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Hosemann announces deal to buy portion of Cat Island, set aside for public use.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and members of the Coast legislative delegation announced Thursday the state has made a deal to buy 217 acres of Cat Island to be set aside for public use.

The total purchase price for the land is $8 million, with $528,000 coming from state tidelands funds, which come from casino leases. Those tidelands funds were leveraged with about $5 million in federal oil spill settlement funds and $1.2 million in Federal Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program funds. The Legislature also authorized the state to use nearly $1.3 million that had been set aside to purchase Deer Island to purchase the Cat Island land instead.

Hosemann, who met with the Sun Herald while he was on the Coast to sign the agreement, said he believes the state will find a way to provide public transportation out to the island so people can enjoy the natural resources there. He was excited about the deal.

“This place is a jewel for the Coast and the state of Mississippi,” Hosemann said. “I’ve recognized the value of this for so many years.”

About 10 years ago, the Legislature passed a $10 million bond bill and spent about $8.8 million of it to purchase most of Deer Island, except a small sliver that is still privately held. The owner of that portion doesn’t want to sell. Senate Bill 2700, which Gov. Phil Bryant signed this year, allowed the state to take the remaining $1.3 million of that bond and match it with other funds to negotiate for part of Cat Island.

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Filed under Delbert Hosemann, Gulf Coast, Legislature, Mississippi, Politics, Republican, Spending, State Government, Tourism

But what strings are attached, and how do we fund it next year?

State hopes to land $50M in funds for early child ed | The Clarion-Ledger | www.clarionledger.com: www.clarionledger.com/article/20110815/NEWS/108150…ome|s

Mississippi plans to compete for $50 million in federal funds for early childhood education – despite the fact it lacks a statewide pre-K program.

Mississippi is one of 10 states and the only Southern state with no universal early education program, according to Pre-K Now, an organization that advocates for universal, state-funded early education programs.

But three other states without universal pre-K – Hawaii, Wyoming and Idaho – are competing for Race to the Top funds.

"Early childhood education could be transformed and many of the statistics that show Mississippi as being last would be changed forever," Laurie Todd-Smith, executive director of Mississippi Building Blocks, said of winning the money.

Mississippi in a good position to win, some educators and advocates say, because of efforts under way to improve early childhood education in the state.

The state has a voluntary quality rating system for daycare centers and preschools. In 2008, the state received a grant to establish a data system that would allow education officials to track students from kindergarten through college.

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