Hogan on Pat Harrison Waterway: "We hate to see 'em go"

The Pat Harrison Waterway headquarters has been home to The City of Hattiesburg since the early Sixties. Now that the building is up for sale, questions swarm Forrest County. Seven on Your Side reporters went to the Forrest County Board of Supervisors meeting where some county supervisors said they hope Forrest General Hospital is given the opportunity to purchase the building, but that might not be the case.

"I don't know all of the legal ramifications of how they have to go about getting rid of their building but, yeah, it's my understanding that they're going out for public bid, and they've got a big "for sale" sign out front. We hate to see 'em go," said David Hogan, President of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors.

But they won't go too far, since Pat Harrison has considered moving to the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport. Sources say Forrest General Hospital initially negotiated $600,000 for the building, then $800,000, but when Pat Harrison raised the price once more, that's when things went south. Pat Harrison is still taking bids.

"We have, in the past, negotiated with Forrest General, as you said with the hospital in this area, and it being in the front door of Forrest General makes sense, but that negotiation didn't quite materialize as we once thought that it was, so we're going to take bids and we'll see," Hogan said.

But Hiram Boone, Executive Director of the Pat Harrison Waterway District, wants to make it perfectly clear to the public that Forrest General Hospital is not exactly out of the question just yet.

"The hospital is not out of it by any stretch of the imagination," Boone said.

Boone added that folks across the area come by the headquarters daily to pick up packets for bids, and that everything building-wise remains up in the air.

More county business discussed at the meeting included the fee-base structure the chancery and circuit clerks use to operate their offices. And since they were conservative with their spending, Forrest County will reap the benefit.

"The county is going to receive an extra $300,000 in revenue that it otherwise would have not," Hogan said.

Hogan added that he wants to commend Circuit Clerk Lou Ellen Adams and Chancery Clerk Jimmy Havard for their significant roles in boosting county economy.

The Pat Harrison Waterway District has lost nearly $800,000 in annual funding since Forrest and Lamar counties withdrew from the district. Pat Harrison and Lamar County are still in litigation over that county's departure.