Turnout Down At Latest Governor's Commission Meeting

Another Governor's Commission meeting on recovery, rebuilding and renewal was held in Hancock County Tuesday night. The meetings are designed to gather residents' long-term vision for the rebuilding of their communities.

More than 600 people attended the meeting in Bay St. Louis-Waveland a few weeks ago, but Tuesday night only a few dozen people turned out.

Commission leaders had hoped more people would turn out to give their input on the county's long-term development plans, but they understand residents in the County have more immediate needs to tend to.

"We still have people in Hancock County sleeping in tents. So how do you worry about the future when your kids are living in a dirty environment, and you don't even have a roof over your head," Chuck Benvenutti of the Governor's Commission asked.

Michael Boudcher did not make it to the meeting. He has more pressing needs to take care of, like getting the city's permission to turn on electricity at his home so he, his wife, and stepson can move back into their Bay St. Louis home. Boudcher thinks the commission meetings are important, but like many others in the county, he must take care of his own first.

"Start with the small steps, and we'll look at the big picture down the road, but we need to get back in our houses first," Boudcher said.

While Tuesday night's turnout was low, Commission leaders say every opinion they hear will be taken into consideration, and there will be more meetings down the road where residents can give their input for the county's long-term development.

"Somebody's got to think about it, and there are some of us who are a little more fortunate than others that are able to make the time," Benvenutti said.

The mission of the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal is to look past the hurricane debris, and map out what south Mississippi should look like 20 years from now. Jim Barksdale is chairman of the commission.

Another meeting is scheduled for Hancock County Wednesday, November 9th from 6:30-8:00pm at the Diamondhead Community Center.

Thursday, November 10th, the Governor's Commission will hold two meetings. The first will begin at 5:00pm at the Orange Grove Community Center in Gulfport. The second will take place at the George County High School Cafeteria beginning at 7:00pm.