The Hancock County Board of Supervisors on Monday heard from Constance Mims, owner of Unique Transitions Training Center, a barber college in Waveland.

Mims said she started her college seven years ago and did her "due diligence" by visiting agencies to explore funding opportunities for the college and students.

She said she's been everywhere from the mayors' offices to the Southern Mississippi Planning.

"The reason I'm here is that I want you to see me," Mims said. "It seems like every time I go and speak to one of these people, they'll say something to me to appease me. But then the moment I walk out, they forget about me or I evaporate."

Mims said the reason she decided to start her school is because she saw so "many people, black and white, stand on the corner with absolutely no direction and a lot of them end up in jail."

Mims said she had a proposal submitted to WIN Job Center for funding.

"Nothing is being done to help me," she said.

She said she joined the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce and said she asked to host one of the monthly business events and said she was told that "it costs too much money."

Sims said she was going to get help from the Rum Kitchen and a fabric store to host a fashion show.

Mims said she asked to host the events in June and July.

"She said, 'No, I don't think you should do that, you have to pay for food and drinks and it's very costly,'" Mims said. '''What you should do is help hold your own event, pay us $200 and we'll post it on our website.'''

Mims said she wanted to know why she had to "jump through the hoops" and "would they have done that to any other business?"

She said she hasn't heard a response from the Chamber after leaving messages on the Chamber's Facebook page.

"I want to remind you that not one time has one black person ever hosted that event in the history of that organization," Mims said.

Mims said she saw that PRCC received $4 million and googled the history of PRCC.

"Pearl River, when it first started, was a high school," she said. "They didn't even have a place to put books in. But the community got behind them and funded them and now they're a college."

Mims said she is a "full-fledged college" and "licensed by the State of Mississippi."

Mims said the only reason cosmetology is not offered at her college is because of a lack of educational material.

Sims added that she wants to introduce a job-ready program for high school juniors and seniors. Upon graduation from high school, the students will have a professional license, she said.

Sims said the mayor of Bay St. Louis is "100 percent for it." She said that she's sent correspondence to the superintendent of schools and the mayor of Waveland and has received no response, as of yet.

Sims said that she was the first black female to own a barber college in the state of Mississippi and has sacrificed to help her school.

"I can't get any help from anywhere," she said. "No matter where I go. I'm not lying when I tell you because I've got the track record and I got the paperwork to prove everything I've said. I did my due diligence. I started and asked where, when, and how many schools around me. I was lied to over, and over, and over again. Why I'm here is just to simply expose it. Because as long as I keep it in the dark and don't say anything, it's going to continue to happen. It's been seven years."

Sims said when she's asked "who gives the dollars?" people respond with "I don't know."

Board President Blaine LaFontaine asked Mims what she is asking the board to do.

"All entities that you have mentioned, the board has no direct oversight or ability other than trying to point you and assist you in the right direction," he said. "I think we're all willing to do that. But again, WIN Job Center, Hancock County, SMPDD, Hancock Chamber, and all these entities, we have no direct ability to make their decisions and try to appropriate anything."

Mims said, "It's 'tag you're it."'

"I use you as a forum for me to get this out so people can see it," she said. "When I walk out this door, they will know the problem is real. Because when I meet with each party individually, I get a 'no.' I'm a grown woman with an education and I'm willing to stand and let them know you can't treat us like that no more. I deserve better, my students deserve better. The school is excellent. Inside the school is beautiful, on the outside, the building is falling apart. I can't get no help from anybody. The bottom line is that I'm tired of being handled. See me, when you see me, I'm a full-figured black woman, proud of what I've done and what I'm trying to accomplish. They can take a high school and a community can get behind them to turn into a junior college, why can't we (sic) Transitions too?"

LaFontaine told Mims that her seven-year commitment to the community is appreciated and that the board is willing to provide guidance.

"Hancock County is made of many small business owners," he said.

Mims said there's only "three black" business owners in Hancock County.

"There's me, there's B.J., and then you got two barber shops," Mims said. "But we don't have any black businesses in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, I can say that for a fact.

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