Two Forrest County officials spent several days last week at a conference in Washington, D.C., at the invitation of the Trump administration.
Supervisors David Hogan, District 1/ board president and Chris Bowen, District 5, met alongside other supervisors from the state as well as Texas commissioners, the equivalent of supervisors.
Following a tour of the White House, board members met with administration staff members, including Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Dept. of Transportation Anthony Bedell and Vice President Mike Pence.
While several of issues were discussed, it was a plug for Forrest County, that Hogan feels could potentially be a win-win.
After Bedell was finished speaking, he called Hogan out in the hall to talk.
“I had my synopsis of our field grant application, which includes replacing the 56 wood piling bridges we still have in Forrest County with concrete piling bridges,” Hogan said. “He told me they had 870 bill grant applications and would be lucky if they were able to fund 150 of them.
He took Hogan’s synopsis, told him to keep keep in touch and he’d see if they couldn’t help the supervisors out.”
“That would be awesome for Forrest County if we were one of the applicants of that,” Hogan said, explaining that the cost to replace 56 wood piling bridges was approximately $25 million.
“If this were to go through the federal government would pay more than $21 million,” Hogan said. “That’s probably the best thing that could happen and one of the impactful reasons I wanted to attend this conference. “It was good for Forrest County to be there and put the application in Bedell’s hands.”
Hogan noted that the grant application process and those decisions were being made right now.
He said they also had talks regarding the Port of Gulfport, as well as the seamless rail that’s now been installed He said they also offered ideas on how the state can do a better job of exporting since the Port of Gulfport is the fourth largest container port in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We’d love to fill those containers up with exports going back out,” said Hogan. He provided them with some contact information with the Port of Savannah (Ga.).
The secretary provided attendees an update about intentions to improve infrastructure across the country.
He told us President Trump realized that rural Mississippi helped him get elected and he wanted to give something back.
“They didn’t give as much on this year’s budget as they wanted to, but they do intend to do some major infrastructure projects in the state,” Hogan said.
Hogan mentioned to Bedell that the supervisors had talked to its federal delegation, especially Roger Wicker, in regard to Hwy. 49 needing to be designated interstate agreed.
“He agreed,” said Hogan of the highway that was left out in the original interstate packages in the late ’80s, early 90s.
Others who spoke to the group including Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Hogan called the experience unique and said he was proud to travel and present Forrest County with the current “I hope it could potentially pay big dividends for the taxpayers of Forrest County.