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MDEQ freezes city's grant as probe at DMR continues

D’IBERVILLE — The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has frozen a $3 million grant to see how D’Iberville is using the money.

MDEQ spokesman Robbie Wilbur tells The Sun Herald the order was issued Jan. 28. The grant was for work at the Ocean Expo Aquarium.

There may be concerns about a conflict of interest.

Then-City Manager Michael Janus hired Maxwell-Walker Consulting Group to secure the BP grant without the knowledge of the city council.

Janus said he didn’t contact MDEQ when Mayor Rusty Quave, a contract employee of the state Department of Marine Resources, voted to approve the docket that included a bill to pay Maxwell-Walker $180,000.

Scott Walker is a partner in the firm and is son of Quave’s then-boss, Bill Walker, who has since been fired as head of DMR.

Janus and Scott Walker also are business partners.

Janus is on an unpaid leave of absence.

Sharron Perkins, who was appointed interim city manager last Thursday, said the directive from MDEQ came while Janus was still working.

“As the city just received the stop order this week, we have not had time yet to gather the documentation and submit it to MDEQ,” she said.

The stop-work order is in effect for 90 days or until the city receives further notification from the DEQ.

The deadline to spend the grant is July 1.

 

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