VANCLEAVE -- A crowd came early to an open house and bombarded representatives from the Pickering Firm and Jackson County officials with questions about the Lake George project.
Three women from Ocean Springs brought signs of protest. A group collected signatures outside for a petition.
"Nobody's going to want this," Wake Inabinette told Curt Craig, with Pickering. "Who's going to profit? We get this big sale from our politicians and then we find out someone among them is going to make money off it.
"We have trust issues," Inabinette told Craig.
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"I know," Craig replied over the roar of questions. Almost shouting, he said, "We're just here to make the public aware. We did this in George County and everybody wanted it."
Pickering put together Lake George, which is being proposed for George and Jackson counties -- an $80 million project that has evolved into 2,900-acres of twin lakes that would be created by damming tributaries to the Pascagoula River, about two miles from the main trunk in Jackson County.
"I wish they wouldn't use the term damming," Jackson County Supervisor Barry Cumbest told one woman. "They're not going to stop the flow of the creeks into the river. Damming makes it sound like they'll stop the water."
Cumbest said he was told there are natural springs in the area that will help keep the water flowing to the river even after the lakes are formed.
Cumbest has been the county's point-man on the project. He was one of the supervisors who went to Washington to seek funding for the project, once Jackson County signed on to support it with George County.
Cumbest also revealed to the Sun Herald recently that his family owns about 240 acres in the footprint of the project. Some of his fellow supervisors said Monday that doesn't impact their support for Lake George.
The project is being pitched to be a ready supply of water for industries in time of drought.
Bill Lyons, of St. Martin, said to Craig, "I want to know why this is being built. There's no benefit. I don't see a benefit at all. I go to the Flint Creek water park and you've got to pay to get in. Somebody's going to make money off this lake. Who?"
Lyons continued, saying he's afraid the property values will go up and people living around the lakes won't be able to afford to pay the property taxes.
"Then some corporation will come in and buy the land," he told Craig. "Only the rich will be able to enjoy this lake."
About 30 minutes into the open house, Natalie Smith and Christy Goff of Ocean Springs came in with others holding signs that said, "Keep the creeks and streams flowing" and "Keep Jackson County Dam-Free."
Goff said, "We're very passionate about keeping the Pascagoula pristine."
Smith said, "The Pascagoula River is far more valuable than a lake. It's wild and that's worth more than money can buy."