Sunday, December 24, 2006

Building Going Well

Supers pleased with growth in nothern part of Hancock
By SEA COAST ECHO
Dec 22, 2006, 14:45

New homes and more businesses are popping up above Interstate 10 north of the Kiln, and no one’s happier than District 5 Supervisor Jay Cuevas.
“It seems like it has taken forever to see some real progress, but I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made in the last 16 months, and the future looks bright for all of Hancock County,” said Cuevas, as he rode around his district and pointed out where new subdivisions are taking shape. New single-family homes are being built off Road 357, on Rocky Hill-Dedeaux Road, on Fenton-Dedeaux Road and on Firetower Road, he said.
“We’re starting to see signs of people coming back, and I think the growth will be phenominal over the next couple of years,” said Cuevas. “Since the storm, any land north of Interstate 10 that is high and dry is a hot commodity. Land values are escalating. Everybody wants to go to high land.”
Recent land sales recorded in the office of County Tax Assessor/Collector Jimmy Ladner attests to the skyrocketing land costs. Five acres of land recently purchased on Standard-Dedeaux Road went for $47,500; nine acres on Firetower Road sold for $93.000. A 6.84-acre waterfront tract in the affluent Jourdan River Bluffsubdivision off Hwy. 603 went for $260,000, more than $39,000 an acre.
Cuevas’s District 5 is one of the largest and most populated of Hancock County’s five districts. The District begins at the junction of Hwy. 90 and Blue Meadow road, runs down Blue Meadow to past Joe’s Bayou, then follows the Jourdan River and takes in everything on the east side of Hwy. 603 all the way to Standard-Dedeaux Road. Latest estimates before the storm, placed the population at around 11,000, but nobody knows for sure how many residents have returned since Katrina. Approaching the Kiln, Hwy. 603 has become a bustling business corridor all the way to its junction to Hwy. 43 with retail shops, a farmer’s market, a bank, a U.S. Post office, restaurants, automotive repair shops, general hardware store, real estate and insurance offices.
“Now we’ve got a pharmacy in a new strip mall on the north side of Hwy. 603 and a Mexican Restaurant (3 J’s) will open soon on the south side of 603,” said Cuevas. Cuevas pointed out that Coast Electric last week vacated its Bay St. Louis headquarters, and moved its staff of 50 to a temporary trailer at 18602 Hwy. 603 while construction begins on their new headquarters.
“These people are going to be buying gas, eating in our restaurants and making purchases at the stores, which will give the economy a big boost,” said Cuevas.
Another major future tenant in the Kiln is the Mississippi National Guard. The Hancock County Board of Supervisors recently approved plans for the Guard to build a new Armory on a six-acre site off the Kiln-DeLisle Road adjacent to county’s Equine Center. The facility will be about 28,200-square-feet, and it will house the 155th Infantry Tank Company, made up of 63 soldiers, mostly from Hancock County.
F. Walker and Associates of Gulfport is the design company, and construction is expected to start within six to eight months. The federal government has allocated $12.2 million, and no local taxes are being used on the project, Cuevas said.
The facility is right down the road from the Hancock County Emergency Operations Center, and Cuevas said their proximity to each other will be a benefit to all citizens in times of storms or other emergencies.The construction and the eventual opening up of the Armory will bring even more people into the area,” said Cuevas, boosting the economy even further, and enticing more people to build or buy homes in the area, he said.
And added benefit, Cuevas said, is the Armory can also be used for functions, such as birthday parties or fund-raisers, he said.Cuevas added some additional recreational areas have also been made available in District 5 after Katrina. “The Board of Supervisors and the Hancock County School District got together to build a walking track at Hancock East Central, and its available for anyone who wants to use it,” said Cuevas. He said the Board used county labor to put in the track and the School District spent about $10,000 on materials.
The Fenton Community Center is also open on the Kile-DeLisle Road, and is available free of charge to anyone who might want to reserve it for private parties, weddings or any other activity, Cuevas said. To reserve it, Cuevas said people should call Sandra Edwards at 255—1140. Cuevas is especially proud of the $1.2 million Child Development Center nearing completion on a five-acre site on the east side of Hwy. 603, just past the new Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. The Bucks and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Katrina Relief Fund, working in conjunction with the Philadelphia Salvation Army, raised the money to build the 10,000-square-foot center, which will serve 130 pre-school youngsters, and also have been involved building or restoring playgrounds in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, in addition to restoring homes in the two cities.

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