D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The city of D'Iberville could ring in 2016 with a shiny, new casino. On Tuesday, more than 200-people celebrated the official start of construction on the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort. The $285-million project is stirring up a lot of excitement with promises of new jobs and economic growth.
The construction didn't even stop during the groundbreaking ceremony for D'Iberville's first casino. No one complained though. After all, it was a sight many people in D'Iberville have waited more than 20-years to see.
"Just overwhelmed, overwhelmed and appreciative," said D'Iberville Mayor Rusty Quave.
Mayor Quave thanked all the people who never gave up, despite the financial struggles, environmental hurdles, and questions from skeptics.
"This has been the hub of the city of D'Iberville since 1840 and it's going to be great to see your project George come back and revitalize this area," said Quave.
Land Holdings I CEO George Toth told the crowd how the casino, with its 300-room hotel and miniature golf course, will be a game changer.
"This is what's going to set us apart. I started to think about all the kids who will play on that course with their parents, their grandparents, the young couples creating the memories," said Toth.
Toth said the casino, going up at the corner of Racetrack Road and Central Avenue, will also create jobs.
"It makes me feel very proud, because in 2006, I closed a casino in Atlantic City and I put 2,000 people out of work. So now I've come full circle, and I'm going to put 1,100 people back to work," Toth said.
Twins Wilda Creech and Hilda Strayham say they enjoy tracking the construction. They live right across the street from the casino site.
"It's very, very exciting, and like I say when D'Iberville started, we were a young, young city and boy, baby, have we grown today," said Creech.
"I'm very excited, and I'll come to the casino as long as they put a back gate on that," said Strayham with a laugh.
The Scarlet Pearl is set to open on New Year's Eve 2015. It will become the 13th casino in South Mississippi.
"I'll see you in 17 months and let's open it up!" Toth shouted at the end of his speech.
Mayor Quave said the tax revenues generated from the casino will allow the city to give raises to police, fire and city employees, as well as pay for much-needed sewer and drainage projects.
Quave also mentioned that the Harrison County School District is benefiting from the project by leasing nearby land to the developer for parking and equipment storage.