Volunteer shelter must be removed from Henderson Point property

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County supervisors say it's time to enforce their building codes again. So, zoning officials have told a Henderson Point couple to shut down its volunteer shelters. That could leave the family, and several out of town rebuilding teams, in quite a quandary.

Volunteers built the two shelters after Sidney and Elaine Jones loaned their property to Amish and Mennonite work teams. The couple once lived on the western tip of Henderson Point, an area that still looks desolate. Properties around the Jones estate are now in decay. Tucked behind the trash are two raised homes, and one looming controversy.

"What we need to do now is remove these temporary facilities so people can rebuild their homes," said Harrison County District 3 Supervisor Marlin Ladner. His district includes Henderson Point.

Sidney Jones is one of Ladner's constituents.

"How do I feel?" Jones asked while answering questions about Supervisor Ladner's recent request. "I feel great."

Sometime after Hurricane Katrina blasted the community, Jones got permission to have Amish and Mennonite work teams build two homes for visiting volunteers. Jones described the feeling he had about those dwellings this way.

"You ever go and get a job that you're in that you're filled with mud and gook and whatever, and go home and take a good hot shower? Afterwards, how do you feel? There's no explanation for it."

But as good as he felt knowing volunteers were benefiting from the homes on his property, he couldn't escape one basic fact. The homes were temporary structures. And eventually, they'd have to be removed. Eventually is now. Why? In part, because his neighbor complained that the north side of Bayview Avenue a single family residential neighborhood, and not an area for a volunteer camp.

Supervisor Ladner agreed, saying it's time to adhere to the county's zoning regulations. Which means it's time for the camp to close.

"Yes, I think it's time that we remove the facilities that are temporary because people are wanting to come back in that area," Ladner said.

Jones isn't upset with the request.

"These are temporary. They will come down," he said.

What bothers him is the rush Harrison County seems to be in.

Under one of the trailers is a sign painted by a Mennonite volunteer. The words patience and perseverance are prominently displayed. All Mr. Jones wants is a little patience from the county, so the Mennonites can complete their south Mississippi recovery mission before the volunteer camp disappears.

Jones has requested an extension. But he hasn't received a response yet. The Henderson Point property owner would like the volunteer shelters to remain on their pilings until May. He said that would give the Mennonites enough time to finish their recovery work, and dismantle the shelters themselves.