Reeves holds final public hearing on BP settlement money

Reeves holds final public hearing on BP settlement money

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - For weeks, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has been asking Coast residents how they spend $750 million.

Wednesday was the third, and final, public session to come up with ways to offset economic losses from the BP oil spill. But, Reeves says the ideas must be creative in more ways than one, if the money is to be wrestled away from the rest of the state.

The final session by Reeves focused on Jackson County. While he is committed to get all or most of that money to stay on the Coast, Reeves says that a wish list will be just that if it doesn't appease everybody.

"We're going to have to invest in projects that make economic sense, that's going to grow the size of the economy in South Mississippi, which ultimately is going to grow the size of the economy throughout our state," said Reeves.

One of the most popular ideas includes development of public internet access, but it didn't sit well with Eric Schweinsbert of Pass Christian.

"Allotting all this money to a fiber ring to have a government controlled Internet service just sounds like a very bad plan to me when the free market already takes care of it for me," Schweinsbert said.

Phil Torjusen of Gautier said the money should go directly to the cities.

"I think the people living in it daily understand how to spend the money better locally," Torjusen said. "If it was actually somehow fairly allocated to each city down here, those mayors and city councilmen that we've entrusted through elections should be able to spend it on behalf of the people."

While the ideas were for economic generation, there were some people who took the opportunity to tell their personal story. Retired minister and fisherman J.F. Henry of Moss Point says he lost $90,000 because of the oil spill. But he, like many fishermen, have been offered only scraps.

"You need to come to Moss Point, and you need to get all those poor people that they've got signed up that ain't got paid and still got their claim in and they're still holding it. I've got mine right here," Henry said. "Still holding it. Been over six years, and that's what I had to say. I know I'm in the wrong place to say this but I've got the right people here."

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