HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - In 2013, Hattiesburg withstood a devastating tornado and a devisive special election. Now, that city's mayor, Johnny Dupree, is turning his attention to crucial issues of public safety and public health in 2014. Of particular interest is a new Public Safety Complex, which would involve enlarging the current Hattiesburg Police Department, adding administrative offices for the Hattiesburg Fire Department and increasing the size of the city courtroom. Dupree hopes significant steps can be taken to move that project forward next year.
"I'm hoping in 2014 that we'll actually continue the process of developing, getting the plans and (specifications) to develop so we can now fund a new building for (police, fire), so that two years from now, we'll be cutting a ribbon opening the new Public Safety Complex," Dupree said.
Dupree also hopes some important street projects can be wrapped up next year, including work on West 4th Street, which began in 2013.
"There are some projects that we started that we need to complete, like 4th Street, Rails to Trails, Country Club (Road), Martin Luther King (Avenue)," Dupree said. "There are just a number of projects that we would like to complete and so we'll be doing that," he said.
And the mayor and city council could make an important decision next week on new a contract for wastewater disposal, which would meet stricter EPA guidelines and could rid the area of foul odors from the city lagoon once and for all. Above all, Dupree hopes for a better working relationship with the city council. It was a relationship that was often contentious in 2013.
"Sometimes, you all have the same goals, just different ways of getting there and I hope in 2014, we all can get there the same way," Dupree said. "I'm optimistic that will happen," he said.
Dupree says notable achievements in Hattiesburg during 2013 included completion of work on Hardy Street, the development of a Midtown master plan and major renovations in downtown Hattiesburg.