OS Public Safety Dept. Still Pushing For Unified Facility - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/08/05

OS Public Safety Dept. Still Pushing For Unified Facility

"I was disappointed to see we'd possibly have to wait to see improvements in our facilities," Ocean Springs Fire Chief Mark Hare says.

Hare hoped voters would see the need for a new public safety center.

The city bought the land to build a new headquarters for the fire and police departments seven years ago, but failure of the bond issue means more waiting.

"I think the problem that arose was the public was concerned about how the money was going to be spent," Ocean Springs Police Chief Kerry Belk says.

The $11 million bond was supposed to provide money for public safety and recreation improvements.

Vague language on the ballot may have left some voters unsure of just where the money was going.

"It's something this city absolutely has to have," Belk says.

The chiefs say the current police and fire stations are too small. The buildings are in need of major repairs and their locations no longer meet the needs of a growing city.

So Belk and Hare aren't giving up. Hare says he's looking forward to working with the new mayor and aldermen to find alternative funding.

"It's a new period and new ideas come out of new periods like that," Hare says.

Belk says it may take some creative thinking by city leaders.

"Turn over every rock, look behind every tree, do what we have to do, talk to whomever we have to and just see what is a available that can help us procure these funds," Belk says.

In the meantime, firefighters and police will continue working to protect the people of Ocean Springs.

"We will always do the best job that we can with what we are given. It's like a tool. You need the proper tools to do the best job possible," Hare adds.

By Jaimee Goad

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