Jackson County Allocates Money For Pier Replacement

Arnie Laneaux of Vancleave can usually catch his limit at the Ocean Springs Harbor.

"White trout, ground mullet, red fish, flounder, catfish, as you see," says Laneaux.

But as good as the fishing is, he says it used to be better from the harbor pier.

"Yeah, because you're further out in the water and you've got a better chance to catch better fish anyway," says Laneaux. "You know a lot of people don't have boats, so if you can fish off a pier, that's great."

Now, after almost two years of fishing from the bank, Laneaux may get his shot at a bigger and better catch before the year is out.

"We've obligated $763,000 of FEMA money and it would be 100 percent financing," says Jackson County Supervisor Frank Leach. "So there's nothing really keeping this pier from being rebuilt back in its initial footprint."

Leach admits progress has been slow. But he says rebuilding the pier, along with replacing pilings, finger piers, dredging the harbor, and rebuilding the Harbor Masters office are all part of the counties and the city of Ocean Springs master plan.

"The most important part is it's got to revolve around a master plan so that we know where this harbor is going and this beach front is going," says Leach.

However, the county still hasn't decided where a second pier is going, to replace the old fishing bridge also wrecked by Katrina.

"We have received FEMA funds of about $2.8 million for the replacement of another pier. The question is, where will that pier go?"

For Arnie Laneaux that answer can't come soon enough.

"When it's built, come back out here. You'll see a lot of people on it."

Leach says the board will discuss those other projects at next Monday's board meeting. However, following the awarding of contracts, he hopes construction on the Harbor pier can begin within the next 90 days.