Gulfport Director Don Allee will resign from his post, effective Nov. 2, in the wake of scrutiny over how the Mississippi port has used $570 million in federal funds after Hurricane Katrina, according to local reports.
Allee’s resignation was announced at a port commission meeting earlier this month.
At issue was a port redevelopment plan that would allow Gulfport to cater to larger ships and be better prepared for large storms in the future. The federal funding was tied to job creation initiatives in the aftermath of Katrina.
However, according to a report from the Mississippi Press
, Allee said luring bigger ships from a widened Panama Canal wasn’t practical, advising the port to target smaller ships that might be displaced by larger ships at other Gulf and East coast ports.
The newspaper indicated Allee was under pressure from the governor’s office to press ahead with the larger project, which would have included dredging the port’s channel to 50 feet and raising a pier from 10 feet to 25 feet. Allee argued the port’s other infrastructure wasn’t equipped to handle big ships.
"The governor appreciates Mr. Allee's service and considering this is a personnel matter will have no further comment at this time,” said Mick Bullock, a spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant.
A port spokesman said current chief operating officer Matthew Wypyski would serve as interim director until a permanent replacement is found. - Eric Johnson