New Development Brings New Water Worries

Bank and community leaders break ground on what will be another new business in Orange Grove. This Hancock Bank branch will open next spring near one of the fastest growing intersections on the coast, I-10 and Highway 49. "It's because the growth is moving north. The good expansion is, generally speaking, north of the interstate and we wanna be where the customers need us," says bank CEO George Schoegel.

On-going home and commercial construction brings prosperity to Gulfport. Mayor Ken Combs says he likes to see Gulfport grow but at the same time he knows more development puts more strain on the city's aging water and sewer system. The mayor says the city plans to boost water pressure in Orange Grove with a million gallon water tank and other improvements. Combs says, "We're gonna do that with six million dollars we feel we're going to get within the next coupla months from federal sources.

Some citizens want the city to put a moratorium on development until water and sewer improvements are made. But neither the city council nor the mayor are receptive to that, saying it sends a negative message to new business. "It sends a message that we're not interested in people who are interested in growth in our city, developers and investors and the other message it sends is we're not innovative enough to find solutions and increase our tax base to help us out of the problems that we're in," says Combs. Combs says that's the last message he wants developers to get, since he has made better water and sewage his top priority.

Marcia Hill