Long Beach Turmoil Has Neighbors Shaking Their Heads - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Long Beach Turmoil Has Neighbors Shaking Their Heads

A sign outside the Dickens' hurricane ravaged property gets a lot of attention. It says, 'Smaller and Poorer." According to Dick Dickens, it's a takeoff on the bigger and better message first used after Katrina recovery started.

Dickens will tell you his nest egg is smaller since the storm. Which means the family is a bit poorer. However, that won't chase the couple off its Long Beach property.

"Yes, we're planning on rebuilding," Dickens said.

They're staying on the corner of Cleveland Avenue and Fifth Street. Which means they're across the street from the proposed casino site that's created so much political bickering in their hometown.

"I support it," Dickens said, referring to a gaming referendum that's supposed to be voted on Tuesday. "I'm hoping it will add to the value of my property."

But in the past five days, two aldermen have threatened to stop the non-binding vote because of misinformation circulating through the city.

"I'm not real happy," Dickens admitted.

The resident isn't sure why Long Beach needs a referendum.

"We elect aldermen to do a job. Let them do their job," he said. "If they don't know what their constituents want, I think they're doing a poor job as aldermen."

His wife questions why aldermen didn't research this issue before approving the referendum.

"You would think they would know what they were doing if they were going to put it up for a vote," Nola Dickens said.

It's that vote, a non-binding referendum for a casino on Highway 90 property in Long Beach that Charlie Boggs admits has suddenly brought out the worst in some of this city's elected leaders. After getting a haircut at a downtown Long Beach barber shop, Boggs was asked if he was embarrassed by what happened at Thursday's special meeting.

"Yes," he said. "I thought that was inappropriate at the time. I think it's inappropriate now."

Boggs was one of the three aldermen who made it to the Thursday meeting. The 20 minute meeting turned ugly after a quorum couldn't be reached, and accusations started flying between aldermen and some of their constituents.

"I took the bait. I responded in a way that was inappropriate," said Boggs. "I'm sorry for that. I'm embarrassed."

So was Jim Cranford. He heard about the turmoil while volunteers worked on his battered home. Just like his home, Cranford believes Long Beach will recover.

"If we can all pull together, we can be Long Beach again one of these days, I really believe that," the Long Beach man said.

Alderman Boggs said basically the same thing. He said once the referendum fight was over, Long Beach would become a cohesive community again.

"I think we can get by this. This is just a little bump in the road," he said.

Once again at Friday's meeting, there weren't enough aldermen to have a quorum, so they could not officially discuss the gaming referendum still set for Tuesday.

by Brad Kessie

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