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Governor chooses ex-aide to lead Marine Resources

BILOXI — Gov. Phil Bryant has chosen former congressional aide Jamie Miller to lead the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

Miller, 40, has previously served as district director and chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, Pascagoula deputy city manager and a coastal ecologist for DMR.

“My choice for executive director has both knowledge and experience,” Bryant said. “He’s a fine young man, and we’re proud to have him. This agency will move ahead with complete openness and transparency.”

The Mississippi Senate must confirm Bryant’s nominee.

“It is hard to quantify the importance of this agency to other state agencies in Mississippi, but there is no doubt the Department of Marine Resources touches the lives of so many who live and work in South Mississippi,” Miller said.

The executive director’s post has been open since former Executive Director Bill Walker, of Ocean Springs, was terminated Jan. 15 amid allegations of misspending by the MDMR. Deputy Director Danny Guice served as interim director after Walker’s departure.

The agency, created in 1994, has more than 140 employees, other contract workers and an annual state funding appropriation of about $19 million, according to state Department of Finance and Administration.

MDMR receives millions in federal money for coastal preservation and restoration projects. It has law enforcement jurisdiction over coastal waterways.

The agency has also handled distribution of millions of dollars received from BP since the 2010 oil spill, and much more money from the oil company is likely on the way.

The RESTORE Act will result in 80 percent of the BP penalties being given to impacted Gulf states. It’s projected there could be $5 billion to $21 billion split among Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and Florida.

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