Sen. Hyde-Smith visits board of supervisors

By BETH BUNCH,

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was the special guest at Monday’s meeting of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors.

In introducing Hyde-Smith, Board President David Hogan thanked her for the latest round of safe rooms which provide sotrm shelters for all the schools in Forrest County and the City of Petal. Two of the schools, the Agricultural High School (FCAHS) and Dixie School were approved with the remaining 10 lumped together. Two of those, one Petal school and Earl Travillion, are still awaiting passage after some floodplain issues were discovered.

“So, all 10 of the schools were being held up by those inconveniences,” Hogan said. “Sen. Smith, when she stepped into office, she picked that ball up for Forrest County and ran with it, and most recently we have been approved for eight additional schools. “

He said only two of the 12 are remaining and “I have been assured by Anna on Ms. Smith’s staff they are working to get those issues resolved and believe it will be taken care of with the wetland problem.”

Hyde-Smith noted that the senator had also recently assisted Forrest County in getting airport monies, which will expand the runway at the Bobby Chain Airport in Hattiesburg.

“This is huge,” said Hogan, “to have accessibility to the Pine Belt. That is crucial when we are recruiting economic development projects.”

The Hattiesburg-Laurel Airport also received funds for renovation and perimeter fencing.

“We thank you for what you’ve already done for Forrest County and the Pine Belt.”

Hyde-Smith said she was honored to serve as a U.S. Senate and to come in and see something that says Forrest County and Hattiesburg on it and knowing that the money allotted for the airports will help tremendously.

“We had 20 grants and two went to Forrest County,” she said, noting the opportunity for the county.

“When I look at Hattiesburg, and they showed me the video this morning of the Megasite – 2200 acres, Guys, that spells leadership,” she said. “That says, ‘We are ready for economic development.

“I tell people I’m here for two reasons – jobs and to get less government – get the government out of our lives. But economic development is just something that I thrive on and when I see a county that is doing everything, already getting the permit so when an industry comes in and looks they are ready to roll. You don’t have to wait on anything.”

She said no matter what county you visit, “that spells leadership.”

“I just wish you the most success and want to be a part of that – anytime I can capitalize on something that you are working on, that I can step in. When they penned that pen on me that day the vice president swore me in as a United States senator, I tell everybody, that’s not my pen, that’s your pen. And it will get you in a lot of doors with that pen, but I want to be the voice for you.”

Hyde-Smith said it was neat being in D.C., but also a big adjustment for a Southwest Mississippi country girl. She invited those in attendance to tune into C-Span every Tuesday and Thursday, like her dear friend Barbara Hudson does, as she watches Smith preside over the Senate.

The senator said because she was “kind of airlifted in with her appointment (by Gov. Phil Bryant), she didn’t go through the freshman class.

“I’m just having to roll with the flow,” she said. “I do get the opportunity to meet with the President. I was there last week with the tariffs and trades and I was there before for the announcement of Judge Kavanaugh as a nominee (Supreme Court). It’s pretty exciting, but I want to be that Mississippi voice, because I assure you, my heart is right here. I don’t live in Washington, D.C. I have an apartment there that I spend the night in. I live in Mississippi and Forrest County and Hattiesburg have been so special to me. I love going to USM, I love my time in Hattiesburg. Those are true words, guys. Anytime I can help benefit you, I will be there and dive in neck deep for any one of you.”­