Mayor Skellie: Long Beach has reason to smile

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The mayor of Long Beach says he's excited about how far his city has come in its recovery and he looks forward to what's ahead.

Mayor Billy Skellie gave his State of the City address in Long Beach on Thursday. He told citizens that even in the time of economic downturn, the "friendly city" has reason to smile.

When he looks at the beachfront condos, Mayor Skellie says he is reminded of how far Long Beach has come since Katrina.

"Beau Claire is beautiful," he said. "They continue to stay with the city. They never wavered. They were always coming back and they struggled through with all the building permit issues and the FEMA issues. They're just about there. They're probably 90 percent, in fact a great many of them are occupied. That's a good development. "

A new Holiday Inn Express is one of many developments going up in Long Beach. Mayor Skellie says K-Mart has pulled permits to rebuild at its old site. In fact, in 2008, the mayor says the city issued 26 commercial permits and 174 residential permits.

"With all this poor economic forecast for the nation and all that, I'm excited about some of these things," Mayor Skellie said. "These people feel good about Long Beach. They feel good about our growth. They feel good about where we're going."

Some sections of Long Beach can look forward to new water, sewer and drainage and later road repaving. However, the mayor says in that progress will come some growing pains.

"We're going to tear up areas that are really going to be a mess that you're really going to have to do some detouring. You're going to ride on dirt and limestone probably for four or five months. When we get through with these projects south of CSX railroad, you're going to be proud of it. "

Skellie says every bit of progress brings more people back home to Long Beach and brings the city closer to full recovery. The mayor pointed out several new developments either finished or under construction including the yacht club, Whitney Bank and Barnaby's restaurant.