Harrison County

Longest-serving mayor on the Coast still has dreams for D’Iberville

D’Iberville Mayor Rusty Quave takes the oath of office for his seventh term. He is the longest serving mayor in South Mississippi.
D’Iberville Mayor Rusty Quave takes the oath of office for his seventh term. He is the longest serving mayor in South Mississippi. meperez@sunherald.com

Along with six new mayors soon taking office in South Mississippi is Rusty Quave, who was sworn in Tuesday for his seventh term and now is the longest serving mayor on the Coast.

After he repeated his familiar oath administered by Judge Albert Fountain, Quave became nostalgic as he looked back on 24 years since he took office in 1993. And he said he’s eager to get started on what’s next for the city.

At his state of the city address last month, Quave said the city is getting two new luxury auto dealerships and a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant. He said he’d like to see a business park with aquaculture.

On Tuesday he added a solar farm to that list and said he wants to reduce D’Iberville’s electric bill.

“It’s been a struggle the last 20 years just to compete with other cities on the Coast,” Quave said.

Although it took more than 20 years to get D’Iberville’s first casino, much of the small city’s big success as a retail powerhouse came when Quave and the council granted the first tax increment financing bond — or TIF — in 1998 to help pay for the infrastructure for Walmart. The city repaid the original bond of $3.25 million for Walmart and six times extended TIF bonds to continue to develop Lakeview shopping areas on Sangani Boulevard.

“I didn’t think I’d be here long enough to pay it off,” Quave said of that first TIF, but it happened in 2014. People questioned dedicating100 percent of the sales tax from Walmart to pay off the bond, he said, but Quave’s philosophy is “Nothing from nothing is nothing.”

The city also provided TIF bonds for The Promenade shopping center and on Tuesday agreed a wire transfer of nearly $6.6 million to Land Holdings I for a TIF bond issued for Scarlet Pearl Casino. D’Iberville also used part of that $10 million bond for a water tower and a ladder fire truck for the casino tower, said city attorney W. Fred Hornsby III.

Quave also said Tuesday he has “respect and confidence” in Clay Jones, former D’Iberville police officer who was named city manager after the retirement of Bobby Eleuterius. The mayor and council extended Jones’ contract through their four-year term.

In other action Tuesday:

▪  Jones said demolition has started on houses to make way for the Popp’s Ferry extension.

▪  Councilman Robby Ellis said it’s time for D’Iberville to consider starting its own school district rather than continuing to be part of the Harrison County School District.

▪  Al Gombos, head of municipal operations, said the Harrison County Utility Authority is negotiating with two companies to provide garbage collection and the contract will include larger recycling bins on wheels.

▪  Ann Toncrey was awarded the Mary Lou Buchanan Award for her service to D’Iberville and its police officers.

▪  David Machado with Machado Patano engineering firm reported that the sportsplex is about 80 percent complete, with the baseball field scheduled to be done in July.