Stone County Enjoying Building Boom

New houses are being built and new businesses opening every week in Stone County.

While casinos prompted the first building boom, the arrival of a retail giant is feeding the second wave of new construction.

"There's even people buying lots up here who are not golfers," said Allen Walters, as he walked around a home construction site near the country club.

Much has changed since Walters began selling homes in Wiggins some 30 years ago.

"We were kind of a little sleepy community here where people came and they wanted a little small house and a little small yard," he said.

Today's buyers are just as likely to want a big yard and a $250,000 home. Lots around the country club and golf course are moving quickly.

"Just recently we've sold four lots here. They were on the market for a number of years with no activity. And for some reason, this has just been the boom area up here," he said.

Surprisingly, Stone County schools have seen only modest enrollment growth in recent years, despite the steady building of new homes and businesses.

James Morrison is superintendent of schools in Stone County.

"I don't think we'll boom like we did in the mid 90's with the casinos. But I do expect continued growth, yes," he said.

The opening of coast casinos nearly 13 years ago prompted a significant increase in new homes and businesses in Wiggins. More recently, the arrival of retail giant, Wal Mart, brought another wave of new construction.

Wal Mart-related construction means business is looking up for Eric Blankinchip. The dry wall company he works for is busy seven days a week. Much of the growth is in this area.

"It's moving toward Hattiesburg. Before long, all the woods will be gone I think, from here to the coast you know," he said.

Allen Walters hopes things like traffic troubles won't follow that growth.

"We may have a little trouble with some red lights and stuff. But we're working on that," Walters said, laughing.

Along with the increased sale of upscale homes in Wiggins, there is also plenty of new construction of more affordable houses. Allen Walters says a new subdivision of homes in the $80,000 to $90,000 range is doing quite well.