Columbus Dispatch

Hyde-Smith asks for $2.2 million in appropriations bill for Burns Bottom

By Brian Jones

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith told the Columbus Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon that she had included a little more than $2 million in federal appropriations for the Columbus Redevelopment Authority’s Burns Bottom project.

The effort is good for business and a sign of strong leadership, she said.

The CRA has asked the federal government for about $2.5 million to put toward water, sewer and broadband infrastructure at Burns Bottom, which it is trying to market to developers for a mixed use commercial and residential district. The five-block redevelopment area is east of the Roger Short Soccer Complex.

“This morning I toured over there where the … project is going on and they showed me around,” Hyde-Smith said. “What vision! Columbus is just stepping out with some good leadership, and that is part of that good leadership.”

Hyde-Smith said she had put $2.2 million in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for the project, but it has not yet been approved by the Senate.

Hyde-Smith was non-committal when it came to the city of Columbus’ blight remediation program, which is also seeking federal funding.

The city has received $3 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for its blight program, as well as putting aside $500,000 from its American Rescue Plan Act allotment.

The program will acquire blighted property, demolish any existing structures on it, and then attempt to market it to redevelopers who will put in affordable housing. Vacant and overgrown lots also qualify, according to the guidelines.

“(Blight remediation) is obviously something that needs to be done,” Hyde-Smith said. “(Blight) is in every city. Columbus is not the only city that has those issues, but I certainly want to be improving and enhancing this community.”

She said she didn’t know of any proposed appropriations for that program as of now.

The border and the war in Gaza

During her speech to the Rotarians, Hyde-Smith said the national security outlook, especially when it came to border security, is grim.

“There are thousands, children, young mothers who are breast-feeding, wading that river,” Hyde-Smith said of the Rio Grande separating the U.S. and Mexico. “How did we get here? We have laws in place where we welcome people to come in the proper way.”

She said she is “baffled” by the current administration.

“How many people are coming across (the border)?” Hyde-Smith said. “What is the endgame here? The census counts people whether they’re registered to vote or not. If you needed a (U.S. House of Representatives) seat moved from a conservative area, from another just take all the immigrants to that area and they’ll be counted on the census.”

Hyde-Smith claimed there were more than 300 fentanyl deaths per day, partly due to the border crisis.

“It is infuriating to see Chinese-made fentanyl coming over that border and heading straight up I-10 to Mississippi,” Hyde-Smith said. “You guys know exactly what (fentanyl) is doing to us.”

Hyde-Smith said the world was watching the fulfillment of biblical prophecy in the ongoing fighting between Hamas and Israel. On Oct. 7 Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip launched a surprise attack against Israel. In retaliation, Israel has launched military operations against Hamas.

“My heart is so heavy today,” she said. “You talk about biblical times? We’re watching prophecy being carried out. I just think of all the Bible verses. … it’s just being played out in front of our eyes today. I don’t know about y’all, but I read my Bible and I know what is happening.”

Hyde-Smith said she couldn’t give any specific updates on the situation, but that she would be briefed later today.

“We just cannot fathom the brutality of what’s going on there,” Hyde-Smith said. “Thank you, Jesus, that we cannot fathom what’s happening there.”