 made by Anthony Fournier of D'Iberville.
"We will recover over $150,000 of taxpayer dollars by selling the two vessels and retaining the electronics for agency vessels actually used for marine research and law enforcement," said MDMR Executive Director Jamie Miller. "It is time to move forward and stop spending time and resources maintaining these vessels."
The MDMR took possession of the boats early in June and have continued to provide normal maintenance, including staff time, to keep the vessels operational.
Twenty-six bids on the boats were opened Tuesday at the DMR's meeting. Jimmy Taylor, chairman of the MCMR, said Commission members wanted the process to be public.
"We felt it was important to open the sealed bids in a public meeting," he said. "This is taxpayer money, and everyone deserved to know what the bids were. Now we can put this behind us and get on with the business of the agency."
Officials with MDMR have contacted the state Department of Finance and Administration to confirm the bid process and the awards.