PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Three years after Katrina, Jackson County still faces recovery and rebuilding challenges. In his
Wednesday, new Board President Manly Barton focused on the post-storm accomplishments and the major hurdles of 2009.
"I can tell you with confidence that the state of our local government and our county is really good," Barton told the crowd of 100 business and civic leaders in Pascagoula.
Board President Barton assured them the weak economy won't break Jackson County's post Katrina mission.
"I really believe that our financial situation is good."
Barton said the county's 2008 accomplishments are great examples of progress and recovery.
"We awarded the contract and the Sheriff's Office is back in the that facility, and it looks great. I am going to brag on the county. This past year we did $2.6 million worth of paving in the four cities, that figure doesn't include $1.4 million worth of bridge work. People always ask what the county does for the city, but the past year it's almost $5 million worth of stuff," Barton said.
Several new construction projects are set to begin in 2009. Topping the list is replacing the aging, overcrowded Jackson County Jail. Last year, residents voted down the replacement proposal, but Barton says the county is looking at other options to get the job done.
"There is a bill in the Senate this year that would allow counties to go outside the county seat. I don't know if it has much success with passing, I just don't know, but we will be watching that with interest."
Barton would also like to see the county break ground on a new Health Department office and the first County Services complex.
"It is a $12 million facility and I think it going to be great. Our economic development looks good, so we are continuing to move in that direction."
Barton said the County Services complex will not cost taxpayers. The county secured two federal grants through HUD's Downtown Revitalization program.