D'Iberville directed to stop spending $3 million grant
D'IBERVILLE, Feb 08, 2013 (The Sun Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has directed the city of D'Iberville to stop work on the Ocean Expo aquarium project funded in part by a $3 million BP grant and to turn over documents showing how the city has spent the money.
The stop work order was issued Jan. 28, said Robbie Wilbur, communications director for MDEQ.
That came the day after a Sun Herald article detailed how then-City Manager Michael Janus entered into a contract with Maxwell-Walker Consulting Group to secure a BP grant for the city. Janus, who this week took an unpaid leave of absence from his job as city manager, said it was an "oversight" that he didn't notify the council of the contract until the city was awarded the grant by MDEQ on behalf of BP.
The stop work order is in effect for 90 days or until the city receives further notification by MDEQ.
Mayor Rusty Quave said Thursday the city is waiting to hear what will happen with the grant. Quave said he hopes the city and Ocean Expo won't be penalized.
MDEQ also has requested the city provide all documentation showing how any grant funds were distributed.
The city didn't have a valid contract with Maxwell-Walker because it wasn't brought to the council for approval. Once the grant was awarded, Janus informed the council members that he had a contract with Scott Walker. The council voted to pay Maxwell-Walker a $180,000 finders' fee for securing the grant.
The grant is to cover some of the expenses the city agreed to in order to get Ocean Expo to locate in D'Iberville. It included the design and construction of salt water transmission lines from the Back Bay to the site, land acquisition of the 8.5 acre site, design and construction of an access road and the design and system improvements for water and sewer upgrades. The agreement said a portion of the funds would be used for "necessary legal, engineering, planning, administrative oversight and professional consulting services."
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