County May Soon Have New HCDC Director
Supervisors Ask Commission to Drop Appeal on Lawsuit Against Commission Member
by Keith Burton - GulfCoastNews.com Filed 8/3/05
County officials are close to announcing that a new director for the Harrison County Development Commission has been found.
The county's primary economic development agency has been without a director for almost a year since the previous director, Michael Olivier departed in a firestorm of criticism, much of that outlined in a series of special GCN reports in its Slippery Business series.
Harrison County District 2 Supervisor Larry Benefield told GCN this week that the supervisors and HCDC commissioners are close to decision on a new Director. Benefield says the yet unnamed individual will be a local person.
"This person is from the area and has extensive economic development experience with a major company," Benefield said. "We believe he will be well received and bring immediate credibility to the HCDC."
The HCDC runs the county's industrial and business parks, and seeks out new businesses and industry for Harrison County. However, its previous director came under fire by former and current commissioners for not being forthcoming on how the agency operated and for harshly treating some on the commission.
Just this past Monday, the Harrison County Board of Supervisors voted to ask the HCDC commissioners to cease an appeal of a lawsuit it lost against Pass Christian resident Henry "Tut" Kinney. Kinney had sought financial records from the HCDC, which sued Kinney to prevent the record's release. The HCDC lost the case and even after two requests for reconsideration from the judge were denied, the commission had decided to appeal to the State Supreme Court.
Kinney though had since been appointed to the HCDC's board of directors. Benefield said the HCDC case had cost more than $40,000 so far and just didn't make business since, regardless of the fact that Kinney had been appointed to the HCDC board.
We felt that the commission's continued pursuit of this matter and its costs were not in the best interests of the public," Benefield told GCN. "Sometimes you have to admit defeat and move on."