MS Secretary of State presents check to MS Department of Marine Resources


Each year the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources reels in millions of dollars from Tidelands Funds, money generated since 1994 from leases of land, such as tidelands and submerged lands, owned by the state.

Today the Mississippi Secretary of State presented a check to the DMR for millions of dollars, money that is slated to fund projects throughout South Mississippi.

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Tideland funds are not something all Mississippians know about, but if you look around, you’ll likely see projects and facilities funded by this money. District 47 State Senator Joseph ‘Mike’ Seymour said, “We’ve enhanced the Brittany Boat Launch as far as parking access. We have several projects going on at Fort Bayou.”

On Friday, Coast native and Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson presented the DMR with a tidelands check totaling more than $7 million. “We talked about the check being a little low this year was because of COVID. The state shut the doors on anyone along the coast, especially our gaming. The Gaming Commission came in and said you can’t operate. One of the things we did, especially being a small business owner, understanding the impact that would have on them, we said you can defer your payments until next year. That was one of the reasons we saw the decline this year, which means they’ll be paying double next year, so there will be an extra-large check next year. Again, taking care of our Coastal businesses and pouring money back into our Coast is so important to us.”

More than $3-million of the money will be used to fund future projects throughout South Mississippi, from boat launches, harbors and parks, to a Living Shoreline, set to be built on Biloxi’s Back Bay. MDMR Director Joe Spraggins said, “We’ll be able to do public access and manage projects and be able to help rebuild a lot of things that have been damaged and a lot of things that are new. We’ll be able to do more public access.”

State Senator Brice Wiggins says this money also plays a vital role in the big picture. “We also have the BP, Gulf Coast Restoration Funds, the Restore Act Funds. We also have a number of other funding mechanisms coming to the Coast. When you take this pot and put it with these other pots, the Coast is positioned well to recover from Hurricane Zeta, but two to continue the upward trajectory that we’ve been on. I’m proud that we’re able to bring those things to the Coast.”

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned....